Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tom's Cottage

Kyneton's strong gold rush history and architecture was certainly a drawcard to us moving to the area. I'm fascinated by old building techniques and methods. If I'm looking around historic buildings I spend as much time staring at framing techniques and joints as anything else. This last week has seen a few old gems revealed within a stones throw of our shop. So I couldn't resist taking a couple of photos for posterity. 

One is the old grain store behind the bluestone flour mill. A new roof should see it last another hundred years at least.

Good friends, fellow workshop occupiers and neighbours Joe and Deb are in the process of renovating and rebuilding a very old weatherboard addition to their brick and bluestone residence. 

'Tom's Cottage' got it's name from the cobbler who lived there sometime around the gold-rush period. But well over a hundred years of neglect have ensured that all of the bottom plates that used to hold up the stud walls have all but vanished into the dirt. What did remain of the walls though was a great insight on how the frames were constructed, what materials were used and just how well they were built.

Here's one of the walls which adjoins the current brick structure. The interesting part being that somewhere along the line a top plate or two has been reused as a stud. Even the tenon from the stud which once stood underneath,  still remains in the mortise. It's well known in the town that post gold-rush, when times became very tough, a vast amount of the buildings that had sprung up overnight to cater for the thousands flooding towards the goldfields, came down just as fast and were sold off or re-used in other dwellings.

On this top plate you can clearly see how a carpenters axe has been used to pair down the 'soldier' into a tenon to fit another mortise. It's so refreshing see good traditional carpentry techniques. It illustrates how sad todays gang nail and glue approach to framing is in comparison. 

The interest wasn't confined to the walls. Here's my very worn boot on one of the original baltic floorboards. The last time I saw floorboards like this was in Hancock Shaker Village. Joe tells me they will be cleaned up and re-used in the build.

Joe's work as a builder focuses on eco-builds and the re-building of Tom's Cottage will be an ideal canvas to showcase these sustainable building techniques. I have no doubt it will be a credit to him and Deb and to our great town too.

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