The Market House is one of Mullingar’s landmark buildings. It was designed by William Caldbeck and built for Lord Greville in 1867. The central feature of the Market House is its louvered timber clock tower. The clock tower has been covered by scaffold for several weeks. Now this scaffolding is being removed, revealing the results of recent conservation works. Westmeath County Council Heritage Officer Melanie McQuade explains what has been going on.
“The timber structure of the clock tower had become badly weathered over the years and needed attention to safeguard it from any further decay. Westmeath County Council, with grant aid from the ‘Historic Structures Fund’ from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, implemented a programme of conservation works to the clock tower”, says Melanie.
“Upon close inspection it became clear that the timber louvers of the tower were too decayed to be repaired and so they were replaced with ‘like for like’ hardwoods. On the advice of Conservation engineer Luke McNamee of Cronin Sutton Engineering, a steel frame was constructed to give internal support to the rebuilt wooden structure”, says Melanie.
Conservation Architect Aisling Flanagan explains that the leadwork on the cill of the tower had slipped and lead on the roof had become damaged. The lead all needed to be replaced to comply with building standard regulations. In addition, parts of the weathervane on the top the tower were very corroded. The weathervane was restored back to its original condition. While the tower was being rebuilt, the clock was removed for specialist cleaning and restoration.
“While these works were being undertaken, we took the opportunity to install a safe accessway to allow for future maintenance of the clock and tower. We also had a light installed so that the clock face will be readable at night”, says Liam Higgins of the Property Management Section with Westmeath County Council.
“In order to make the new hardwood timbers of the tower weathertight, several coats of hardwearing exterior paint were applied. The timbers have been painted a blue-grey in order to reflect the colour seen in historic photographs of the clock tower and to compliment the blue-grey tones in the slate on the building”, says Conservation Architect Aisling Flanagan.
“These works, undertaken by Conservation Contractors Kellbuild Ltd. and Stokes Clocks, have ensured the structural stability of the clock tower, improved its functionality and appearance. We can be proud of this landmark building for generations to come”, says Melanie McQuade.
Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 26/11/2020