Established in 1988 as a company specialising in the conservation of England's stunning architectural heritage, WallWalkers has evolved to become one of England's leading rope access teams host to an eclectic mix of skills and services allowing us to tackle a wide variety of tasks. However, no matter how many projects we are involved in, conservation of England's magnificent buildings is still our passion, demonstrated by a rigorous attention to detail and deep-seated pride in the quality of our work.
The MillWalkers - Dismantling the Sweeps of a Beautiful Windmill
We recently were contracted to carry out high spec wood repairs to the sails, or ‘sweeps’, of this beautiful windmill and private home. The spec was to include chopping out failed wood sections, replacing with external-grade plastic wood, painting with wood hardener to any softening wood, sanding down, lining with external-grade mastic and painted with a base coat to the limit of the allowable budget. Day 1 on site, materials and tools in hand, and everything changed. Within the first abseil drop, the WallWalkers team found the true nature of this windmill’s condition to be far worse than expected. All soft wood sweeps had completely rotted though at various points, particularly where the bracing sections joined the main stocks to act as stabilisers for the extending sails. Read More
Brushing Up on The Royal Academy of Arts
How does one hope to suspend their body in mid-air with nothing to attach to above, below or to either side? We had the same discussion having non-nonchalantly accepted this project. WallWalkers' rope access services were recently called upon by London's own Royal Academy of Arts, to complete one of our more complex and out of the box challenges in recent times.A bit of history - The Royal Academy of Arts was founded by George III in 1768. The 34 founding Members were a group of well-known artists and architects, including Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir William Chambers, and their aim was to raise the profile of British art and architecture. Its home since 1867 has been Burlington House, an impressive, listed building in Piccadilly. The aim of this recent project was to carefully and meticulously dust and vacuum the priceless sculptures and statues that teeter on the edge of 50 foot vertical drop. Read More
The WallWalkers of Walbrook
A rope access technician we’ve previously worked with on numerous occasions recently sent me a photograph of a small church in London and I was immediately struck with a sense of warm familiarity as a wave of fond memories rolled in. It was very much the kind of nostalgia you’d get if you stumbled upon an old photograph showing your fresh-faced school buddies, all laughing and tumbling over each other in an effort to get in the centre line of an off-the-cuff snap.This memory caused me to revisit the project we carried out back then and put together a blogpost as means of sharing our challenges and accomplishment with you all.WallWalkers were contracted to carry out repairs to the rotting woodwork, delaminating paint and corroding leaded windows, the latter of which were removed from the structure entirely and lowered internally using our custom made plywood casings.p>It may seem like a relatively simple project, but the priceless Henry Moore sculpture we hung directly above made things a little more tricky.Read More
The Long Haul - Rebuilding a Church Spire
How do you remove the top three courses of a church spire while still hanging from it on a rope? Isn't that like...cutting the branch your sitting on? Well... It could easily be, if you don't have the right system in place.Over the past 6 months, WallWalkers have had the pleasure of working on a dinky little church in the Forest of Dean, perched on a hillside overlooking rolling horizons and broccoli-top tree beds. The contract was comprised of 5 distinct aspects:1: Remove the exploding iron rod from the spire's top, replace all fractured and damaged stone with new 2: Install a new internal oak floor at the top of the church tower, where the base of the pyramidal spire meets the top of the rectangular tower 3: Fit a stainless steel rod from the spire peak, down internally through to the spire floor and tighten so the spire compresses on to the supporting tower below 4: Point loose and failing joints of the spire and tower which are allowing water to ingress... Read More
Scaling the Palace - Blenheim Heights
From castles to churches, palaces to abbeys, England's eclectic range of ancient structures are recognised globally as being of those of great historic significance, stunning architectural display and wonderful artistic beauty.The WallWalkers team have been blessed with the privilege of working on a variety of structures across the United Kingdom, enabling them to hang from palace walls, peer through moat-side castle windows in to rooms blocked-in and unseen for hundreds of years, and walk along the precarious wall top edges, overlooking waves that crash against the base of cliff faces tracing the edges of nowhere.Continuing these blessed projects, the WallWalkers team recently carried out a condition survey on Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, which included a full scale, hands on assessment of all high level sections close to the sensitive areas open to the public.Following the survey, the rope access team were then called in to carry out vegetation removal and the defrassing of loose stone and mortar causing potential... Read More
Ironstone – not as solid as it sounds
The name 'ironstone' evokes a sense of strength and stability, what with it being a combination of strong metal and natural building material. It’s almost as if all fortresses and strongholds should be created from this hybrid. However, the reality is rather different; a reality a recent client of ours knows all too well.Ironstone includes a substantial amount of iron compound, which has either been deposited directly as ferruginous sediment or created by chemical replacement. Iron has historically been smelted from this compound. Ironstone itself is a sedimentary rock, and this accumulation of components such as sandstone with iron oxides makes for a material fraught with inherent problems when used on buildings. Examples of these buildings are the parish churches at Kirby Bellars, South Croxton in Leicestershire and, in this project recently completed by WallWalkers, a huge Church in Oxford. We were called in to perform a full-scale defrass of the building and a photographic inspection to chart it’s rate of degradation. Read More
On Top of the World: Flagpole Restoration
*This post has a video in the blog.*Team WallWalkers go where others won’t, with minimal fuss and without the need for expensive scaffolding. Ever since that playful remark from an architect client who asked if we could access the top of a steeple to look at the condition of a weathervane, we have evolved it into a unique and specialist skill. Now we frequently find ourselves high atop churches, keeping them looking their very best!The Job:We were recently called upon to restore a flagpole on top of a church tower in London and, while we were up there, grease the weathervanes on each of the four pinnacles so the wind could move them more easily.The Method:Day one saw us ascending the flagpole and utilising our tried and tested prusik system; a friction hitch created by putting a loop of rope or chord around an area which, when force is applied, tightens around the surface area and ‘bites’ in to place. Once we reached the top it was time to turn our attention to preparing the towering flagpole itself.Read More
Wall Walkers, Tree Climbers, Canopy Creators!
When we’re not scaling the walls of heritage buildings to protect them for future generations, we like to take the odd trip into the trees, using our rope access skills to help the community.In this case, we combined forces with School Outdoor Learning and created a canopy amongst the trees, so that children could have a place to learn outdoor skills. It’s not all Playstation and Sky TV these days – with this initiative, youngsters can learn fire making, tool handling, knot tying and enjoy other practical activities that gets them into the fresh air. We decided to put our documentary skills to good use, so you can watch our video to see the process of erecting the canopy. Notice how we approached the job by: Clearing the ground of debris and marking out post holesErecting the canopy material in the trees with wire cables and then fencing the panels inWrapping a wire halo around the entire structure so the canopy could be strung out to the sides tightlyRead More
Team WallWalkers were called in to help inspect the internal wooden frame structure of Winchester Cathedral’s attic. The cathedral was having a huge roof section re-leaded, and so WallWalkers needed to aid a thorough investigation as to the condition of the wood and note any dry rot, wood boring insects and past water damage that might have been sustained.
We met the timber frame expert by the name of Peter Collings of Hutton + Rostron (the company that pioneered the training of ‘Rothounds’ - dry rot search dogs in the UK, no less!), in order to give him an induction into the use of rope access equipment. We used the external scaffolding structure as a base to ‘show him the ropes’, so to speak, teaching him to use the kit and manoeuvre himself easily, so he could then be comfortable in the internal frame. Once he was comfortable with the kit and the system, we moved into the attic space and helped him reach all the areas that needed assessing up-close. Read More
WallWalkers - Pointing You in the Right Direction
First of all, let’s address the issue of pointing – what exactly is it?
Pointing is the external part of the mortar between bricks, put in place to create better surface run-off for rainwater and fewer gaps and ledges of stone for soil and thus plant life to seed and develop. Over time, this pointing can decay – whether gradually through weathering, or due to poor maintenance. Imagine you have a stone-wall with guttering at the top which becomes blocked, so water is able to overflow and seep into the bricks. When this freezes, the moisture will expand causing damage to the masonry, and can blow out the stone. Not good. This is referred to as 'freeze-thaw weathering'.
Clearly a wall like this would need repointing, but to avoid ongoing problems, it is essential to choose a good team to undertake this work.
WallWalkers have repointed a huge variety of structures, from Rievaulx Abbey to Tyndale Monument. And, when it comes to pointing, we specialise in the use of lime mortar mixes that blend with the building's natural history and character. Read More