Some of the services that the WallWalkers team are often called upon for are the issue of inspection, as well as providing safety and security for those wanting to get up close and hands-on in hard to access areas. One recent example is Winchester Cathedral:
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 water damage that might have been sustained in the past.
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.
Peter used a specialised Sibtec Drill, which gives a reliable non-destructive detection and analysis of decay in any type of wood. After gathering this information, Peter and the WallWalkers team could carefully assess any concerns that had become apparent through the up-close examination that was only made possible using our rope access systems.
Dry rot was found to be prevalent in numerous areas, as well as many wood boring insects (however, these weren’t causing too much concern due to the integral strength of the timber frame versus the 1mm wide burrowing holes). We also looked under a magnifying glass at certain sections of wood (see photo below), to assess the nature of its degradation and decide upon an effective course of action. It was deemed necessary that some of the dry-rot wood would need replacing, and so WallWalkers were asked to return for an extra two days to carry out further inspection, just to ensure no areas had gone unseen.
Peter noted the vast benefits inherent in the rope access method we use in comparison to other forms of access. Ours not only allowed him to get right up close to areas of concern, but also enabled him to explore areas that would not have been accessible without our system in place. We thoroughly look forward to working with him in the future – and perhaps the company’s famous Rothounds!