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Tonight's Restoration Man - Fearn


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#1 ProDave

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 10:45 PM

Watched tonight's Restoration man on Channel 4.

It featured the old control tower at Fearn Airfield near Tain, about 15 miles from me.

I remember seeing it come on the market years ago, a derelict shell of a building over 4 floors.

I pass nearby it frequently on the way to Balintore, a place I do quite a bit of work (and one of the best sandy beaches near here). I was aware the old control tower was being worked on but never expected it to feature on a tv program.

They put back the original style Crital windows (but with double glazing) which cost about £100K (40% of their £250K budget)

The other thing that surprised me is they said "tradesmen are hard to find and expensive in the Highlands". I had better put my prices up then. Mind I wouldn't have taken the job even if asked, they wanted it all done in galvanised steel conduit, something I have not done since my apprentice days.

Edited by ProDave, 21 January 2015 - 10:46 PM.


#2 windsurf21

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 10:51 PM

I would guess that "tradesmen are hard to find and expensive in the highlands" when your from London

#3 ProDave

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 10:54 PM

I can't believe tradesmen are more expensive here than London.

I do know many have a very laid back "I'll turn up when I like" attitude. The No 1 reason people give for recommending me is that I turn up to look at or actually do a job when I said I would.

#4 Pocolow

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 11:13 PM

They seemed a bit naïve thinking they could manage such a build from 600 miles away, though the potential is great when (if) finished. You could tell George realised they were out of their depth.

Mark.

#5 jsharris

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 07:54 AM

We only live about 16 miles from our build, and the one really big lesson I learned (luckily fairly early on) is that you do need to be on site a lot. The times when I was on site most days were those where there were least issues, 99% of them only really tiny things, but if you're intent on getting something right then you need to be there.

The other important thing about being there a lot is you get to know your neighbours and those in the local community and that is extremely useful when it comes to finding reliable and good tradespeople. I suspect that, had that couple been living nearby they'd have had no problem finding good people to work on their build. They probably just weren't familiar with the concept that 90% of good tradespeople don't need to advertise, as they get most of their work by word of mouth. Not a lot of use to them if they were 600 miles away.

#6 ProDave

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 08:49 AM

Yes you don't want to be remotely handling a project like that.

Similar to our first build. We were living in Oxfordshire when we bought the first plot. We had a holiday on site in our touring caravan to meet with architects and the builder who actually built it.

Then we went back south for the winter. Spent a lot of time on the phone with the builder sorting out the finer points of the house.

Then in the spring we had two separate trips up here, one to install the septic tank and one to get the water and electricity on site (that wouldn't happen in a week now with all the extra bureaucracy involved)

And finally we moved up into the caravan in time for the builders starting work.

#7 wmacleod

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 09:00 AM

Funny you mention this one, it came to my mind yesterday when NorwayJohn was talking about his plans for an airstrip. Didn't realise it was sold and refurbished, will have to watch it later. I can remember personally being kicked out of there a few years ago by one particularly obnoxious owner whose attitude to locals may account for a difficulty in finding tradesmen to work on the building and having to pay London rates.

#8 bitpipe

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 01:09 PM

Saw this last night too, (the wife is partial to a bit of George on TV), note how he always slips a pic of himself into the book he hands over :)

We'll be staying on site in a caravan during our works and hope it will make things go more smoothly. It will obviously save us money in rental but will likely be a bumpy ride also.

It has complicated the services though, we've really had to juggle to get them disconnected from the existing dwelling (to facilitate demolition) but keep them on site for on going use (I'm looking at you BT) and planning how to reconnect in an efficient manner.

Timing is key as well, I've just had to postpone the gas disconnection as our schedule has slipped due to more ground investigation being required and we can't really live without it in this weather.

#9 joeirish

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 02:04 PM

Fair play to them for actually saving an almost derelict building with so much history attached to it in its own short life. I thought the interviews with the retired RAF pilots and WREN lady showed how important it is to preserve places like this. And only five left in the entire UK of all those built! Should the owners not be getting some financial support like that given to some of those who live in stately homes? Hope they have a successful completion.

#10 ProDave

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 03:45 PM

I don't think there is an airstrip there any more at least not on the main site next to the control tower. The control tower was sold by the farmer that used to own it together with 3 acres of land, but they commented the runways had gone and crops were growing where they used to be. Strange that as every other disused airfield I have seen still has the runways present as the cost and effort of removing them must be immense.

There is still an airfield there on part of the old RAF site http://www.easterairfield.co.uk/ but that's just a grass strip.

Like a lot of these programs there was not much detail. for instance they were exposing the steel reinforcing in a lot of the pillars. Presumably once they had done that and cleaned up / treated the steel, they re cast the concrete around the pillars, but they don't show detail like that.

They don't go into details like drainage etc. I guess there must have been a septic tank there form the RAF days, I wonder if they are still using that or if they have put a new system in?

I note it is a Grade C listed building, I have only ever heard of A and B before so I guess the restrictions are not as onerous?

There's a little bit about RAF Fearn / HMS Owl on the Tain through time website http://www.tainmuseu....uk/hms-owl.asp

Edited by ProDave, 22 January 2015 - 04:05 PM.


#11 joiner

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 03:50 PM

Those Crittal windows are extraordinarily similar to the originals. The last holiday cottage we were in had them and when we drove up I groaned. It wasn't until I got close up and personal that you could see the 2g. Very cleverly done for Conservation/Heritage purposes.

Edited by joiner, 22 January 2015 - 07:30 PM.


#12 notnickclegg

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 04:27 PM

We're re-using some Crittall windows internally in our new house. There was virtually nothing else from the old house that was worth saving (the windows are actually from the original workshop!)

Jack

#13 djvasey

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 09:30 PM

Thanks Dave for drawing my attention to the programme, it brought back some memories for me when I was based up there in the 1970's ? I was working for Plessey (EAE) at the time, (not with the RAF) but looking after the comms to the jet barge 331 which was trenching and laying a pipeline. I stayed in Balintore but in the summer months my VW caravette came in handy parked very near to the tower. I have a feeling there was more tarmac then but could be wrong. I couldn't believe how beautiful the area was the beach was great nearly as good as Bamburgh. The fishermen were very active with their complaints about the jet barge damaging their nets and long discussions went on regarding compensation. The jet barge itself was some piece of kit...... two jumbo jet engines which together produced 20,000 psi of water jets on the sledge to cut through the seabed for the pipe to fall into from the stern of the barge. Tony Benn , energy minister had to sign off the release for the fuel required for the job as it was such a large amount.
Portmahomac was a great place to visit, east Coast fishing village that looked west, and the RAF fighters I guess from Lossiemouth used to fly in low on their practice runs..... good memories , Regards David


#14 wmacleod

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 09:37 PM

Just watched the program, quite interesting but what is up with the fitting remote control electric blinds before the inside is sorted, not wise that. Runways, haven't been for a few years now but I think they are wrong and they are still there,there is just a good carpet of moss over them now with the reduced access, was getting that way years ago although it was occasionally used by light aircraft. They were at one stage going to put some big wind turbines in and the fact that it was still there was going to save a lot of hardcore and access road creation. I think they would be forced to put a new treatment plant in. I think the only way to get it to a livable stage where someone can actually afford to live there is to get some external wall insulation onto it. I mean, its painted black and you can't really see the brickwork now - EWI it, black flat render. It will just be impossible to heat otherwise. Some good heavy curtains would be of more use than those electric blinds in the heating season. I'm pleased they've put some effort into saving it but George was right, the nissen hut should have been done first to give a holiday home/base to work from.

With regards to the workmen issue - before they leave the airfield, a stones throw from their tower there are both a very good joiner/builder firm and a similarly rated electrical firm...

Djvasey, its Portmahomack! The beach shots in the program are Port beach as its nicer than Balintore ;) Still have all sorts flying around, Tain bombing range is still active.

#15 hmsowl1941

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 03:59 PM

View PostPocolow, on 21 January 2015 - 11:13 PM, said:

They seemed a bit naïve thinking they could manage such a build from 600 miles away, though the potential is great when (if) finished. You could tell George realised they were out of their depth.

Mark.
Yes we were a bit naive.
Easier now we live up here and hoping we can do it justice.

#16 hmsowl1941

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 04:02 PM

View Postjoeirish, on 22 January 2015 - 02:04 PM, said:

Fair play to them for actually saving an almost derelict building with so much history attached to it in its own short life. I thought the interviews with the retired RAF pilots and WREN lady showed how important it is to preserve places like this. And only five left in the entire UK of all those built! Should the owners not be getting some financial support like that given to some of those who live in stately homes? Hope they have a successful completion.
Thanks Joe Irish.
We will be done over summer and looking forward to finishing.

#17 hmsowl1941

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 04:09 PM

View PostProDave, on 22 January 2015 - 03:45 PM, said:

I don't think there is an airstrip there any more at least not on the main site next to the control tower. The control tower was sold by the farmer that used to own it together with 3 acres of land, but they commented the runways had gone and crops were growing where they used to be. Strange that as every other disused airfield I have seen still has the runways present as the cost and effort of removing them must be immense.

There is still an airfield there on part of the old RAF site http://www.easterairfield.co.uk/ but that's just a grass strip.

Like a lot of these programs there was not much detail. for instance they were exposing the steel reinforcing in a lot of the pillars. Presumably once they had done that and cleaned up / treated the steel, they re cast the concrete around the pillars, but they don't show detail like that.

They don't go into details like drainage etc. I guess there must have been a septic tank there form the RAF days, I wonder if they are still using that or if they have put a new system in?

I note it is a Grade C listed building, I have only ever heard of A and B before so I guess the restrictions are not as onerous?

There's a little bit about RAF Fearn / HMS Owl on the Tain through time website http://www.tainmuseu....uk/hms-owl.asp

Hi,
The listings in scotland are different to anything we had c

View Postdjvasey, on 22 January 2015 - 09:30 PM, said:

Thanks Dave for drawing my attention to the programme, it brought back some memories for me when I was based up there in the 1970's ? I was working for Plessey (EAE) at the time, (not with the RAF) but looking after the comms to the jet barge 331 which was trenching and laying a pipeline. I stayed in Balintore but in the summer months my VW caravette came in handy parked very near to the tower. I have a feeling there was more tarmac then but could be wrong. I couldn't believe how beautiful the area was the beach was great nearly as good as Bamburgh. The fishermen were very active with their complaints about the jet barge damaging their nets and long discussions went on regarding compensation. The jet barge itself was some piece of kit...... two jumbo jet engines which together produced 20,000 psi of water jets on the sledge to cut through the seabed for the pipe to fall into from the stern of the barge. Tony Benn , energy minister had to sign off the release for the fuel required for the job as it was such a large amount.
Portmahomac was a great place to visit, east Coast fishing village that looked west, and the RAF fighters I guess from Lossiemouth used to fly in low on their practice runs..... good memories , Regards David
Come visit us when the b and b opens!
should be finished june july time..finally!!

#18 hmsowl1941

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 04:12 PM

View PostProDave, on 21 January 2015 - 10:45 PM, said:

Watched tonight's Restoration man on Channel 4.

It featured the old control tower at Fearn Airfield near Tain, about 15 miles from me.

I remember seeing it come on the market years ago, a derelict shell of a building over 4 floors.

I pass nearby it frequently on the way to Balintore, a place I do quite a bit of work (and one of the best sandy beaches near here). I was aware the old control tower was being worked on but never expected it to feature on a tv program.

They put back the original style Crital windows (but with double glazing) which cost about £100K (40% of their £250K budget)

The other thing that surprised me is they said "tradesmen are hard to find and expensive in the Highlands". I had better put my prices up then. Mind I wouldn't have taken the job even if asked, they wanted it all done in galvanised steel conduit, something I have not done since my apprentice days.
Hello,
Much easier to find tradesman now we live up here.
We will finish the work soonish and resto man will come back and see us. will let you know.

#19 hmsowl1941

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 04:15 PM

View Postwmacleod, on 22 January 2015 - 09:00 AM, said:

Funny you mention this one, it came to my mind yesterday when NorwayJohn was talking about his plans for an airstrip. Didn't realise it was sold and refurbished, will have to watch it later. I can remember personally being kicked out of there a few years ago by one particularly obnoxious owner whose attitude to locals may account for a difficulty in finding tradesmen to work on the building and having to pay London rates.
Hello,
glad to say it was neither of us. seen your van around and about since we've lived up here.
Come have a look when we done.
Much easier to manage the project since we moved up here!
Cheers.

#20 stones

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 04:17 PM

Welcome hmsowl1941, I think there would be a lot of interest if you could document your restoration in a blog.

There is a proposal to restore the control tower and cinema at HMS Tern up here in Orkney. Hearing how you dealt with all aspects of your restoration would be be very helpful, as I think from the current state of the buildings in question, that they will encounter the same issues you have.