Walker and Imperial Hall - Kilbirnie, North Ayrshire

LTM Group Ltd were the chosen contractors for the refurbishment and repair of Walker Memorial Hall & the Knox Building, in Kilbirnie, for North Ayrshire Council through the CARS scheme. Dedicated to Dr Walker a former Kilbirnie physician the Walker hall was a thriving dance hall in the 1950s. It played host to famous names such as Gerry & the Pacemakers and Billy Haley and his Comets. It now contains the citizens advice bureau as well as well as various other community groups.

Scope of Work

Walker and Imperial Hall Features

Pictured: Walker and Imperial Hall Features

The lack of regular maintenance combined with inappropriate modern repairs had resulted in both buildings falling into disrepair. The combination of defective roof coverings and cement render coatings of soft clay bricks resulted in progressive water ingress over decades, which over time finally resulted in extensive wet and dry rot to roof, wall and floor timbers throughout the buildings.

The works comprised of stone replacement and consolidation to the front facade and extensive cement render removal from the clay brick substrate to all other elevations and replacing with a breathable new lime coating.

The roofs were stripped of their lead and slate coverings to expose the eaves and verge timbers, this allowed for extensive wet rot repairs consisting of minimalistic splice repairs to the rafter ends and new wall plates.

The internal lath and plaster walls were stripped back to expose the destructive dry rot with all rot required to be cut out, new splicing of floor joist ends and replacement of traditional plaster & lath wall finished with detailed cornices.

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Challenges and Considerations

Walker and Imperial Hall Interior

Pictured: Walker and Imperial Hall Interior

The key challenges were to deliver the extensive scope of works within a restricted site located on Kilbirnie High Street. The site was surrounded with a burn to the East Elevation, a public High Street to the West Elevation and narrow neighbouring tight paths separating the South Elevation.

All construction materials including circa 100 tonne of scaffolding, 40 cube of mortar along with Lead, Timber & Plaster had to be manually transported to site. Whilst 27 Tonne of cement render, 10 tonne of rotten timber and the scaffolding had to be removed off the site in the same fashion.

The refurbishment works had to be undertaken whilst the buildings were in use and the key to the success of the project meant that the businesses and community events needed to continue with minimal disruption.

Another key challenge to be considered was the necessity to remove circa 900 sq/m of dense cement render from a soft clay brick without damaging the lost features under the modern render, whilst being able to reproduce the sharp detailing back into the new harl finished

One of the conditions set within the contract was to bring future employment and training back into the community for the duration of the contract, which included taking on 4 apprentices and delivering a series of training opportunities while the project was being undertaken.

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Solutions to Problems

Walker and Imperial Hall Roof

Pictured: Walker and Imperial Hall Roof

The restrictions to the site were overcome by constructing a 3m wide bridge made from scaffolding over the burn to allow all the materials and plant to be transported on and off the site. The waste produce was managed by separating the waste into different building types and disposing of it in separate skips to reduce mixed waste whilst the cement render was broken down and used as soak away drainage material to minimise costs.

The Site Manager worked closely with the caretaker, businesses, neighbours and community that used the buildings to ensure that all rooms were available and presentable for the requested dates and times.

Despite the difficulties in removing the stubborn cement renders, great consideration was taken to ensure that the render was removed as carefully as possible through numerous tool box talks and monitoring processes. Lost profiles was build back up with lime mortars to ensure the curved cill and dental corbeling detailing which was once lost was reinstated back to its formal features, giving the building back its sharp architectural features that give the building its importance.

LTM Group employed 4 trainees specifically for the project and our Academy delivered a series of National Progression Awards in Masonry Conservation to provide then the knowledge to obtain a number on SQA units.

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Walker and Imperial Hall


Walker and Imperial Hall - Kilbirnie, North Ayrshire

Area of Expertise

Public Buildings

Craft Skills & Solutions

  • Lime Harling
  • Lime Plaster Conservation
  • Replace Indent Stone

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Walker and Imperial Hall - Kilbirnie, North Ayrshire

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