Grand old dame gets a makeover

Works to restore and preserve Castlemaine’s historic Market Building are continuing to draw a huge amount of interest.
The Express caught up with heritage contractors Ivy Constructions who are working closely with RBA Architects and Conservation Consultants to undertake extensive testing, maintenance and restoration work on the much-loved local icon on behalf of Mount Alexander Shire Council.
Council developed a Conservation Management Plan for the heritage-listed building in 2013, outlining its heritage values and significance, and providing guidance on required works to conserve and protect the important community asset. The works are being carried out under a permit exemption issued by Heritage Victoria.
Ivy Constructions managing director Martin Beuth said they learnt very early on in the project that the local community was fiercely protective and proud of the old dame.
“We have had questions and queries from community members from day one. In Melbourne we would have a site like this all sealed off to the public, but with this particular project we have enabled it to be accessible so the community can view the works unfold,” he said.
Mr Beuth said he received a fiery reception from one local lady who mistakenly thought he was painting over the historic building’s brickwork facade.
“Once I explained to her it was a poultice to draw out the salts we were all good!” he laughed.
The first stage of the project saw a towering boom brought in to enable the team to carefully clean the brickwork, render and paint the flagpole.
Mr Beuth said the transformation was quite dramatic as years of grime and mould were washed away.
They have also taken drill samples from bricks across the entire building, which have been analysed for salt, mineral and moisture content.
“We have conducted more than 120 tests,” he said.
The team then applied the special poultice in problem areas to draw out the salts from the brickwork.
“We then conduct more tests and reapply more poultice where necessary.
“It is slow work with the poultice taking up to two weeks to dry, forming a paper mache type substance that is then removed and cleaned away.”
Mr Beuth said the test results had been positive.
A specialist bricklayer is set to begin the replacement work shortly and then will repoint the bricks, including the tuckpoint on the building’s renowned facade.
“We have to replace around 150 bricks across the structure, so we have been on the hunt for handmade bricks in yards both locally and in Melbourne,” he said.
The team has also removed the floorboards along the interior walls on both sides of the building to undertake a closer inspection and testing of the building’s original sandstone footings.
Mr Beuth said it was an honour to work on such a unique building and help ensure it would be around for generations to come.
“It’s really amazing and one of those projects that you will always remember,” he said.

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