Friday, 04 December 2020

Museum wants second roof after failing to mend leaks

A SECOND roof is set to be built at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley

A SECOND roof is set to be built at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley because the current one leaks.

The museum in Mill Meadows is seeking permission from Henley Town Council, which owns the building, and will still require planning permission for the work.

The museum says that when it rains, water comes into the foyer and the treasures gallery and this has to be collected in buckets. Repeated repairs have failed to fix the problem.

It blames the building’s design, the need to site heating and ventilation equipment and the general deterioration of the existing roof materials.

In a letter to the council, museum chief executive Ludo Keston said: “The existing structure is allowing considerable volumes of water into the building and cannot effectively be repaired. While numerous attempts have been made in the intervening years to reseal the membrane in order to create a water-tight flat roof, these have all proved unsuccessful.

“During periods of rainfall, water seeps through the concrete slab and drips into the rooms below.”

The new roof would have a metal pre-fabricated frame with roofing panels that could be walked on for maintenance purposes. Rainwater falling on the new roof would be routed to existing pipes and gullies.

In a report to the council’s finance strategy and management committee, administrator Hilary King said: “The museum has looked at a number of solutions to correct the situation but it would appear that the only long-term fix would be to construct an additional roof area above the central gully.”

Mrs King said the new roof would have a small visual impact.

She said: “The original design of the building reflects two traditional Thames boat houses and the new roof undoubtedly will detract from the original design.

“However, it would seem that the current situation cannot continue without either causing long-term damage to the building or affecting the museum’s ability to fully utilise its space.”

The work would also include the installation of solar panels to reduce the museum’s energy consumption. These would be hidden from Mill Meadows by new oak cladding.

No details of the likely cost of the work or how it would be paid for have been revealed. Councillor David Nimmo Smith, who is a structural engineer, said: “I sympathise with the River and Rowing Museum in their predicament. I think this is the only sensible thing they can do.”

Councillor Jane Smewing said: “It is the only pragmatic thing. It is a very prestigious building.”

Committee chairman Will Hamilton said Mr Keston had consulted the building’s architects.

The committee also agreed to appoint two councillors to serve as trustees on the museum’s board.

Last month, councillors backed a proposed expansion of the museum which includes building decking above the grass area in front of the building and to move its café to the front.

The scheme, which would also require planning permission from South Oxfordshire District Council, would cost between £150,000 and £200,000.

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