Destroying Dry rot to create “hive of creative activity” for the surrounding community

Client: George Hurst & Sons Ltd


The former Anns Grove School is made up of several Victorian buildings overlooking the Heeley Millennium Park. The buildings and stone boundary walls belong to the greatest collection of surviving Victorian School Board architecture outside of London, complete with the Victorian innovation of a natural ventilation system.

The long history of the old school is very important to the local people and Timberwise were requested to carry out a full timber and damp survey as the derelict school was to be transformed into a “hive of creative activity” for the surrounding community.


Anns Grove had been empty for seven years, meaning the building was allowed to decay. Certain parts of the roof were open and had become a nesting/breeding ground for pigeons resulting in a substantial amount of pigeon guano. This required specialist removal due to the potentially extreme health issues. Missing slates, guttering and other rainwater goods, which combined with the general overall poor degree of maintenance, had allowed a substantial amount of water ingress over the years.

As water had been allowed to free flow into the property over many years before any form of conversion was attempted, a severe outbreak of Dry rot affected many areas of the timber all through the building. Furthermore, because other external works had taken place over the years, the external ground level/pavement was higher than the internal floor level of the cellar, which had led to an ingress of water laterally through the walls, which again was causing general issues of damp and degradation to the building.

As well as Dry rot, the severe amount of water had also caused Wet rot and severely damaged all internal plastering and many other areas of internal decoration.

In all commercial buildings and, in particular, the ones that have undergone a number of changes over the years, Timberwise always checks for any sign of the use of the asbestos. The customer is made aware that if during the works any asbestos in uncovered, work must cease immediately the customer and the relevant authorities must be made aware.

The asbestos must be removed by a specialist company and in such circumstances only when we have been given the green light are we able to carry on and complete in the full knowledge that all of this asbestos has been safely removed from the building.

The roof was stripped back, and the timbers were checked and replaced/treated where necessary. Once re-slated, and the valley and perimeter gutters made watertight, Timberwise could then commence the necessary internal masonry sterilisation works to ensure that we have fully eradicated the Dry rot.

The careful inspection and removal of all Dry rot affected timbers had to be undertaken with complete diligence, and the timbers fully removed where infected. In all cases, Timberwise removed 500 mm past the last sign of an outbreak to ensure that all potentially affected timber had been stripped from the building.

In all of the specialist works that we undertake the eradication and treatment for Dry rot is potentially the most difficult. It requires a very skilled survey and investigation team to work together in assessing and removing/treating all affected areas to ensure there are no further outbreaks and that once completed the building can be reinstated in the full knowledge that it will stand the test of time, thus giving it a completely new useful lease of life.


The client’s site contains three listed buildings, in which Timberwise carried out a series of remedial works over the years, two of which are still planned for future development. This will include artist and makers’ studios, a rehearsal hall, and further business space as well as a home for events and performances.

With our Yeadon office close by, it’s always a key priority to help become active the community and having a thriving community hub is an important way of enabling that. We look forward to  developers and local residents in raising further funds to create an inter-generational community hub at the heart of Heeley

Martin Wilkinson - Remedial Surveyor and Waterproofing Design Specialist CSRT CSSW


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