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It was cement to be


I wholeheartedly endorse the suggestion that engineers vote to save Castle House (NCE 1 July). In 1985 we looked at it on behalf of the local authority which was trying to prevent its demolition after serving a repairs notice on the developer who owned it. The Concrete Society, the Victorian Society and the Ancient Monument Society all wanted it saved because of its special engineering character and significance.

It was built in 1851 as a catalogue house intended to demonstrate the versatility of the use of Portland Cement and it contained wonderful, if slightly idiosyncratic, demonstration pieces including a unique suspended upper floor using 'reinforced concrete' beams with a 25mm diameter rod and two 35mm by 10mm flat bars supporting flat bricks.

You will find Castle House featured in NCE of 30 October 1986 following our work which proved that the structure could be repaired for around £110,000. We were asked to look at the building again by the Somerset Building Preservation Trust in 1990. This exercise ended with a local contractor quoting a sum of £172,000 for the repairs we had specified.

Unfortunately the Trust was unable to raise the funds necessary to rescue the building. No doubt the condition of the building has continued to deteriorate. Let's jump at this chance to save it!

Ken Brown, Kenneth Brown & Partners Consulting Engineers, 12 Dowry Square, Hotwells, Bristol, BS8 4SH

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