Context 144 - May 2015

C O N T E X T 1 4 4 : M A Y 2 0 1 6 33 IHBC North West Day Conference 2015, Manchester Home-grown architecture: towards a new vernacular Marcel Vellinga of Oxford Brookes University discussed ‘Re-imagining vernacularity’. Vernacular architecture was associated with the rural idyll rather than modern living, but distinctions were blurred. Traditions had spread and were shared through immigration and the railways. Culture was not static. Natural disaster and conflict had seen destruction, and social change had affected places. Peter Messenger discussed ‘Cumbrian vernacular’, constructed using local sandstone, gritstone and slate. Slate was both a roofing and walling material. Sandstone weathered when exposed.Walls were limewashed. The roofs were often stone flags. Cobble walls were common in central Cumbria. Earth construction (‘clay dabbins’) survived on the Solway Plain and in the Eden Valley. There was some evidence that pisé de terre (rammed earth) had been used. In the contested border area, defensive buildings had been constructed, and tower houses, stone houses and bastles survived. In the 17th and 18th centuries simple buildings had been constructed, lime rendered for protection against the climate. Trefor Thorpe discussed ‘Welsh vernacular’. Regional vernacular architecture was influenced by available materials, environment and weather, and culture and traditions. This had been clearer before the railways but vernacular was a murky concept. Wales was rainy, so timber and straw could rot and decay, and earth building could wash away, unless well maintained. In central Wales timber was readily available and there was little stone. The hall house had been common, with geographical variations: the Snowdonia house developed into two storeys; hall houses in east Wales had cruck frames; hall houses and long houses in the south west included byres. A centrally located fire was common and some buildings had wicker chimney structures. After the coming of the railways, styles were imported, and local idiosyncrasies and new materials were used in old styles. Increasing numbers of vernacular buildings were now being used as holiday lets, which was at least an active reuse. InWales there were new conversions, examples of pseudo-traditional buildings, modern design echoing vernacular tradition, and poor volume housing examples of ‘contemporary vernacular’. Chris O’Flaherty of the University of Central Lancashire discussed ‘Lancashire vernacular’. He focused on the Fylde, which was characterised by rivers and estuaries: some parts were moss land and sand dunes. In the late 16th century the mosses were drained. Early houses were cruck frames; later buildings had brick or cobble load-bearing perimeter and internal cross walls. The walls of Evoking the middle ages in Chester