PILOT PROJECT - TABERNACLE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH
The site for our pilot project was identified in 2013 to the rear of the Tabernacle United Reformed Church on the south side of Main Street. The Church was being modernised and extended to be used as a base for a number of community activities and Pembroke 21C Community Association had established their Pembroke Story Heritage Project there.
An innovative and important project is being developed by Pembroke 21C, linked to the Pembroke Story. Within the burgage and town walls behind the church they are creating a heritage community garden designed to enhance the Pembroke Story by telling the history of the town through planting – A Journey through Time.
Pembroke Town Walls Trust was invited to conserve the walls around the site as a pilot project and a Partnership Agreement between the three organisations was signed. The walls include a section of Town Wall with a lime kiln, and burgage walls on either side. Funding was secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, Cadw and Pembroke Town Council and the conservation of the walls was completed in 2020.
The site links the commons with the Main Street through the town walls, the garden and the church with an exhibition of the Pembroke Story inside the Church.
The pilot project has enabled us to learn our way forward, working with local Cadw Approved Architects, Mark Vines of Acanthus Holden, and seeking quotes from and working with local stone masons. The overgrowth in the garden and on the walls had to be cleared outside the bird nesting season each year and we are constantly grateful to the local Wildlife Trust and the Friends of the National Park for their help and advice.
The lime mortar used in the walls has to be mixed, processed and finished to Cadw’s pre-approved specification set out in full detail a document entitled ‘NBS Specification and Heritage Impact Assessment’. For example, every single stone to be moved/replaced must be from approved stock, concrete mortars cannot be used, and using the lime mortar is weather related, ie it cannot be mixed and used below a certain temperature or in heavy rain. The architects who maintain oversight of the work and the approved individual in the practice must sign off the processes and the work.
The development of the conservation of the northern perimeter walls is now in the early stages of a long-term undertaking. We have begun by starting to carefully clear them of vegetation and take a photographic record to identify the works needed. The clearance had to be halted due to the nesting season, but already significant damage has been revealed and identified.
Funding has been secured to begin the most urgently needed work from Pembrokeshire County Council’s Enhancing Pembrokeshire Scheme, and despite the lockdown and seasonal barriers, work has begun to the front gable wall of the gun platform near to the bridge. We have also secured further funding from Cadw towards the side walls of the platform.
However, the project is to take a phased long-term approach in collaboration with local stakeholders, with a programme of events and information to involve, engage and inform the local community and train local volunteers.
We also want to continue to develop the training of young stone masons we began as part of our pilot project, in collaboration with Pembrokeshire College, the Tywi Centre, Cyfle and CITB Wales.
The difficulty in securing the substantial funding needed for this size of project is that each section of wall is privately owned and the key stakeholders we need to approach will not support privately owned work.
So, much work is needed to be done to continue to develop the project by consulting owners, the local community and trainers as well as securing their support and that of the local authority, Welsh Government and elected representatives. Our preliminary work has revealed a number of complex problems that we now believe will only be resolved by a new and innovative way of thinking. Watch this space!
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