Wood Tars and their Application to Historic Buildings
PRE-RECORDED Online lecture
Running time: 1 hour
Available to watch until: 31 December 2020
This session took place originally on 15 July 2020.
In 1998 Michael Knights took part in an EU project under the auspices of the RAPHAEL programme, looking at the manufacture and use of traditional materials in the conservation of buildings and other structures.
The practical side of the project took place in Gotland and later in Norfolk. Wood tar has been used for thousands of years as a timber preservative as well as a medicinal product.
It has many useful properties and is used extensively in Scandinavia to protect softwood joinery used in the construction of wooden buildings as well as traditional sailing ships. It can be colored with earth pigments to vary the finish when applied to wooden walls and ceilings.
The talk will focus on Mike's experiences in Gotland, looking at how tar is extracted from pine tree roots. It will cover Mike's experiments with the pine tree forests of Norfolk using different timber samples and applications of wood tars on East Anglia earth buildings and Norfolk windmills.
Whilst wood tars are not well understood in this country today (apart from the use of Stockholm Tar as a veterinary product), it does still have a practical use where soft wood timbers are left exposed to the elements either as small wooden buildings, fences and wall cladding.
About the speaker
Michael Knights, Planning and Historic Building Adviser
Michael studied town and country planning at Hammersmith College of Design and Building and Trent University, followed by a career in historic building conservation. In 1985 he became Museum Director of a C19th working brewery in Burton upon Trent and presented BBC2 documentary on beer, before becoming an historic building officer for Norfolk County Council in 1991. Michael completed a six month research project on wood tars as a timber preservative and linseed oil based paints. He has been an elected member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (1974) and held the roles of national treasurer and regional chairman of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (1997). Michael retired in 2010 but remains involved with planning and building conservation issues groups, trusts and organisations.
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