Crownhill Fort February 2018

by Ed Donohue

Ed Donohue (Manager of Crownhill Fort) writes about the recently completed repairs to the doors of the historic gun shed.

One of the buildings facing the central Parade Ground at Crownhill Fort is known as the Gun Sheds. It was used to store movable armament that could be deployed to the military road running approximately 400 yards to the south during times of need. Today the building retains many internal partitions added by the MoD and is let to five small businesses as workshop and storage space.

The Gun Sheds are constructed from stone with the roof and front elevation supported by a cast iron frame. The door hinges have been bolted to the pillars suggesting these are a later addition. The earliest photographs of the building date to 1922 and these show the Gun Sheds complete with doors.

The damp sea air, combined with some previous repairs of poor quality, led to many of the north-facing doors becoming very rotten and in need of repair. As with all Landmark projects, it was our intention to retain as much original material as possible, making sympathetic repairs only where necessary.

Fortunately the frames of the doors were sound meaning that only the stiles needed replacement. Sections of tongue and groove timber with dimensions matching the originals were sourced from a local timber merchant and tantalised. These new sections were carefully slid in to replace the timber which was beyond repair and any exposed end grain was liberally treated to prevent moisture ingress. Now that they have been painted, it is very difficult to tell which parts have been replaced.

The timber was treated with Bird Brand anti-rot and woodworm killer, Ronseal wet-rot wood hardener was used alongside Ronseal high-performance wood filler to rebuild sections of the existing stiles. The doors were painted using the Dulux Trade Weathershield Gloss system. The topcoat is Copperbeech (colour 04C38) with a dark grey undercoat.

All in all, 9 pairs of doors were completed over a 2 year period. Much of the work was carried out by Bob Metcalf who is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance at Crownhill Fort who worked alongside volunteer Rob Pymm, a retired carpenter.