14th July 2023

Stone floor install and HLC B-1 lining walls

The good weather finds Northfield making good progress with the installation of the upper basement insulation, with formwork in place to cast the lift shaft and inner walls.

 

Meanwhile Messenger have started carefully forming the new opening at the east end of the Great South Aisle that will link the new HLC building to the historic cathedral spaces, supporting the window cills and tracery above with temporary props whilst they install lintels under them. The age of the cathedral becomes very evident, with the removal of the Victorian and later facing stones revealing a core of medieval rubble stonework.

 

The laying of the floor is going well, with ABM Tiling laying the alternating bands of pale Purbeck, Ancaster and Hopton Wood limestone slabs in lime-sand mortar. . These strips run diagonally across the floor, linking the nave and aisles. With the pale limecrete screed and pale limestone floor being installed, it is easy to forget how gloomy the cathedral felt with the previous floor, of dark varnished oak parquet and grey sandstone.

All the stones have a degree of natural variation, which adds pleasing variation and life to the floor, as they are cut from individual blocks each of which has a particular texture and colour. As the new stone is laid it becomes evident how much water is still evaporating from the screed and mortar below, as when the tiles are laid they slowly get wet and them slowly begin to dry out, with the different limestone types reacting slightly differently, and individual within each band taking on a range of tones. This prompts some disquiet so some tiles are lifted, to check they dry out to the anticipated colour, and then reassured, the laying progresses.