Behind the scaffolding at historic former Post Office

Behind the scaffolding former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

A skilled team of builders, conservators and craftspeople are continuing to forge ahead with works to restore a historic Grade II listed building.

Having been closed and remained vacant since 2018, a scheme of work to repair the historic character of Lowestoft’s former Post Office has been under way since January, as part of an ongoing programme to unlock the potential of historic high streets.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

The intricate process of repairing the Victorian building’s exterior was showcased during a series of workshops earlier this month.

Repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre

Repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

Providing an insight into some of the work being carried out to conserve and repair the fabric of the building, in London Road North, ahead of internal works next year, our photographer Mick Howes captured these images behind the scaffolding.

Behind the scaffolding repair works former Post Office Lowestoft town centre

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

With the repairs being delivered through the London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme, the works are being funded by Historic England and East Suffolk Council, as well as the government-backed Towns Fund, as it is delivered in partnership with Lowestoft Town Council and East Suffolk Building Preservation Trust.

Behind the scaffolding repair works continue former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

Overseen by lead contractor RG Carter, the renovation project also features the skills of specialist architectural conservators, Aldis and May Ltd.

Behind the scaffolding repair works at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

The works - which feature air lime repointing, consolidation and mortar repairs to save as much of the original stone as possible - currently involves the removal of algae, lichens, sulphation crusts and dirt, as well as painstakingly stripping back a linseed oil surface coating applied to the building for weather protection.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

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'A landmark building'

Visualisation former Post Office Lowestoft

A visualisation of what the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre will look like. - Credit: East Suffolk Council

Katie May Langridge, senior architectural conservator at Aldis and May, said: “When the scaffolding went up, and we were able to undertake a full survey, we realised the stone was in a worse condition than was first thought.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue former Post Office building Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

“We think the linseed was applied at some point in the 20th century, but instead of protecting it, it discoloured and made the building less permeable, leading to decay.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue former Post Office Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

"We’ve been using a chemical pack that reacts with the oil to form a soap, allowing it to be removed with water.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue former Post Office building Lowestoft town centre

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

"It’s a very labour-intensive process but the results are well worth it.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

“It’s still a mark of the building’s quality that it has survived this long – and we can learn much about the materials and techniques used back then.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

“It’s a landmark building which was a significant part of the local community for many years when everything was done by post.”

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

'Historic site'

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

Works elsewhere in the building has seen cement removed from areas patched-up over the years, and a sacrificial sheltercoat applied to protect the more vulnerable areas of masonry. 

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

On the seventh storey of scaffolding, roof tiles have been stripped away before being replaced and reinsulated.

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

Ahead of the interior renovation work starting next year, Gavin Leeks, building solutions manager at R G Carter, said: “Being able to transform this historic and important site has been a pleasure for the whole team to work on.

Behind the scaffolding repair works former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

“Work is progressing well, with stonework replacement under way in various areas including the front façade, new Welsh slate roof coverings being laid and refurbishment and restoration work taking place on all windows, with the original glass and traditional craftsman techniques being used.

Repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre

Repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

“We have also enjoyed giving the local community the opportunity to take part in educational workshops showcasing some of the traditional crafts and skills required to maintain these incredible buildings.”

Behind the scaffolding repair works former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

The project team comprises lead architects Chaplin Farrant, conservation architects Kings and Dunne, and structural engineers, The Morton Partnership, with subcontractors including Abbeygate Masonry (stone repairs) and Aldis & May (stone restoration and cleaning).

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft

Behind the scaffolding as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in Lowestoft town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

'Flagship project'

Views of Lowestoft as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in the town centre

Views of Lowestoft as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in the town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development, said: “It’s great to see work progressing on the restoration of this grand old building in the heart of Lowestoft.

Views of Lowestoft as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in the town centre

Views of Lowestoft as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in the town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

“It’s equally satisfying to know that many of the techniques being used to restore the building have been honed locally.

“I can’t wait to see the old Post Office looking as impressive as the day it began serving the local community all those years ago.”

former Post Office building Lowestoft town centre.

Views of Lowestoft as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in the town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

Tony Calladine, East of England regional director at Historic England said: “The revitalisation of the former Post Office is a flagship project for the London Road, Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone.

Views of Lowestoft as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in the town centre

Views of Lowestoft as repair works continue at the former Post Office building in the town centre. - Credit: Mick Howes

“It’s wonderful to see repair work progressing so well, and fascinating to learn about the craftmanship that was employed to create this important building."