Restoring the features at St Dyfnog’s Well has been incredibly challenging.
Historically access to the site was on foot only which meant getting materials to site was our first problem. To solve this we had to convert part of the site to a builders compound for material storage. We did this by removing the stone wall and putting a big gate in its place. Once the restoration work is complete we will rebuild the old wall again and install a small iron gate for pedestrian access.
The first feature tackled was the bridge immediately next to the well basin which was at threat of imminent collapse. In order to inspect the bridge we needed to stop the water entering the basin. We did this by diverting the water using sandbags into the old culvert and then pumping out the remaining water from the basin. This gave us the opportunity to assess the well basin which was fascinating and showed us that it had more leaks than we knew about!
Once the water had been diverted and the inspection carried out, work began to collect fallen masonry from within and below the basin which would be needed to rebuild the bridge. When the contractors, Grosvenor Construction, removed the earth covering the top of the bridge it finally collapsed, which was understandable as half of it had fallen away many years before. The contractors then cleared the soil back to make it safe for the workers before they began repairing the bridge and the culvert entrance.
To begin they built new footings for the bridge on the bedrock found in the stream using traditional lime mortar. This provided a stable base from which to build the arches of the bridge and culvert. To make the arch the contractors went to the tried and tested method first used by the Romans. They built a wooden arch first to act as a frame to hold the stones in place while they built the arch. Once the stones were in place the temporary wooden arch could come down.
Once the top bridge was stable again the contractors moved onto the other bridges which required repointing and rebuilding of the wing walls which stabilize the waterflow into the bridges and stop the erosion of the banks.
Our next big project will be the well basin so check back for more updates.