The Old Copper Mill - PAYE
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The Old Copper Mill

The Old Copper Mill

The Old Copper Mill in Walthamstowe is Grade II listed and located on the river accessed via Coppermill Lane. It was built in 1806 and was originally designed to crush linseed oil. Change of usage occurred in 1808, when the site was purchased by The British Copper Company and it was adapted for use in rolling Copper. The copper was smelted near Swansea in South Wales and brought by barge around the South coast, up the Thames and the Lea, then finally up the Coppermill Stream to the mill. Here they were rolled into sheets for general use and for covering ships’ hulls. From 1809 until 1814 the mill also produced copper penny and halfpenny’s at the on-site mint.

Production eventually ceased in 1857, the machinery was dismantled and taken back to Swansea. Soon afterwards, the mill was purchased by The East London Water Company who started building reservoirs on the marshes. One of the water wheels of the mill was altered to drive a water pump for building their reservoirs. The Italianate styled arcaded engine tower was added in 1864 when it is thought to have been added to house a steam engine. The main building is built from brick with large segmented arches on pilasters with stone capitals. The mill house was demolished in 1941 and the surviving buildings finally listed in 1951.

Walthamstow Wetlands is a large reservoir site of over 200 hectares managed by Thames Water. It is both a wildlife conservation area and the main source of water supply for 3.5 million people. The area has now been regenerated and from October 2017 was opened to the wider public for the first time in 150 years. This includes the conversion of the Coppermill tower into a viewing platform for bird watchers.

PAYE were approached in 2017 to address failure to some of the roofing which as a result was channelling water down into the brick substrate. The effect of this was to cause a number of structural issues which had seen widescale delamination and cracking to the external render. On examination, the render was found to be of an inappropriate cementicious blend, and was trapping moisture behind it and destabilising the brickwork beneath. Discussions were held as to whether the render should be removed in full, but it was felt that it would be too damaging and intrusive to complete. A number of previous repairs were also noted, but many had been carried out to a poor standard.

A survey was conducted over the building in full to identify the full scope of works. The roof was stripped and 50% of the York stone coping stones were replaced. Whilst the slate roof was off, all of the structural timbers were conserved before the installation of a Tyvek membrane and the reintroduction of the slate roof. Where loose or defective, the render was removed and any structural instability addressed with the introduction of stainless steel Helifix-ties. On completion of all structural works, the removed render was replaced and all elements redecorated.

All works were completed to programme over a period of approximately 4 months.