No 1 Machine Shop

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

No 1 Machine Shop (nowadays Machine Shop and Works Office (H5)) is a prominent two-storeyed building from the early 1850s in the eastern corner of the Bottom Yard at Boston Lodge. Since No 2 Machine Shop (in the old Foundry) went out of use it is now the only Machine Shop in the Works.

Machine Shop (No 1) with Offices above
Location Boston Lodge on the eastern corner of the Bottom Yard, on the south side of No 2 Machine Shop (formerly Foundry) and north of the Old Erecting Shop.
Register No 102
T. Corner ID BL015
Operational Yes
Heritage Status Grade 2 listed. All works that materially effect its character will require Listed Building Consent.
Historical significance The building itself is very significant. The first Machine Shop was actually in the original Engine House built in 1847-8 following the Company's decision to manufacture waggon metalwork in house. After the success of this project the Company wished to expand capacity and in 1850 acquired the land now forming the Bottom Yard and authorised construction of a new Carpenters Shop, an extension to the Sawmill and this extension to the Machine Shop, though at the time it was considered an extension of the Engine House but in fact accommodated an additional lathe. The first floor was a pattern loft or Model Room accessed by slate steps to the rear. Here were made and stored the wooden patterns used to make impressions in sand to be cast in iron in the Foundry. Its four-windowed front aspect became a prominent feature of the Bottom Yard as seen in Bleasdale's 1887 photograph.

An additional single storey bay was added at the rear probably in 1877 when the first Erecting Shop was built.

Despite their separate appearance all these buildings were joined together. The Engine House part of the building burnt down in 1939 with collateral damage to the Sawmill, Foundry and Machine Shop.

Following the reopening of the Railway the Pattern Loft was converted into a Works Manager's office in 1971.

The external steps were demolished in 1974 and an electrical substation built on the ground floor on the rear part of the burned-out site of the Engine House, and new metal external steps to the offices to the first floor were built.

Following demolition of the chimney of the old boiler house in 1978[1] the Machine Shop building was extended (1979-80[2]) at its north end to occupy the site of the old Engine House, and it now links to the old Foundry of 1848 which had by then become No 2 Machine Shop. The offices in the upper floor were extended on to the flat roof of the Electricity Sub Station and internal stairs in the extension replaced the external ones.

A number of the historic machine tools have been replaced by more modern machines and are now elsewhere in the works or at Minffordd.

Cadw Blg ID 14412. Cadw listing text as follows:-

Interior. (first floor) now converted to offices. Exterior. Of local slate rubble construction with slate roofs. It is 2-storey with wide eaves, bracketed to gable end, and small-pane sashes (25 and 30-pane); 3-original windows to the ground floor, replacement copies above. Rebuilt and extended to the left, which is cement-rendered with modern windows except one original window to first floor. Lean-to at rear with further small-pane sash windows. Reason for Listing. Listed as part of this especially complete example of a C19 railway engineering works which has important historical associations with the Ffestiniog Railway. Group value with other listed items at Boston Lodge.

Description The original 2 storey part of the building mostly retains its appearance with solid stone walls and multipane sash windows, under a duo pitched slate roof. The 1877 extension at rear has modern lean-to corrugated-metal roofing. The 1974 substation has rendered blockwork walls. The external wall of the 1980 extension containing the entrance and internal stairs is rendered and contains panels of glass blocks as windows to light the interior. Slate 'slips' ie thin pieces of slate have been used as an architectural detail around the openings and to the external corner of the building (see photos below). This detailing and the glass blocks are unusual and may to some appear incongruous and visually distracting in an otherwise 19th century environment, to others a distinctive example of Vernacular Modernism, or even Rustic Art Deco. The glass blocks also feature in other buildings of the period, such as the new Den. Some of the slate slips have fallen off and will require replacement. In a 2020 televison appearance probably shot in 2019[3] it was seen that the slate slips and their setting had been removed in some areas around the door and windows exposing the brickwork beneath. This was clearly work in progress. In visual terms this part of the building is probably of low significance as from most viewpoints the extension is largely obscured by other buildings.
Present use Machine shop on ground floor and offices above
Previous use Machine shop with pattern loft above. Extension is on site of old Engine House.
Condition The building is generally sound but there are repairs and reinstatements needed to the roof structure, walls and rainwater disposal
Urgent and Immediate Repairs required Urgent and immediate repairs required (unless corrected since photos were taken in 2013):-
  1. Extend plastic rainwater pipe to discharge onto ground.
Less urgent repairs A summary of the repairs required are as follows:-
  1. Replace defective ridge tiles
  2. Replace corroding verge flashings with a more traditional approach to weather protecting the verge.
  3. Rainwater disposal - replace plastic gutters and down pipes with cast iron
  4. Strip paint off woodwork and repaint (linseed oil paint recommended).
Improvements needed The following works go beyond 'repairs'.
  1. Works in progress to repair appearance of slate slips on front elevation of extension.
  2. Rake out inappropriate cement pointing and repoint with lime mortar
  3. Inspect electrical power and lighting and upgrade if required.
  4. Strip paint from all exterior woodwork and repaint with linseed oil paint.
  5. Former doorway next to front door is still blanked off with unpainted plywood (2019)
Potential alternative uses The future use of this building is included within a larger scheme of conservation works to reinstate and conserve the buildings of the Works. Present plans are to retain its present functions.
  1. ^ Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 83, page(s): 6
  2. ^ Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 87, page(s): 7
  3. ^ The Architecture the Railways Built (Episode 2), Yesterday Channel, UKTV