Phase One Concludes

Before restoration work began

blog 2

Nancy Whytock, Dumisani Librarian, has now re-shelved the displaced  books in preparation for semester two  – the final coat of paint is yet to be applied

The books are now back in place in the Bible Room (where Phase One of our renovations were undertaken) and all of the commentary sets have been put back in order.   We are awaiting the final coat of paint but are ready to begin the second semester in July.

The next phase, Phase Two, of the library restoration will involve the exterior walls.  In Phase Three we plan to repair the chancel floor area – a wooden floor with rot.

Phases Two and Three are not yet scheduled, so for now our blog is complete.   Thank you for your interest in our library and in this restoration project.

#10 Interior Primer Being Added

Some of the corners need caulking

The walls have dried very well with the damp proofing and we are now able to apply the primer paint to the chancel and transept walls.  This means we hope we will soon be able to apply the finish paint to the interior.  Once that finish coat is on, PHASE ONE of our restoration project will be complete!

One of our lecturers, Dr. Greg Phillips, checking out the progress



the walls are already brighter now that the base coat is complete

#9 Damp Proofing Stage

We are encouraged!  The new plaster has dried on the interior and exterior chancel walls and we are not seeing evidence of rising damp at this point.  A new down pipe has been installed to take away the roof rain water on the chancel and we believe this guttering problem together with the tree roots was a major contribution for the deterioration of the chancel walls over many years.  Now we have begun the damp proofing of the interior chancel and transept walls and also the new wall of concrete on the exterior chancel wall.

  • new down pipe
  • damp proofing of interior chancel & transept walls
  • beginning of primer over damp proofing
products being applied to prevent recurring dampness
applying the damp proofing
priming the walls
new down pipes fitted on the repaired exterior chancel walls
waiting now for a good down pour to test out our repairs!


the exterior chancel wall has also been damp proofed – notice completed trench

#8 A Trench Across the East Chancel Exterior Wall

It was decided that the best way to deal with the water problem was to dig a trench across the new retaining wall.  The retaining wall will serve as a buttress support and also one side of a new trench.  The trench has been graded with enough slope for the water to run.  Damp proof was laid first, then stone, covered by concrete.  Pre-fab long blocks were donated and have formed one wall for the trench.

You will also see by the photos that the northeast corner of the exterior chancel wall has been re-plastered.  This is the corner that was difficult to dry out on the inside.  Chicken mesh was used over the exposed brick before the plaster was applied to this corner.


William building the trench
making sure the trench is built up in the centre to allow for run-off in both directions
exterior condition of brick on northeast chancel corner


repaired northeast exterior wall

#7 Repairing the Exterior Chancel Walls

The chancel exterior corners were very unstable with water coming through the plaster and brick.  The cracked plaster was removed and concrete was added to stabilize the corners and east wall.   William Nel from Bedford, Eastern Cape and his son, Clayton, have joined the team of workers for this project.  William has many years of experience and Clayton is young and strong.


the brick had deteriorated significantly (in the corner areas especially)
forms were made from the wood paneling removed from the interior chancel walls
the base of the east wall and around each corner has been rebuilt with cement
removing the forms now that the base of the wall has been rebuilt


#6 Starting to Deal with the rising water problem on the outside of the building

Tree roots and soil build-up blocked off the two breathing blocks on the exterior chancel wall.  Our college gardener, Samson, has now uncovered both of these.  Also, he has cut down trees to open up this area and allow for more air flow to the building.  He has also started to dig a trench to get down to the stone base of the building.  More on this in post #8.

two breathing blocks were found that had been covered over
the beginning of the trench
roots were growing into the brick and breaking it up

#5. Adding the second coat of plaster in the chancel higher wall portions and starting the first coat of plaster in the now dried brick bottom three foot section.



Chris is examining the second coat of plaster. Notice this time there is no scoring. Also now he is starting on the three feet section across the bottom. The same technique is being used—wet the bricks first, then edge with bonding liquid before applying the plaster.

  • Chris doing the second coat of plaster
  • Chris doing the first coat now on the bricks across the bottom where dry



notice contrast between first and second coats – scoring on first only