The waters having subsided, attention turned to external restoration. We were assisted by professional roofers who replaced slates, repaired the roof vents and dormers, and made the building weatherproof.
The work party focussed on stripping and renovating the cast iron guttering and downpipes and cleaning and repairing the external walls. Scraping layers of paint from the woodwork became a tedious chore, whereas painting seemed a relative pleasure.
By late summer 2000 work on the internal restoration was under way. This required erection of a large scaffold to give access to replace rotten ceiling beams and the inevitable rubbing down and painting of the woodwork. As the piece de resistance, the Friends' logo was fixed on the central high point of the ceiling.
A major task was to fashion a large observation window between the main room and the windowless cubicle which houses the pump engine. As usual the wall was much more substantial than anticipated. The main room contained much decrepit paraphernalia which was gradually cleared.
The immovable concrete plinths were fashioned into seating and tables by some expert joinery. The main room contained much decrepit paraphernalia which was gradually cleared and the immovable concrete plinths were fashioned into seating and tables by some expert joinery.The floor was cleaned and sealed. At this stage our engineering aficionados were trying to get to grips with the pump engine itself which was in a sorry state -although its condition was not terminal. The machinery was cleaned and investigated, but despite our best efforts it failed to start. Suffice to say that the engine seemed to have a mind of its own requiring intimate attention to its idiosyncrasies - fuel requirements (a little petrol to start, then paraffin), the starting handle, the direction of starting rotation, the magneto drive mechanism and fuel feed. These problems were only fully solved recently to allow reliable running
By the spring of 2001, most of the restoration of the fabric was complete. Nine co-ordinated information panels were produced with much help from the National Park graphic designers, each panel headed by an original pen and ink drawing commissioned by the Friends from local artist Jean Pugh.
Exhaustive research on the pump house and St Bride's estate by Dorothy Willcock formed the factual basis for the display panels.
Electricity was supplied through a solar-powered battery to provide illumination for the information panels and the underground reservoir. It only remained for the garden team to fashion a low-maintenance garden and lay patio slabs to the front of the pump house. The Friends were delighted when the restored pump house was officially opened by Gordon Cawood, chairman of the Pembrokeshire National Park committee, in the presence of sponsors, guests and friends. Appropriately the opening date corresponded almost exactly with the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Friends. Fortunately the pump engine relented by bursting into action briefly to provide the appropriate acoustic background for this happy occasion.
The event was nevertheless tinged with sadness by the news of the death of Bob Powell that very day. Bob's memory lives on at the pump house through an inscribed bench overlooking the garden and St Bride's Haven. His inspiration was carried forward by Brian Meopham who acted as "clerk of works' to the volunteers who put in over 1,200 hours on site.
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