Clay lump is a traditional form of construction, using earth with a high clay content,straw,animal dung,chalk/flint etc.
In some areas of the country the name and the form of the material is diferent- cob ,for example is well known as a building materials in the west country, but here in East Anglia, Clay Lump is the term, the mixture formed into blocks and used as a construction material.
Usually this has been used for vernacular buildings, barns, single storey workshops and workers cottages etc.
It is a great way to use what you have locally and a cheap source of building material,even the joints between the blocks of lump are made from
Clay lump buildings have been treated so poorly in the past and few survive without having had extensive patch repairs through the years,often with inclusions of the dreaded cement, breeze block, corregated iron, you name it!
So very often the walls have been cement rendered inside and out, which may hide the damage ,but for sure the problems are just begining under the render!( see the blog entry on cement renders).
Properly understood they can be repaired and brought back to a useful state and can add a great deal to the character of a building, even when lime washed over, the pattern of the blocks and the texture of the earth will to an extent show through.
If the clay lump is to an outside wall, it is best to LIME RENDER over, but with empathy for the subtle contours of the wall which give it the character that can be totally concealed under a modern approach to rendering.
Repairs to collapsed clay blocks and those that have been patched with cement, brick,tin and anything else thrown at it can be made using replacement clay lump blocks using traditional methods,so that the whole can be sound again.
The inclusion of materials other than clay lump can cause weathering and breathability issues,so best to take them out to ensure a consistent material throughout.
Structural issues can be addressed either by a rebuilding of the failed area,or the inclusion of stainless steel rods- the only time we would use other than the clay lump and only as a last resort.
In all this the key is to retain the structure as it is that which forms the character and allows the building to continue on as a useful building- when buildings have no use they become vunerable to demolition and another part of out architectural heritage is gone forever!
The Green Man Building Company LTD specialise in this type of repair and restoration, you will see on our web site a number of such buildings that have been given another lease of life thanks to owners who care about their property and have engaged us to bring out the best and celebrate the structure for what it is.
Our specialist materials are sourced as locally as we can achieve, we use Bulmer Brick and Tile www.bulmerbrickandtile.co.uk , Our lime products are often sourced from : Anglia Lime Company www.anglialime.com .
At times we need to source from futher afield such as Ty-Mawr lime www.lime.org.uk
or Mike Wye and Associates www.mikewye.co.uk
We are always happy to discuss the repair and restoration of period buildings, in particular those with a little quirkyness, those with structural issues and of course, the ones at risk.
We work WITH the building, using our extensive experience to bring out the character of the materials used be it clay lump,clunch , flint, brick or stone, we will work with that which the building presents and the client desires.