This year marks the 85th annual conference for the PCA, and this time around the event was hosted in the beautiful city of Cambridge, at The Møller Centre.
The conference kicked off on the Monday evening with a lovely pre conference dinner at the Møller centre which was a lovely opportunity to catch up with some of our friends and heroes of the the dampproofing industry. It’s always a pleasure to see so many of our incredibly knowledgeable customers and competitors in the one place and a great chance to exchange ideas (and gossip) washed down with a few beers : )… not too many mind, as PAM had a manufacturer’s stand to set up at 7am the next morning!
This year’s event saw the inclusion of no less than FOUR guest speakers. These are (in no particular order)
Prof. Max Wade – Technical Director (Ecology) at AECOM
Max is an ecological professional with decades of experience. Max specialises in the environmental protection of various species (and their habitats) and ecosystems.
You may have seen an increase in the media recently about the problems cause by invasive, non-native plant species such as Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed (in fact the PCA have a very informative set of articles on these issue available here).
Max has been working with the PCA to develop an approach to dealing with these triffids-in-waiting, including the development of a qualification for invasive weed surveyors and technicians. It was also a chance for us at PAM to nip out for a quick brew.
Peter is Director of the Wood Studio Forest Products Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University, focussing on the creative use of locally grown timber in architecture, and structures.
Peter is an incredibly interesting chap with en engaging narrative style. He is looking at ways to use British trees and resources within the British building industry rather than importing from abroad, which has a high cost, in terms of both finance and environmental impact of transporting materials.
Peter also talked about sustainable building. One cited example was that a timber building from one of the country’s national parks was built using timber FROM the national park so that in the future if anything had to be replaced or repaired it could be done using timber from the forest.
Brian Ridout – Ridout Associates
Brian is well known in the industry & works with a team of independent consultants who specialise in the scientific assessment of timber decay & other damp-related issues in historic buildings and other important structures.
Brian gave us a fascinating insight into the history and recognition of dry rot over the last 200 years. It’s always nice to listen to someone speak about a subject with as much knowledge and enthusiasm as Brian does. Word went around that Brian’s talk would be quite controversial and not go down well within the preservation industry. In fact the opposite was true – certainly in PAM’s opinion – and it was the opinion of the majority of delegates I managed to speak to afterwards. Brian is strongly opposed to the excessive use of chemicals in treating dry rot particuarly of irrigating/flooding walls with a biocide (as are we). He mentioned it was impossible to get a contractor who would’nt irrigate walls in the treatment of dry rot ? strangely 90% of the audience said they would do it without irrigation….. not sure where Brian goes looking for his preservation contractors but it certainly isnt the Property Care Association.
His “not so controversial” views were only the same as those taught by PAM for the last 6 yrs or so. That said, I’m not so sure about his arguments that airflow and airbricks had no significance in the treatment of dry rot….. something I for one would like to discuss further with him.
Aside from one or two members of the audience though, Brian’s talk on remedial action against rots went down very well .
Dr Dirk Lukowksy
Dirk works at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research (WKI) in Brunswick, specialising in failure analysis and wood protection. He is the author of PRACTICAL, PROVEN METHODS FOR WOOD FAILURE ANALYSIS (details here).
Dirk’s talk was nothing short of illuminating. He detailed many easy methods of testing wood using a microscope but perhaps most surprising was his method of testing by using rubbings to detect imperfections in wood’s surface.
The conference was closed by Steve Hodgson, CEO of the PCA, who talked about the new Apprenticeship scheme that the PCA have developed with the CITB. This is particularly exciting for companies working in the preservation industry, as this will preserve (aptly) the skills and experience our industry needs for years to come.
Finally, there was the Good Practice awards ceremony in the wonderfully salubrious surroundings of Girton College (think the great hall in the Harry Potter films and your almost there). The food and wine were wonderful (although there was a distinct lack of “BAR”) and we were treated to the wonderful comedian Dominic Holland (whose son Tom Holland has just landed the role of Spiderman in the new Marvel comics film no less) as our after dinner speaker. Oh, and there was even some young Dumbledore-esque wizard doing card tricks around the tables to entertain us.
It was great to see so many of PAM’s customers and friends in the industry getting the recognition they deserved for their hard work. These included James of Trace Basements (who won the Project of the year award, sponsored by our good selves and handed over by Paul), our great mates Brian, Russ, Tim (and mum) of Dry-Fix, Brick Tie, Guardian, Stonehouse and Katrina Jackson from Brick Tie also got the Employee of the Year award!
Well done to all of you! We’re already looking forward to next year.
Useful Links :
Brick Tie Preservation :
- Twitter : @btpreservation
- Website : btpreservation.co.uk
- Twitter : @dryfixUK
- Website : dryfix.net
- Twitter : @basementcellar
- Website : guardianpreservation.co.uk
- Twitter : @PCAPropertyCare
- Website : property-care.org
Here are some more images from the day, which the PCA have kindly allowed us to share with you.
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