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23Aug91 UK: RISING FROM THE ASHES - JOHN LELLIOTT MANAGEMENT OVERSEES REBUILDING OF UPPARK HOUSE, WEST SUSSEX. (2 OF 2)

Many different types of crafts were required on the site, and Lelliott spent hours trawling Britain and even Europe for the expertise required at the right price. Many operations were required - be it tying surviving cornices together with piano wire or protecting large areas of the lower parts of the structure which survived. In all 20 miles of scaffolding secured the house, through which massive 1.5 tonne oak beams had to be threaded into place for the roof. Decorative modillions had to be hand carved in laminated oak as it was cheaper than using machinery.'Many aspects of the work so far have been challenging for us,' said Mr Madden, 'but the most difficult is still to come.'Mr Madden refers to the interior work - plastering, flooring, decoration etc, which will restore Uppark to what it used to be.Inside the building webbing straps hold together the new beams to ensure the loads applied cause no unexpected movement, and all round the new brickwork stands in contrast to the old.A de-humidifier works constantly in the building as Mr Prideaux explains:'The building got very wet, both during the fire and when the temporary roof fell down,' he said. 'We are using green oak in the building because we cannot get the quantity of old oak in the time required, so this all has to dry.'Architect Daryl Fowler of The Conservation Practice has to balance the need to restore the building with the problems of protecting it against fire. And this issue has caused some difficulties with Chichester Council which views Uppark as a new building.'The fire spread through the building in voids between the room walls and the external walls,' said Mr Fowler. 'These will still be in the building, but will be fire stopped. Therefore the voids will not connect throughout Uppark House. This will not be visible, therefore the house will stay the same.'Mr Prideaux talked further about fire protection.'One thing we do not want is sprinklers because they tend to go off every now and then,' he said. 'But we have state of the art fire detection equipment. We have managed to convince the local authority that we want to maintain the character of the building without putting a series of partitions up. By venting and other precautions our measures are now sufficient.'Whether this means that the rules have been bent for Uppark is not wholly clear, but Mr Prideaux did point out that all local authorities did have the power to give dispensation for special cases.Uppark House, from the outside, now looks much as it did the day before the fire. Inside there are years of work to do, and the building will not be finished until 1994.Then it will stand and dry out, settle and be furnished ready for a 1995 opening to coincide with the National Trust's centenary.'It's not how we expected to celebrate 100 years,' said Mr Prideaux, 'but we may as well get something good out of this awful event.'