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Caring for Historic Buildings at the National Folk Museum, Cregneash 12 March 2007

Work is about to start on the conservation and repair of one of Manx National Heritage’s (MNH) most historic buildings at the very heart of the National Folk Museum in Cregneash. Karran’s Farmstead at the National Folk Museum, Cregneash

Karran’s farmstead exemplifies the traditional building and folk life traditions of the Isle of Man, which have virtually disappeared elsewhere on the Island. The farmstead was acquired in 1943 and was the third property to be added following the creation of Cregneash as the first publicly owned folk museum in the British Isles in 1938. It is historically significant as perhaps the only remaining example of this style of crofting farmstead left in the Island. The buildings still clearly show how an original dwelling was gradually “downgraded” to become an animal shelter.

Karran's Farmstead Being RestoredDespite the original simplicity of the building techniques, using locally quarried stone, unshaped natural wood for the roof timbers and the traditional Manx thatch, the buildings have lasted remarkably well under the careful control of MNH. Finally, however, after over a hundred years, more substantial work is required to carefully restore and, where necessary, strengthen some of the old roof timbers. The thatch will be stripped and then re-laid by MNH’s own experienced team.

Steve Blackford, Head of Properties for Manx National Heritage, said:

“The easiest way to do this would have been to simply strip the roof coverings to expose the structure beneath, but this would also have been the most damaging method. Instead the work has been planned with the utmost care so that the supporting layer of turf under-thatch, or “scraa”, is not disturbed. As usual, Manx National Heritage will follow best conservation practice, in taking great care to ensure that all the original material is preserved wherever possible and the evidence of earlier structures and uses is recorded. This is of particular importance at Cregneash where each building has not only its own individual historic value, but also contributes to the outstanding collective value of this unique area which is internationally renowned as one of the most important folk-museum settings in Europe.”

Karran's Farmstead Being RestoredOnce the repairs to the roof structure are complete, MNH’s own team of thatchers will follow on to completely strip and re-thatch the building using their own locally grown, harvested and bundled wheat thatch roped and netted onto the preserved turf scraa. MNH has temporarily enclosed the building inside a sheeted scaffold In order to allow the repair and thatching team to work safely in all weather prior to the reopening of the main museum for the Easter weekend of 6th April.

Steve Blackford, continued:

“This kind of careful restoration work is so important at the National Folk Museum if we are to properly preserve the true record of this part of Manx life for future generations. But we will of course do everything we can to minimise disruption in the village and apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused while the work is underway”.

The National Folk Museum at Cregneash is apart of the award winning Story of Mann and will reopen to the public on the 6th April 2007.

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