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Cumbrian teamwork puts roof on fire-ravaged mansion in record time

Bruno Herdeiro at Scalesceugh Hall & Villas

A record-breaking restoration has seen the roof of Scalesceugh Hall replaced only six months after the building was gutted in a devastating fire.

The stately mansion, near Carlisle, is now watertight with windows also being installed.

The Edwardian building had been in danger of collapsing following September’s blaze, which left only the external walls standing.

The fire caused heartbreak for Scalesceugh Hall & Villas owners Bruno and Dr Anita Herdeiro, and their four young children.

Photo Lazonby Fire Station

Scalesceugh Hall was at the time being restored to complement the community of villas next to the hall, which were untouched by the fire. But the family lost part of their own home and many of their possessions.

After bravely vowing to fight back, the restoration was hampered by two of the worst storms Britain has seen in 50 years – Ciara and Dennis.

Then the outbreak of coronavirus created a new challenge, requiring workers to observe social distancing.

Despite all of this, the building was saved and made watertight in just six months, about a year ahead of what it would have taken if contracts had gone out to tender.

Instead, Bruno is project managing the restoration and assembled a talented team of the area’s finest tradespeople and craftspeople.

He asked them to put rivalries aside and all work together – which they did to stunning effect.

Bruno was full of praise for the team of roofers, builders, joiners, engineers, stonemasons and other specialists.

“This degree of collaboration and support is unheard of in Cumbria,” he said.

“We had four different roofing companies working together, taking a section of the project each. We split up the windows contract into three because there are so many windows in the building.

“We had different teams of joiners and stonemasons.

“And the work has been done in the worst six months imaginable. We had to endure two storms, ice, negative temperatures – and then Coronavirus struck.

“I didn’t lose one single member of my team. Some of them could have gone home on furlough and still had most of their wages paid, but they chose to stay and complete the roof.

“And many of them are self employed and not entitled to government support, so we wanted to keep them on and support them.”

Bruno added: “We can’t discount the natural beauty of the building and location – people want to put their name to it.

“But people were also excited that we were endorsing some lost trades, and we were encouraging a high standard of craftmanship that is unusual these days.”

Restoration is continuing – with social distancing strictly enforced. Work is also due to re-start on the Scalesceugh Spa and Wellness Centre as soon as possible.

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