Heritage Cob and Lime
Driving over the Torridge bridge this morning, the brilliant low winter sun glistening on the virginal white cottages, houses and boats far below on the beautiful estuary, I was struck, not for the first time, how lucky I was to live in the beautiful county of North Devon.
Not only was I lucky enough to live here, I also reside in a tiny, traditional lime and cob cottage. A cottage, in which the recipients of my visit had a part to play in its restoration. I just couldn’t wait to meet this industrious team of traditional Artisans.
The family run Heritage Cob and Lime are an Artisan construction company, specialising in all aspects of cob and lime building materials, a specialist craft, which is sadly becoming lost in the mists of time.
Started in their own home, over twenty five years ago by David and Sue Rawle the business has evolved greatly over the years, now being run by their children Sarah and Frank, from a very large unit on the Bideford industrial estate. Heritage Cob & Lime specialise in all aspects of restoration projects, from the smallest – a fireplace – to a collection of four cob cottages in Croyde, South Devon which they are renovating from the ground up. Such is their expertise in this specialist field they are fully booked until Autumn 2020. So, that bread oven, I think I may have buried in my cob wall, will have to wait!
All processes involved in this business are very “hands on” and look to me to be very hard work. I had to admire the delightful Sarah, who greeted me on my arrival. Wiping limewash soaked hands on her jeans proffered me a very firm hand and a beaming smile. The enthusiasum she exuded whilst showing me around, explaining the varying processes had me spellbound. This is one happy, hard working lady.
Products in the making.
Together with their specialist team of crafts persons Heritage Cob and Lime undertake all skills needed in the complete refurbishment of historic, listed buildings. Bespoke mortars and lime washes can be made to order, as well as traditional North Devon Cob blocks. Should you commission the company for your project, you will be able to see your specific requirements being made at their unit. Future employees wishing to join the company are trained to specialise in all the different areas.
Cob is the oldest building material in the world. Eco friendly, it is made from a mixture of subsoil, straw, clay and aggregates in varying amounts, mixed with water, forming a very pliable material. Cob can be laid as mass cob, to be built in stages – lifts, – or as in the video above, can be placed in “Big Bertha”, a formidable looking piece of machinery, which amalgamates the mixture turning it into competitively priced cob blocks, or bricks. These bricks are then left to dry in a very heath Robinson looking, drying room. Being very environmentally aware, the company embraces recycling. Hot air, which is expelled from the lime boiling mixer is diverted by means of a giant pipe into the covered area, which houses the the drying materials.
The giant tub below, of what looks like clotted cream is in fact Lime putty, in the making. After being boiled in the giant vats, the lime is left to slake – think cheese making – resulting in a mature lime putty.
When using cob, which has been coated with lime render, its important to remember, during your final decoration, that this substrate needs to breathe, hence the need for breathable paint. Not the modern plastic paint, most commonly used today. Heritage Lime Cob stock a range of suitable lime slaked and clay paints, in various shades, manufactured by another environmentally aware company Earthborn Clay Paints .
Having finished, your cosy, warm eco friendly Cob cottage all you need now is some individual finishing touches. Well, look no further, Heritage Lime and Cob all stock a most gorgeous range of handmade, glazed, ceramic bricks and tiles. Now, shall I do the bathroom or the kitchen?
It was a pleasure to visit Heritage Cob and Lime and learn about this ancient craft. If you would like to find out more, you will be welcomed by this friendly team of Artisans, they may even make you a cuppa. Would have loved to take off my socks and boots and trampled in that squidgy mixture. Maybe that for another time!
Heritage Cob and Lime Unit 20, Bideford, Industrial Estate, East The Water, Bideford, North Devon EX39 4GD,
Telephone: 01237 477431
Heritage Cob and Lime are kindly making a donation to North Devon Children’s Hospice on behalf of North Devon Does, for writing this blog and the associated photo media. Thank you.