January 2016 was a long, dark, stormy month at Cylinders with flooding and some of the highest winds we have experienced. The last few days were worst of all, and something like a whirlwind must have hit the site during the night of January 31st because it left behind it uprooted trees, trees snapped in two, trees split as if by lightening, and branches that had whirled around the site like so many twigs.
Now that the worst of the storms and flooding have receded we can begin to make an accurate assessment of the extent of the damage to the Merz Barn and the rest of the Cylinders Estate.
Although the site and buildings have sustained considerable damage, our sympathy and support also goes out to the communities and businesses in Grasmere, and Ullswater which have suffered far worse damage. The Armitt Museum, our neighbours in Ambleside, have also been flooded. We hope that they all make a good recovery and get back on their feet again shortly.
We were also greatly heartened by the visit of the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who flew up last Thursday to visit the worst of the flood-hit communities in Grasmere and elsewhere in the North. The Government has promised help, and the PM pin-pointed the importance of providing support for badly affected cultural and heritage venues in the Lakes as being vital to the region’s economic recovery.
The buildings too suffered serious damage. All the windows in the Merz Barn were broken by flying branches, and once the skylight went there was flooding inside the Barn. The Cake Room was also badly flooded, and the back wall, which is built of breeze blocks and we knew would need rebuilding eventually, began to collapse when a spring opened up in the slope behind it. Blocks have begun to pop out, leaving us with a serious situation.
The Shippon Gallery roof and guttering have also been damaged
As you can see from the photos, the Merz Barn has suffered considerable damage, and we are only now getting to see the extent of this. We are working with out architectural consultant Andrew Shepherd and other experts (engineering/drainage etc.) to see what can be done. A full report will be created next week, and we are meeting with outrlocal MP and good supporter Tim Farron on Monday 8th February to discuss what else can be done to find support for the clean-up and urgent repairs. We will keep you updated.