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New roof for former tea rooms

Refurbished roof tiles on Former Tea Rooms at Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.

Monday 29 October 2018

A newly upgraded section of roof on the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Former Tea Rooms was unveiled today, almost 100 years after the building was first officially opened.

The 1919 building’s original Tupper and Co. corrugated roof tiles were showing considerable signs of wear and tear and were no longer watertight.

“The iron tiles make up half of the building’s roof and are very rare. Repairing them is quite specialised,” explained Bronwen Machin, Mayor of Mount Alexander Shire.

A $37,000 grant from Heritage Victoria allowed works to be undertaken by Beechworth-based Greg Owen and his team, who removed, repaired, reinstalled and painted each tile.

“The iron tiles are very thin and soft so they are incredibly fragile and fiddly to repair,” said Mr Owen, owner of Period Building Conservation.

“Over the years every man and his dog had put in extra nails and screws to hold down them down. We ended up soldering each hole individually, which is the traditional method and preferred way of conservation work.

“From what we understand there are only seven recorded roofs in Australia that feature these tiles.

“They were made in the 1850s and imported from England. We believe they were originally used on another building and then placed on the tea rooms when it was built about 100 years ago.”

Mayor Machin thanked the craftspeople for their work and attention to detail.

“It’s slow and painstaking work but they have done a tremendous job on the roof,” said Mayor Machin.

“Thanks also to Heritage Victoria for funding the works and to members of the Castlemaine Highland Pipe Band, who were on hand to entertain the crowd,” she said.

The pipe band has called the former tea rooms home since 1962, and uses the site to store equipment, rehearse and hold functions.

The building was originally constructed at the instigation of the Castlemaine Citizen's Charity Club. During summer it was used as tea rooms and then as a storeroom for the rest of the year. It was locally referred to as the Four Cs building in reference to the Charity Club.

Mayor Machin said the building continues to be a well-used community asset.

“Many groups regularly use the former tea rooms for meetings and events. The rooms have been booked on 170 separate occasions so far this year, which shows its ongoing popularity,” said Cr Machin.

“The building is in a lovely location, nestled in the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens. It’s the perfect time of year to take a stroll around the gardens and enjoy the spring flowers and check out the new roof!” she said.

Image: The newly repaired roof tiles at Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Former Tea Rooms.

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