Building with Lime

By Stafford Holmes & Michael Wingate

Review by John Dorrington Ward (September 1999)

I feel that present-day students of building are incredibly lucky to have access to a true textbook on building lime. When I studied building surveying at the South Bank Polytechnic the shelves had much about cement and concrete, but never did I see anything on lime. I would like to think that if I had seen a book entitled Building with Lime that I would have looked at it irrespective of whether my tutors knew about lime or not. Building with Lime should be on every library shelf where the art of building is taught whether it be brick-laying, plastering, architecture, surveying, engineering or estate management.

Those in the Building Limes Forum and Intermediate Technology who have met Stafford Holmes and Michael Wingate will know of their passion and commitment to the subject and of their practical experience and knowledge of building limes. They are practisingarchitects who, in addition to numerous other commitments such as consultancy and committee work, have found time to write the first modern textbook on building lime. This is no mean feat. Given the ferment of newfound knowledge and conflicting views among practitioners today, it is also a courageous step.

The strength of this book is that the authors have been strict in achieving their stated goal of “a practical introduction”. The reader can pick this book up and be sure of a sound foundation in building lime. After an introduction to lime including its characteristics, the subsequent chapters follow a clear and logical progression broken down into manageable chunks. The materials, tools and finishes are described followed by internal plastering, external renders and decorative plasterwork. The uses of lime in earth structures, in floors and in road construction are described.

For me the chapter on “Limestone Recognition, Testing and Standards” is a wonderful summary of an otherwise treacherous subject and shows this book at its best. Not everyone wants to read VicatCowper, et.al. in order to understand lime – this book summarises a huge raft of standards and past tendencies in a clear and concise format.

The eleven appendices, which include a proposed classification of building limes and a select list of national standards, represent years of research by the authors. The text is amply illustrated with photographs and clear illustrations and supported by a substantial bibliography and glossary.

The book contributes so much to the aims and objectives of the Building Limes Forum that it must be applauded.

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