Family Names

Saturday, 5 January 2013

A closer look at Westcott

While visiting Westcott (see previous post for more details) we were shown an aerial photo that had been taken years before the current owners took possession, many of these buildings no longer exist.

Note the main house has no small portico over the front door as it does now.  The house and the "renovated shed" which was more like a garage had traditional English cob walls.
English cob is not something that I'd ever seen in Australia, it is made by mixing the clay-based subsoil with sand, straw and water. The earthen mixture is then ladled onto a stone foundation in courses and trodden down into the wall by workers in a process known as cobbing. I understand the construction progresses according to the time required for the prior course to dry. After drying, the walls would be trimmed and the next course built, with lintels for later openings such as doors and windows being placed as the wall takes shape.  The type of building has a long life span even in rainy climates, provided a tall foundation and large roof overhang are present.
Sandra being showed the newly renovated cobb wall of the shed
The top part of the cob wall which stands on a brick section of wall is covered on one side with weather boards for protection from the weather.
The exterior of the main house at Lower Westcott
Although it is hard to appreciate from the photos the walls are very thick (about 24”), so the small window is correspondingly deep-set giving a sunk back appearance.  Cob walls form great insulation from the changing outside temperature
As you can probably tell I really enjoyed hearing and seeing all this detail, it's amazing to think that I was walking on ground that both my fifth grandfather as a farmer and his wife plus my fourth great father as a child would have walked.
In my next post I will show you what I saw on the inside of the house, particularly the things that point back to the past!!  If only the walls could talk!

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