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National Maintenance Week. 20 - 27 November 2015

Neil Oliver, St Andrews, Holborn 

Broadcaster, author, historian and archaeologist Neil Oliver is leading this year’s campaign to make people aware of the importance of winter property maintenance. A familiar face from popular programmes including, Coast, The Vikings, A History of Scotland and A History of Ancient Britain, Neil is keenly aware of the changes that the passage of time can make to a building, but he knows that whatever the age or condition of a structure, good, regular maintenance can play a role in its future.

SPAB's annual National Maintenance Week campaign encourages owners of all sorts of buildings (not just ancient ones!) to be aware of the importance of regular care. It's a message that's relevant to home owners and to anyone who cares for a property.

In 2015 the week takes place from November 20 to November 27, just as potential problems caused by wind, rain, frost and winter snow begin to loom.

Neil says. “When I travelled round the country for BBC’s Coast series, the importance of protecting a building against the ravages of the wind and the weather was very apparent. I could see it was a constant battle. Maintenance makes a difference – never put it off!”

SPAB took Neil to the beautifully maintained, Christopher Wren–designed church, St Andrews, Holborn to give him a bird’s-eye view of the tricky nooks and crannies that can cause problems if leaves, twigs, nests and other seasonal debris are left uncleared.
“Even though it’s relatively modern compared to many of the places I’ve visited and written about as part of my work, it’s easy to see how vital it is to make sure it’s maintained.” he said.  “As an archaeologist I’m very familiar with the care challenges faced by significant, historic buildings which don’t conform to a standard pattern. Planned and regular maintenance is vital to ensure that they have a future as well as a past. That message is equally applicable to buildings of all types and all ages.”

He adds: “ ‘Stave off decay by daily care… prop a perilous wall…  mend a leaky roof’  It’s amazing that what SPAB’s founder William Morris wrote nearly 140 years ago is still sound, practical advice. Faulty gutters and blocked drains don't repair themselves - the longer you ignore a problem the more costly and difficult it becomes to put it right, and that’s true if the place you care for is an ancient ruined broch, a medieval church in a village, a Victorian terraced house or a modern apartment in a town or city..”

Our top tips this National Maintenance Week are easy to carry out and could save you a lot of money.

Don't forget National Gutters Day on Friday, 27 November!

On founding the Society back in 1877 one of the clarion calls of William Morris was: “Put protection in place of restoration. Stave off decay by daily care.” That simple message is as vital today as it was 137 years ago.