The old hospital and the cell block at the courthouse have joined the post office as the most recent heritage buildings in York to have major work on their roofs.

Over the past five or six years at least eight historically significant buildings have had part or all of their roof replaced. Others include the Gwambygine homestead, York Co-op, Faversham House, the Imperial Hotel and the Masonic Lodge.

For some it is the first time in more than 100 years that the building has had a new roof and an indication of the quality of materials and workmanship in the original. In several cases the replacement of the roof also uncovered things about materials used in previous roofs.

Where buildings were heritage listed the owners had to have conservation plans prepared before  the roof could be repaired or replaced. There were also conditions concerning the materials that could be used and how they were to be fixed on. In all cases the cost of the work was significant and some received grants from the Heritage Council of WA or Lotterywest to help pay for it.

In 2008 Faversham House received a Heritage Council grant of $50,000 towards the $130,000 needed to re-roof the building.

The York Co-operative spent $33,000 including a $20,000 Heritage Council grant in 2011 on new sheeting, gutters and downpipes on part of the roof on its IGA supermarket building. Work on the roof revealed a substantial timber structure including jarrah lining boards and battens but no evidence of shingles ever having been used. Corrugated galvanized iron was used in keeping with the material being replaced.

Restoration of the heritage listed 1836 Gwambygine homestead including a new roof, was finished in December 2010. Insurance paid for replacement of part of the new roof blown off in the storm on January 29, 2011. The homestead has a high pitched roof and verandahs on both sides which were originally clad with grasstree thatch, later replaced with shingles and finally corrugated iron. Some of the original roofing materials are still visible under the corrugated iron.

The fact that the roof battens uncovered during the re-roofing of the post office only had one set of nail holes showed it to be the original roof from 1893. Most of the roof was covered in battens suggesting an intention to use shingles but at some point before the battens were finished a decision was made to use corrugated iron. The roof was replaced not because of rust but because the nails holding the roof were loose. Ten roof sheets blew off in the 2011 storm.

One of the town's most significant heritage buildings, the old hospital built in 1894-95, has a steep gabled roof of sheoak shingle. The recent round of Heritage Council grants included funds to help replace two thirds of the roof. In 2006 a third was replaced and the current work will finish it.

Lindsay McNeill


PHOTOGRAPHS (from top)
Workmen laying shingles on the roof of the cell block at the York courthouse; Gwambygine homestead with the roof fitted in 2010 during major restorations; major restorations including a new roof underway on the York post office; new sheoak shingles on the roof of the old hospital.