Repair and Conservation of Historic Concrete, Building Conservation Masterclasses at West Dean College

Back in sunnier months, practice director Dearbhail Keating was back at West Dean College of Arts, Design, Crafts and Conservation to gain insight into Repair and Conservation of Historic Concrete.

Conservation of concrete is becoming more and more relevant as the buildings of the past 150 years are celebrated. Here at JCA concrete conservation is very relevant – did you know that a lot of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is in fact concrete construction?

The course involved four days of intensive learning and practical sessions led by course leader Catherine Croft along with several other concrete experts. History of concrete production was studied, and we were fortunate to visit several buildings local to Chichester where the different methods could be more closely studied.

Of particular interest is Chichester Bus Depot which was constructed between 1956 & 1957. This building has a huge concrete roof with a curved corrugated profile. To think it was constructed a year before concrete pumps were invented is quite phenomenal.


Engineering challenges and inherent defects of concrete were also explored with the opportunity to undertake in situ repairs to various forms of concrete. We matched mixes for patch repairs, experimenting with various finishes.  Cleaning of concrete was also explored as well as methods for bringing out textures and colours within the aggregate.

A key reason for concrete failure is corrosion to embedded metal. Gaining knowledge on why this happens and methods of repair and prevention were fascinating and certainly something we can take forward and employ as we continue to work to preserve and repair our concrete buildings.