Hair-raising way to restore walls

Specialist plasterer Lee Richards using horse hair and lime mortar on a historic property in Lancaster
Specialist plasterer Lee Richards using horse hair and lime mortar on a historic property in Lancaster

A stone cottage in Lancaster has been repaired using methods dating back over 400 years.

Specialist plasterer Lee Richards, 47, has been using a traditional mix of lime mortar with horsehair to mend walls at the cottage in the conservation area of St George’s Quay.

The unusual mix was widespread as a plaster before the invention of cement. Mr Richards says cement can create moisture problems because it doesn’t breathe and only lasts around 10 years, so the original mix is making a comeback. Mr Richards, who runs LJ Richards Plastering, based in Blackpool, was commissioned by cottage owner, Roberto Raso.

He said: “Any home over 90 years old is likely to have lime mortar and horsehair as its plaster, as it was the 1950s when cement came in. In the last two to three years, I have been getting lots of this type of work. It helps keep the integrity of the building.”

The horsehair, which he buys from North Yorkshire and Devon, acts as a special bind.