Saturday, 14 August 2021

The Bridge of Terror

This summer, friend of Balintore, Karel memorably named a section of an upper floor corridor "The Bridge of Terror". The floor here is temporary and was built from sterling board on top of lightweight wooden beams. It gives access to a number of rooms in the castle that were previously inaccessible, and so has been incredibly useful. The terror comes from the holes in the sterling board, which allow the tops of scaffolding poles to stick through, so the large drop into the Great Hall below is all too visible.

Visitors are spooked by the sterling board (i.e. will it take their weight?), the visible scaffolding poles (i.e. am I on scaffolding?), and of course the visible drop. The irony is that the temporary flooring is incredibly strong, resting on very solid wooden beams fixed into the building rather than resting on scaffolding, and the holes are only 6" x 6" - far to small to drop through. "Terror" is often all in the mind.

The current phase of work is sealing-up the Great Hall: not only ensuring people don't drop into it but a precursor to the restoration proper of this vast space. This entails installing new beams, floor joists and flooring into the rooms above the Great Hall.

In fact, the Bridge of Terror after 7 or so years of existence, is now no more so I took the before and after photographs recently for this blog article to form an in memoriam.

In fact the "during" picture of the Bridge of Terror is, in my opinion, even more terrifying as although we now have heavyweight floor joists in position, and some insulation, the flooring has still to be completed as finally shown in the "after" picture. The scaffolding is still there in the Great Hall underneath the floor now, providing a platform for Gregor and Glen to work from underneath in safely.

the bridge of terror (before)

the bridge of terror is no more (during)

the bridge of terror is no more (after)

The first of the two bedrooms (RA5 in the 2007 attic floor plans) which requires a total floor rebuild is shown here. You can see in the "before" that the remaining bits of flooring and remaining beams have been totally destroyed by dry rot. In the "during" you can see the new floor joists in position. Netting has been installed to hold underfloor insulation. In the "after" you can see that the flooring has been laid.

The netting has confused the resident pigeon "Flappy" who has been used to just flying through this floor without hinderance. Yesterday evening, Flappy was caught up in the netting, but found a way out easily enough.

bedroom RA5 (before)

bedroom RA5 (during)

bedroom RA5 (after)

The second of the two bedrooms (RA4 in the 2007 attic floor plans) which requires a total floor rebuild is shown here. You can see in the "before" that there is little there at all - just some lightweight temporary beams on the bottom left. In the "during" you can see the new floor joists and some new flooring. In fact, it's almost hard to appreciate that this is one and the same space. In the "after" the flooring has been completed.

bedroom RA4 (before)

bedroom RA4 (during)

bedroom RA4 (after)

The completed flooring on the Bridge of Terror, RA4 and RA5 results in a major claim of territory, even if not quite the "Alaska Purchase". :-) Of late, I have been thinking about what really satisfies me the most about restoration, and it is exactly this - the reclaiming of space where there was nothing there beforehand. I have been quite envious of Gregor's and Glen's endeavours. The worst part is that I am paying them to do what I would most enjoy myself. However, in such a large restoration exigencies of timescale dominate. 


  1. Exit the bridge of terror... another adventure gone.... ;-)

  2. I really need to see Balintore one more time before I stop long haul travel. Covid allowing. Love how it's coming back to life. Well done, David.

    1. Thanks Julie, it would be great to see you again.

  3. When I purchased my 1894 house, the flooring and floor joists in the Servant's Hall were missing. One stood in the kitchen, and looked straight down to the basement.

    Today, joists are installed, a subfloor, and new maple flooring matching the original.

    While not to the scale of your work, the completed work is most...satisfying. It's like a room appeared from nowhere!

  4. Woaw that's amazing! I'm glad I crossed the Bridge of Terror one last time, love the flooring in the new rooms!

  5. The third pictures of bedrooms RA4 and RA5 did not come through the first time I viewed this post-I do not know whether it's sending issue or my elderly machine. Returning to view your progress again, there they were, and the return to usable space of these desolate aeries is triumphant. "...[A]nd the waste places will be rebuilt."

    1. As newly added pictures you may have needed a browser refresh. I do this with a and then click the circular arrow on the top of the Chrome window.

      I am impressed by your quoting of Isaiah, and that they had restoration in biblical times. :-)