Sunday, 24 May 2009

Wall Braces - Keeping things tight!

Some things are just so familiar that you tend to take them for granted and it's only when something in particular catches your eye that you look a little closer. So it was with this collection of wall brace photographs. I only started to look out for them after noticing an unusually ornate example when on a recent walk around Rotherhithe and although at first I thought I'd only spot loads of fairly boring and plain circles, that wasn't the case. But I have to be a bit cautious here in calling them wall braces because that's what I assume they are - a way of preventing bowing walls or sagging eaves or something. I'd be more than happy if someone in the know posted a comment to correct me and to explain the niceties of the different variations I've spotted.
(note: Thanks to Hausdok who has kindly pointed out that they are not in fact braces but 'bearing plates' which sounds even better. I won't revise this post but will be sure to use the correct terminology in future efforts!)

Bermondsey Wall The one that started me looking so it's only fair that it's first up. I'd guess that plain round plates are the most common and the one that most people would be familiar with but I was taken by the fact that this one had an almost Tudor-Rose design to it
Clapham Common, Old Town There are a surprising number of old buildings still standing in the Old Town part of Clapham, partly due to the efforts of braces like these I suppose. I'd guess that this is the most common form of wall brace, a simple disc with a hole in the middle, through which a screw projects and a nut is attached. Presumably a couple of these is all it takes to pull things together and keep suspect brickwork in place.
Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road The first of two examples from a small workman's cottage built into the perimeter wall this is another example of the simple disc, although the nut looks a little crude and out of proportion
St Lawrence Church, London Road, Morden I suppose this is an example of what could be described as a 'transitional phase' - what with its oval shape and ridges. It's moving away from the simple disc into something slightly more adventurous and heavy-duty Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road This is a good example of a home made plate, a simple rough-cut square (one of two) that look more welded or beaten into place rather than screwed. It's not too big either as you can see by the comparative sizes of the surrounding bricks
The cottage itself is quite small so these braces could be counted as definitely being on the 'domestic' sized. A lot of the rest of the perimeter wall is definitely bowing though, so domestic in scale or not they do seem to do the job. Lavender Hill, Battersea This strikes me as being more utilitarian than even the simple disc. A couple of slats drilled in the centre and a simple nut attached to make a simple cross-brace. Cheap but efficient I'd of thought, even if not too ornate.
Old London Road, Kingston A variation on the cross-brace, I suppose this is a 'double cross-brace on a single horizontal' which might start sounding a little heraldic but it's also interesting to see how the red-brick coving has been removed to accommodate it
Old Town, Clapham The 'fancy-dan' of the wall brace world, the 'S' brace looks good and covers a number of courses of bricks. The ones I've noticed invariably seem to be painted in brighter colours to draw attention to themselves rather than being painted black in the hopes that they'd blend in so I think we can see the S brace as being as much ornamental as functional. That was at the front, but they are just as prominent at the rear.Lavender Hill, Battersea Of course there's ornate and there's ornate... In effect I suppose this is a combination of two 'S' braces and a central disc but the overall effect is very pleasing. Pity about the later pipework though.St Lawrence Church, London Road, Morden One of two spanning a Gothic-arched window, I liked this one for its Catherine-wheel shape and obviously home made qualities. It certainly does the job though...

20 comments:

Hausdok said...

Hi,

Those are not "braces" they are bearing plates on the ends of through bolts.

Through bolts extend completely through the thickness of the masonry and are composed of a threaded rod or bar with a bearing plate located on the surface opposite the attachment.

Through bolts were used in loadbearing masonry structures to tie floor and wall systems together. Since the bolts were visible on the exterior, it was often the case that decorative cast bearing plates were used on the exterior masonry surfaces.

Today, through bolts are primarily used in industrial construction where aesthetics are not a principal concern, or in retrofitting existing structures.

Source: Brick Industry Association

Mike O'Handley, LHI
Your Inspector LLC.
Kenmore, Washington
Editor - The Inspector's Journal

D J King said...

http://www.stainless-uk.co.uk/product.asp?id=4

I have just been on a construction safety course and was told they were technically called Pattress Plates. I found your site trying to find out out how Pattress was spelt for my notes.

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