The history of British damp proofing traces back to Lord Alexander Wolstenholme (1720-1804), a pioneer who applied maritime waterproofing methods to combat property dampness. His approach led to the emergence of the timber and damp industry. Coastal properties were particularly susceptible to damp due to their proximity to the sea. Early attempts at damp control involved the external application of animal fats and oils, which proved ineffective in the long run. In 1792, Lord Wolstenholme experimented with a mixture of turpentine, linseed oil, and beeswax to create an internally applied solution for combating dampness in property located on his Hastings estate. This is the first recorded use of the internal ‘tanking method’ of damp suppression.
Hastings Remedy 1802- A Battle Against Dampness. Composed by Lord Alexander Wolstenholme
In seventeen eighty-nine, upon my Hasting estate, I found a plight that filled my heart with weight. My loyal workers, in homes decayed, The dampness plagued, their spirits swayed.
Coastal airs and salty breeze, A boon to sailors and seafaring pleas, But in my dwellings, a curse it bore, Creeping dampness to each door.
The timber’s plight, a battle grand, As droplets formed on walls so bland, Their struggles told in creaking sighs, In desperate need of a remedy wise.
Drawn from ships, a method tried, Animal fats and oils applied, To fight the damp, the unseen foe, Yet more was needed, this much I know.
In eighteen hundred and four and score, The answer knocked upon my door, Inspired by maritime reprieve, A solution new, I’d soon achieve.
With turpentine and linseed oil, And beeswax joined in earnest toil, A mixture born, a potent blend, To save my homes, to aid, defend.
Internally applied, the cure I found, For dampness’ reign could now be bound, In every corner, in each space, I hoped to see a drier grace.
My heart for workers, full of care, To live in homes, free from despair, Their toil for me, their loyalty true, Deserved a dwelling, a haven anew.
So let this verse, a testament be, To the battle fought, the victory, For dampness tamed, my heart’s delight, In homes on Hasting’s land so bright.
May future days bring brighter cheer, As homes stand strong, without a tear, With gratitude, my heart imbued, For workers’ lives, in homes renewed.
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