Courtyard Development for Swinithwaite Hall (Scheduled monument)

This innovative design used local beech as the main structural component. S&CC Ltd were able to use their expertise on British hardwoods to advise on the properties of beech. The timber cures more rapidly than oak, but is relatively stable if stresses are relieved as it dries. Since beech is not durable, its use was combined with external oak posts and weathering strips.

The Black Barn, Heather Thatch

The heather-thatched  Black Barn in Northumberland is the only original ling clad roof barn in England. Working alongside Spencer & Dower, Structural and Civil Consultants repaired the structural crucks in the original timber members. 

Award Winning: Learn More

Published in Historic Buildings

Proactive Measures

b16-03Northern England and areas of high ground in particular are experiencing extraordinary rainfall with intensities around 75mm in 15 minutes. The Practice therefore considers effects far beyond the current codes of practice where streams 150mm deep can turn into rivers 3.5m deep as indicated above.

During floods, Engineers with practical leadership can mobilise homeowners to take proactive measures. In 2000, several houses in Northallerton were saved from surface flooding by getting neighbourhoods to create dams to keep torrents flowing around buildings using turf, filled bin liners and even mattresses.

Published in Flood Damage

Oak Frame Building

















Oak frames can be used to provide some of the structural stability using knee bracing, in a similar manner to steel portal frames.  Moreover, bracing has also been found to improve the aesthetics. However bracing can complicateconstruction and the joints can be ineffective, unless correctly detailed. Great care is required when working with green oak to consider how major shrinkage of the timber will affect the building after a few years.


Eaves Connection. Note that the critical structural joint is moved inboard clear of decay from the key leak zone. 





  Pre-construction of key joints.



Askham Bar Terminal, York

This exceptional landmark building forms the central hub for a major new transport interchange in York. Indeed Askham Bar is already being studied by students for its innovative design.

The most exciting aspect of the project is the integration of engineering and architectural design to create a prominent state-of-the-art, negative-carbon structure. The main element in the construction was timber, which presents novel challenges for engineers.

Less obvious innovation in the civil engineering design was needed because green timber was used, rather than laminated members. The engineers also had to devise a solution for supporting the substantial weights of 250mm deep chunky green timber.

The superstructure was also designed to have a low-carbon footprint at the point of construction. The main structural components of British Douglas fir were designed to maximise the mass of sequestered carbon and to minimise the carbon footprint. Moreover, the design had to overcome the challenges associated with a landfill site above 10m of domestic refuse and the attendant risk of methane emissions this produced.

The new interchange offers substantial park and ride facilities with up to 1000 spaces. The hub itself is carefully designed for the comfort of users, with a rain- protected area to board buses, an internal waiting hall, a security control centre and meeting room facilities. The site design also anticipates any future additions such as wind turbines and generators, with the robust design intended to prevent the need for a new piled base each time a new turbine and tower are needed in future.

This project expanded on the expertise we acquired when working on the Sunderland Transport Interchange, which has subsqeuntly demonstrated the fitness for purpose and longevity of timber as a primary material. 

Askham Bar recieved a certification of 'very good' from BREEAM, the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. 


Award Winning-I. ICE, Smeaton Award 2015 - Certificate Of Excellence

Swinnithwaite Hall Conversion
















The Swinithwaite Hall conversion designed by Christopher Hodges was remarkable for its effective use of a local British hardwood, beech, as a main structural component. It is one of the very few buildings in recent times to have embraced this pre-industrial method to promote greater sustainability in construction.


The timber used in the Swinithwaite Courtyard was locally felled, sawn on site with a mobile bench, air-dried and greened for external use. Moreover the design engineered treatment to release stresses, required no complex digital analysis and therefore required minimal engineering.


The conversion of the Swinithwaite Hall and courtyard presents a proactive approach to carbon offsetting through seeking out historical solutions to distinctly modern problems. Altogether the structure has sequestered 7.3 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. More information on how local Hardwoods can be brokered and used to enable carbon offsetting is available to read on the website of our sister company