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Historical information on buildings and structures

When inspecting an old building, information such as the materials used and the form of construction may not be readily available. In addition, there may be little historical information on aspects such as previous usage, which may influence the structural performance. If the present or previous owner does not have the necessary information, the local public library or local record office may be a useful source.

The Concrete Society has published Technical Report 70, Historical approaches to the design of concrete buildings and structures, which lists the various national Standards available since the 1930s, the specified concrete and steel strengths, allowable materials, design methods etc. 

On the broader front, guidance on a range of sources of historical information is given in Historical research: a guide for civil engineers by Mike Chrimes (details below). He notes that a number of bodies have important collections of archival material, including:

Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Structural Engineers
Royal Institute of British Architects
Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales
English Heritage
Historic Scotland
British Waterways Archive.

The Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers are indexed back to 1836 and are available to members of ICE from the Virtual Library (www.iceknowledge.com). The paper by Chrimes also contains a useful flow chart showing the steps to be taken when undertaking historic research on an existing building or structure.

 
 
Other references:Chrimes, M. Historical research: a guide for civil engineers, Civil Engineering, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Volume 159, Issue 1, February 2006, pp. 4247.
 

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TR70 Historical approaches to the design of concrete buildings and structures