Some of you may recall my previous posts about our very odd 1930s house
(back wall subsiding, damp, internal walls made of 2" thick block laid
directly on floorboards, lots of other interesting features). Well,
today we came across a particularly interesting feature which I'd like
to share with you.
To recap, the house is roughly square. As you come in the front door,
which is in the middle of the house wall, you see the stairs. So the
stairs run down the middle of the house, with rooms either side both
downstairs and upstairs.
We're currently working on bedroom no.1, which is the room on the right
as you go up the stairs. We've finished bedroom no.2, which is the one
on the left.
Both of these rooms have walls which form the stair well. But bedroom
no.1 also has the wall which forms the end of the stair well - the wall
which you might bump your head on going up the stairs.
In bedroom no.2, the wall which forms part of the stair well is made of
the lovely 2" black blocks mentioned earlier, laid directly onto the
floor boards. Nothing unusual about that (for this house, at any rate).
But in bedroom no.1, the equivalent wall, and the wall which forms the
end of the stair well are made of T&G, lined on the inside (i.e. inside
the room) with 1/8" hardboard (yes, that's right).
Today's job was to remove these walls. Having removed the hardboard, we
found that the wall which is part of the stair well is lined with
asbestos sheets! Four sheets of 4'x2'x5mm of grey asbestos sheet, very
hard amd brittle.
I thought that was a bit odd, given the age of the house, and given that
it looks like an original feature. I thought asbestos was only used
after the 40s.
But even more interesting - the other wall, the one forming the end of
the stair well - wasn't lined with the same sheets. Instead, it's lined
with 1/2" fibre board (like MDF but very low density).
Why would they do that? Why would anyone go to the trouble of lining one
wall with asbestos sheet, but line the adjacent wall with fibre board
(which is useless when it comes to fire resistance)?