Bryce Barker of JBM Group discusses the joys and challenges of restoring Pentridge history
For Bryce Barker, construction manager at JBM Group, working on Pentridge’s restoration projects has been a one-of-a-kind working experience. The 1800’s architecture is something rarely seen around Melbourne and the opportunity to work with traditional building methods has been both a challenging and exciting experience for his team.
‘I GUESS EVERYONE AROUND MELBOURNE WANTS TO KNOW WHAT’S BEHIND THE BLUESTONE WALLS, AND ONCE [WAS] INSIDE I WAS CAPTIVATED BY THE UNBELIEVABLE CRAFTSMANSHIP THAT WAS USED HERE TO BUILD PENTRIDGE, AND STILL AM EVERY DAY.’
JBM Group is a family-owned building and trade company with almost 40 years of combined experiences across a broad range of backgrounds. From domestic and educational spaces to commercial projects, JBM Group boasts a strong workforce of highly skilled professionals.
Having recently completed a restoration project on the A Division and H Division roof areas, Bryce reflected on his involvement in the project so far, noting that even with a broad range of expertise in their team, Pentridge’s restoration projects have been quite challenging.
‘THE MOST CHALLENGING DETAIL OF THIS [PROJECT] WOULD MOST DEFINITELY BE THE MISSING WEATHERVANE, THERE ARE NO PHOTO OF THE ORIGINAL, ONLY A DISTANT SILHOUETTE. THIS TOOK MANY, MANY HOURS OF WORK TO RECREATE’
JBM Group successfully restored the surrounding roofing and entire light tower and weathervane accurately to historical records. The work can now be admired from passersby.
In fact, Bryce and the JBM Group sourced specialist makers for several components of the restoration project, ensuring the work was completed with traditional materials and methods – accurate to how original artisans would have constructed the building’s flourishes dating back to the 1800’s.
‘WE HAD TO RECREATE SOME AMAZING CAST IRON GUTTERS WHICH HAVE LION HEADS CAST INTO THEM (WE FOUND A COMPANY IN A SMALL COUNTRY TOWN ABLE TO TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE, WE ALSO HAD TO SOURCE CAST IRON DOWN PIPES TO MATCH EXISTING, WHICH FINALLY ARRIVED ON A SHIP THE SAME WAY THE ORIGINAL ONES WOULD HAVE 150 YEARS AGO.’
JBM Group has been dedicated to ensuring the restoration work aligns with the Shayher Group Heritage Conservation Plan. The professionalism and success of the work to date has been a credit to their attention to detail and respect for the site’s history.
The team will now begin work on the restoration of six guard towers and the historic rock breaking yards. With Bryce’s enthusiasm and the team’s expertise, the history and future of Pentridge is in safe hands.
‘I THINK THE PUBLIC ARE REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING THE FINISHED PRODUCT INCLUDING THE NEW ADDITIONS AND HOW THEY HAVE BEEN INTEGRATED INTO THE OLD, I HOPE THEY CAN APPRECIATE ALL THE HARD WORK THAT HAS BEEN PUT INTO BRINGING THIS BEAUTIFUL OLD BUILDING BACK TO LIFE.
We have given everything to this project that it deserves, it is part of Melbourne’s history and think our company motto speaks for its self – JBM Group, Built to Last’