An overview of my work placement at William Anelay Ltd.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Remove, repair, replace.

Liverpool Town Hall (High Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, England) 

"An outstanding and complete example of late Georgian decoration" 
~ the authors of the Buildings of England series
(Pollard and Pevsner 2006, 291)

Liverpool’s Georgian Town Hall dates from 1749 and was designed by John Wood the Elder of Bath. Its exterior decorative frieze which can be viewed from the ground depicts emblems of British international trade in Africa including depictions which refer to the trade in slave where Liverpool gained much of its wealth. An extension to the north designed by James Wyatt was added in 1785. Following a fire in 1795 the hall was largely rebuilt and a dome designed by Wyatt was built. Part of the building was damaged in the Liverpool Blitz of 1941; this restored after the end of the Second World War. Further restoration was carried out between 1993 and 1995 (http://liverpoolcityhalls.co.uk/town-hall/about/history-of-the-town-hall/)

Start date: 03 March 2014
Completion date: 14 September 2014
Duration: 28 weeks

The project involved the careful cleaning of the elevations as well as the replacement of some of the deteriorated masonry to bring an important Georgian architectural landmark back to its former glory. The works only included the external envelope of the building and not the interiors. The deterioration on the elevations was due to many factors: expansion and contraction due to freeze and thaw cycles, using an incorrectly formulated repair mortar for repointing, previously incorrectly installed masonry units and moisture trapped behind masonry. All these deterioration factors had left the stone elevations in a bad state. In addition, the whole exterior of the pollutants and staining had covered the original sandy colour with a blackish hue.

Site visit:
On my site visit, I met with Garry Shea, who is the Site Manager of this project. He is also a professional stonemason and knew every sculpture and carving on the elevations and was able to share the different phases of the project as well as the issues that had come up during the works. One of the interesting things about this particular job was that all the repairs were done with stone and the works did not involve any kind of mortar repairs. In turn, this meant that all the deteriorated areas and stones had been marked, measured, the old stone carved out and replaced with a new one. Although the to- do list might not sound that long, the amount of stone replacements on the elevations was quite staggering and quickly gave a very good idea of the huge scope of the project. In addition to the replacement of stones, the elevations needed to be cleaned of staining and pollutants.

This was an interesting project to see as it showed that although the work that had to be done was very much repetitive, it still would take a considerable amount of time due to the careful and honest conservation techniques that will eventually reveal the original colours of the building. 

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