Phil Ackers - 07 May 2019

Wrought Iron & Bronze Balustrade Restoration

Our Fine Arts and Conservation Specialist Lucia Munoz-Barrena shares her most recent restoration work with us.

One of the often unnoticed great treasures of One Great George Street is the 1913 decorative balustrade. Entirely hand made with a wrought iron structure, it is profusely decorated with multiple cast bronze pieces which were all supplied by N.F. Ramsay & Co., the Newcastle upon Tyne lock manufacturer.

They are designed in a beautiful Neoclassical style with geometrical shapes of Greek Doric columns, triglyphs and a top frieze of meander design. The bronze pieces are shaped in floral elements such as bay leaf garlands, acanthus leaves and tendrils in combination with ribbons and flowers.

During the past the balustrade has been covered under several layers of black paint hiding the natural contrast of colours of the different metals.

The last restoration attempted to highlight that combination of dark and golden hue by completely removing the umber natural patina from the several of the cast bronze decorative pieces, and in some cases, oil gilding them, falsifying the original design.

In this current conservation process the purpose is to bring back the original appearance by gently cleaning the bronze and preventing from oxidation with a coat of lacquer, along with a protective repaint of the wrought iron structure.

For security reasons all historic bolts must be replaced by new ones, specially made for the Institution following the old thread size and gauge.

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