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I began the pressure on Bucks CC in Jul 12 and today we made the first step on what may just be progress. Six men from Bucks came to town today in 2 vans and coned off the obelisk. See the attached picture. They were joined by 2 specialists in conservation, Annie Jones and me.
The BCC team was led by the TFB's Structures Team Leader Mr Len Smith who also has responsibility for the Bridge. The conservation experts were: Karen & Charlie Slade of the Company of Artisans. http://www.companyofartisans.co.uk
Len Smith said that he would seek funding from his general maintenance budget. Depending on the estimated price of restoration being accepted I sensed that there was a good chance of making progress this year. The objective is more to restore than conserve. The stonework of the obelisk has been patched up over the years with cement so we cannot expect it to be restored to an as new status. Its appearance should reflect its alterations over the years whilst being returned to a good condition that can be sustained with regular attention.
The obelisk is constructed of Portland stone topped with some limestone. Repairs in the past were made with cement. The cleaning process, Thermotech, uses hot water to clean the stone. Sandstone absorbs water and draws the dirt but they can deal with that. Portland stone is not absorbent. This means that the end result will have colour variations. The black sulphation will be removed.
When the stone facing has been cleaned and stabilised the spalled faces will be made good with hydrated lime mortar. It will then have a shelter coat of coloured lime based paint. The lettering will then be recut once the facing has hardened. A crack in the stone may need pinning. The whole task is expected to take 4 to 5 weeks.
To enable the work scaffolding will be required and a safety barrier similar to the one today will be required.
I am quietly pleased by today's progress. Of course, much depends on the price tendered by the Company of Artisans and the TFB budget. The vibes from Len Smith led me to believe that he is willing to proceed subject to budgetary constraints. He advised separately that work on the Bridge is scheduled for later this year.