Conservation Works Commence!
13 May 2009 was a red letter day at the Grotto: the long-awaited and much-needed conservation works finally got underway, courtesy of funding from English Heritage and Thanet District Council.
Conservators Emma Norris and Emma Carr from St Blaise will be on site for a week for the first stage of Phase One works. They are documenting every inch of the Grotto’s delicate mosaic and recording areas of loss or damage, as well as noting repairs, organic growth and salt migration (which shows as a white powder on the shells and is associated with damp conditions). ‘Tap tests’ of the Grotto – literally, lightly tapping the walls – will pinpoint hollow areas where there are voids.
This meticulous recording process also involves taking photographs and making sketches, which will be worked up into elevation drawings. There will also be off-site analysis of shells and mortar.
This week sees Emma Norris, a specialist in applied decorative surfaces, starting cleaning trials on the shells. Emma has worked on laser cleaning Bath’s famous Roman Baths, so we’re confident that the Grotto’s sooty shells are in safe hands!
The next stage of works has the impulse radar team arriving on site to survey the passages. More news soon.
Emma Carr, left, takes notes while Emma Norris dictates her findings.
The tap test!