13th February 2020

Time reveals increasing challenges for Big Ben restoration work

As a company with a 114+ year history, we have worked on our fair share of unique, yet challenging, restoration projects all over the UK. One very public restoration project ongoing at the moment is the work on Big Ben, known all over the world as an iconic London landmark. Although Taylor and Fraser is not involved in this project, we are familiar with the unique challenges brought to light during the work on the tower, which holds a great deal of history and repute.

It has recently been reported that an extra £18m funding has been requested for the restoration project, taking it to a total of £79m. This increase is due to the discovery of asbestos in the belfry, broken glass in the clock, use of toxic lead paint, and other extensive Second World War bomb damage that has now been uncovered in the Elizabeth Tower. The true scale of the work only became clear when the renovation team started the ‘intrusive surveys’ on the tower. This finding, which was not apparent during the initial stages of the project in 2017, rings true to many historic restoration projects.

Throughout our own history, we have uncovered many unexpected issues when working on projects like such. One of which was during our work on New Cumnock Town Hall. The derelict and dilapidated Grade B listed building, built in 1888, required a sensitive approach to work. It was in need of careful demolition of ad-hoc extensions and major external and internal work. During the early stages of the project, Taylor and Fraser uncovered that the west gable was in danger of collapsing. After a thorough review, we carried out a major stabilisation exercise to allow for the installation of DPM and waterproofing measures. The full exterior of the building was successfully conserved and restored including the infilling of redundant openings using traditional stone. The £1.57m project returned the building to its original state whilst incorporating measures to ensure it is durable for long-term future use. You can view a selection of images from this project below.

Although the uncovered challenges cannot always be determined from the outset, the way in which they are managed can ultimately make or break the success of the work. As experienced specialists in restoration work on historic buildings, we know exactly how to handle these issues whilst ensuring the highest levels of care and respect for the building through to completion. We understand the unique needs of these buildings and adopt a strict conservation approach whilst integrating modern services into the fabric of historic buildings to ensure durability for decades to come.

Find out more about our restoration work here.

Back to Top