Painting the bigger picture

It’s not the prettiest site for summer visitors to the historic core of our World Heritage city, but conservation experts have been busy for many weeks now removing modern paint which had been applied to the columns forming one side of the colonnade in historic Bath Street – opposite the Pump Room and Roman Baths.

I have been looking through the details of a planning submission to B&NES – which is in the public realm – and outlines some of the problems the experts have encountered in getting down to the original surfaces.

The street dates from 1791 and contains several Grade 1 listed buildings.

Here’s an extract from a submitted report:

“Following the cleaning process, a number of scrolls have been found to be in a poor overall condition and a section became detached and fell during the works. It is apparent that the scrolls have decayed over time and poor repairshave been carried out to secure cracked/loose sections. Various repairs are therefore required.

A section that has broken to Column 7 will require replacement with new bathstone section of matching design/patter as illustrated by Photos/details 7 & 8 Further scrolls where cracking exists are to be secured by stainless steel pins inserted into the stone and face filled with lime mortar repairs.

In a number of locations physical damage has led to corners of the column bases to become heavily eroded or missing as illustrated in photos 9 and 10 of the supporting documents. Where sections of the column base are missing it is proposed that indent repairs are carried out utilising replacement Bath stone sourced from Hartham Park Quarry as per the attached technical data sheets.

Due to the heavy degradation of a number of columns particularly along Bath Street and historical application of cementitious renders, it is felt necessary for a lime wash or Shelter Coat finish to be applied to provide an acceptable finish.

Both lime wash and Shelter Coat samples were carried out to a column along Bath Street as illustrated in photos 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the supporting documents.

The Shelter Coat generally comprises of two volumes of Cotswold fine dust mixed with Buxton lime putty. When needed casein has been added with water to improve adhesion and durability.

Given the imperfections in the stonework and the inability to remove all cementitious fillers/renders that have been applied in the past it is felt that the Shelter Coat would offer best consistency and durability compared to the lime wash.

The Shelter Coat sample also provides the closest match in terms of colour/appearance to the existing Bath stone.

It is not intended for every column to be finished with a Shelter Coat, only those which are visually in a poor overall state and which would detract from the overall streetscape and Grade I listed status of this and surrounding buildings.”

Looks like they are being very thorough. Can’t wait for repairs to be completed and for the street to be opened up again.