Marble Restoration at former Palace Hotel popular with Queen Victoria’s guests

Conservators and Icon members Catalin Grigoras and Bogdan Marcu discuss their current marble restoration project at Palace street No 1. Buckingham Gate

23 Mar 2022

 

History

The project is located at Palace Street No.1 just across the road from Buckingham Palace, and it was in its majestic times called the Palace Hotel, opened in 1860, where Queen Victoria's distinguished guests and celebrities used to spend time there.

It is a large building with a stucco front to Buckingham Gate, with a centrally located main entrance. The building appears to have remained in use as a hotel until the outbreak ofthe First World War, after which it has been in office use. The current main entrance in the front facade was installed in the 1920s, when the building became known as Nobel House.

Palace St.1.jpg

 

 

The Project

The Buckingham Gate Entrance was covered in Carrara marble (Bianco / Nero) black and white, distributed in a symmetrical geometric pattern.

The Conservation Status of the marble surface presented deterioration of the stones, cracks, scratches typical for Carrara marble, which is a carbonate material, exposed to environmental agents, salt efflorescence, and biodeterioration/biological attack.

It is a challenging project, a multidisciplinary approach that involves specialists in different heritage domains, restoring a fundamental piece of history trapped in time and revived at its glory period.

Korp Buckingham 4
© Korp Project Management Ltd Cleaning test using ammonium carbonate compresses, in low concentration

 

On the surface of the marble pavement chosen as a sample, as an example for the practical work, after a visual analysis and the elaboration of a methodological plan of works, we began photographic documentation with direct light from halogen lamps, in situ, graphic drawings and measurements. The marble floor subject to study was covered with polyethylene foil and wood planks placed on top.

 

Korp Buckingham 1
© Korp Project Management Ltd Polyethylene foil, wood planks, non-adherent, deposits of dust, cements and sand

 

After the removal of wood planks and polyurethane foil, the area was cleaned with a soft brush removing all non-adherent deposits, showing, this way, salt efflorescence on both marble surfaces, black and white. Also, the surface presented multiple damages as chips, scratches and patina traces.

 

Cleaning Test

For the cleaning test, a smaller area inside the initial cleaning sample was picked up for comparison. Tests have shown that the 5% AC is effective in removing adherent deposits from the floor surface. After removing the adherent deposits from the surface using chemical treatment, a lot of scratches and dents in different areas and different sizes can be observed. All these damages have been measured and prepped for filling, with specific and reversible filler, compatible with the surface.

 

Fillers

The damages on the surface present scratches, chips and dents and were filled with specific and reversible fillers compatible with the stone morphology. 

After filling the damaged areas and preserving those that represent the historical instance, the patina, a light polishing of the surface with Microcrystalline wax was performed.

 

Korp Buckingham 3.jpeg
© Korp Project Management Ltd Light polishing with Microcrystalline wax

 

The effort to restore this marble pavement is necessary for future generations to understand the historical and aesthetic moment created by our predecessors as well as a testament to the development of architecture in the UK.

 

Icon members Catalin Grigoras and Bogdan Marcu work at Korp Project Management Ltd - a modern conservation/restoration company that continues a family tradition of church mural painting since 1837. They are located in Hove, East Sussex providing services in heritage, specialising in Mural Painting restoration and stone restoration.

You can find out more about Korp Project Management at their website www.korpproject.co.uk. You can also follow Korp Project Management on LinkedIn here

 

 

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