Lady Lever to receive makeover

Clan Contracting has been awarded two contracts as part of a £2.8m scheme to restore part of the historic Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight conservation area, Wirral.

Liverpool-based Clan will manage a series of internal and external renovations, repairs and cleaning works under two contracts, which together have a combined value of £700,000.

The project will see 5,000 sq ft of gallery space transformed. The South End galleries will be returned to their original architectural design and more than 1,500 objects will be redisplayed.

The scheme is funded through donations, corporate sponsorship and major grants, including £1.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Redevelopment works carried out in the 1960s will be undone, reinstating the original features and intended circulation routes of the gallery. Detailed architrave, intricate surrounds and skirting will be re-introduced whilst partitions will be removed to open up the space and improve the circulation. Externally, a full facade cleaning and stone repair programme will help sustain the gallery's long term durability.

Built during 1914-22, the Lady Lever Art Gallery has listed building status therefore requiring sympathetic repairs, using traditional materials and methods in order to maintain the vulnerable stone sections of the building which can be prone to damage.

Clan's treatment of the gallery with Stonehealth's TORC and DOFF cleaning system negates the use of chemicals to revive the building's exterior. The building is also being treated with natural hydraulic lime and Portland stone indents. Owing to its listed building status, fixed scaffolding is not permitted during the restoration, therefore all works are carried out using a cherry picker. Internally, alongside the re-introduction of original features, work includes plaster repairs, paintworks and woodblock floor repairs as well as the design and installation of a new mechanical and electrical system.

Damian Meyers, managing director of Clan Contracting, said: "This is a fantastic building that requires a careful and sensitive approach to safeguard the fabric and external façade. Clan is working closely with the gallery, which will remain open throughout, to ensure minimum disruption.

"Repairs to heritage and listed buildings form a core part of the Clan competency and it's great to be entrusted with making improvements to this very special building. The contract was won as part of a competitive tender bid and we were selected under strict guidelines and principles."

The Lady Lever Art Gallery houses one of the UK's best collections of fine and decorative art. The improvements form part of an extensive programme of restoration and improvement focused in the South End of the gallery.

Clan works closely with English Heritage and other conservation organisations, having already completed work on the Bluecoat Chambers, Wapping Quays, Mermaid House, National Museums Liverpool's Pilotage building and the Albert Dock Quayside repairs.

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Lady Lever is one of National Museums Liverpool’s gems, and along with the model vilage surrounding it is a real must-see for anyone interested in industrial philanthropy as well as art and culture. Port Sunlight, together, with a revitalised New Brighton, are 2 big reasons to jump on Meresyrail to see what The Wirral has to offer these days!

By Paul Blackburn

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