Preparations for major restoration of Nelson's Column underway

16 March 2006

People visiting Trafalgar Square over the last few days will have seen hoarding going up around the base of Nelson's Column.  This is in preparation for a major restoration of the monument. 

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said: 'Nelson's Column is an iconic landmark that is recognised around the world. This work is being done to ensure that the unique monument is maintained and preserved for generations to come.'

The statue of Nelson at the top of the column has been cleaned several times, however the whole monument has only undergone restoration on two occasions: in 1968 and in 1986.

Nelson's Column is Grade 1 listed and is normally inspected every two years to assess the condition of the sculpture, the granite column and the bronze. Following recent inspections, restoration work will include: local repairs to the stonework; cleaning back of areas of corrosion and protection of bronze with wax; general cleaning to remove pigeon guano and pigeon proofing of minor areas.

The restoration work itself is due to begin April and is due to finish in July 2006, to coincide with the start of the annual Trafalgar Square summer events programme.

The restoration will be undertaken to cause as little disruption as possible to other activities in the square, which remains open to business as usual, including the café, toilets and lifts. There will be no disruption to traffic.

 

Notes to Editors

  1. Originally conceived by John Nash in 1812, to commemorate Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the Trafalgar Square was not actually started until almost 30 years later to designs by Charles Barry. The foundations for Nelson's Column were laid in 1839 and completed by 1843. The column itself was made of Devonshire granite and designed by William Railton whilst the figure of Nelson was designed by Edmund Hodges Bailey, after a public competition. At the foot of the column is a set of reliefs depicting some of Nelson’s victories. It is purported that, before the statue of Nelson was placed on top of the Corinthian column, fourteen of the stonemasons that had worked on the column held a dinner party at the top.
  2. David Ball Restoration Limited will carry out the restoration work.
  3. Since the Mayor of London took over responsibility for Trafalgar Square it now plays host to a range of free and high profile cultural events throughout the year – recent events hosted in the square include the Russian Winter Festival, Chinese New Year celebrations and London's St Patrick's Day celebrations.

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