Sally Strachey Historic Conservation in Wells, Somerset, and Cliveden Conservation in Taplow, Berkshire, work on some highly prestigious projects. This summer Lewis Proudfoot, who heads the stone side of the Cliveden business, has been restoring three porches on the west elevation of St Albans Abbey, while Sally Strachey Historic Conservation has worked on the Banqueting House in London, Apsley House and the Bell Tower at the Tower of London.
One thing the two companies have in common is that they use the products of Restorative Techniques, particularly ThermaTech superheated water and VorTech gentle abrasive systems, and poultices.
At St Albans Abbey ThermaTech was used to clean the Totternhoe clunch masonry and carvings, including a bust of Sir Edmund Beckett (later Lord Grimthorpe) who headed the Victorian restoration team that added the porches. There is also Ancaster ashlar and polished Purbeck limestone columns. Cliveden cleaned the columns with Ammonium Carbonate poultices from Restorative Techniques and finished them with linseed oil to restore the lustre.
Sally Strachey also used a mixture of ThermaTech and Ammonium Carbonate poultices for her projects, praising both for the gentle clean that they provide. She says ThermaTech, used carefully, can produce just the level of clean required and avoids overcleaning, although she says getting it right is very much in the hands of the operator.
What both Sally Strachey and Lewis Proudfoot say is the deciding factor in using Restorative Techniques is not so much the products – although they like them – as the service.
Both concede that cleaning is a speciality and appreciate the contribution to projects made by Jamie Fairchild, a Director of Restorative Techniques.
“I think it’s because of Jamie that we use their products,” says Lewis Proudfoot. “Jamie always come to site, always has lots of ideas and their equipment – we hire it as we need it – is reliable.”
Sally Strachey: “Jamie is incredibly helpful. We cover quite a broad sweep and do a lot of survey work ourselves. We will often bring him in at that stage. He has a wonderful understanding of surfaces and how not to overclean. We have used other companies in the past but working with Jamie just suits us at the moment. In conservation it’s very important to develop relationships with the profession.”