Posted: Tue 15th Aug 2023

New partnership eyes sustainable restoration of Chester’s historic City Walls

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Aug 15th, 2023

In a fresh initiative to sustain and maintain Chester’s historic City Walls, Cheshire West and Chester Council is partnering with Chester Cathedral.

The collaboration will leverage the Cathedral’s heritage skills team’s expertise in both stonemasonry and conservation for the City Walls and the Cathedral.

A major highlight of this partnership is the introduction of hot lime mortar, a conservation method that’s challenging to come by these days but renowned for its efficacy in preserving ancient structures.

Notably, this technique has received a nod from Historic England.

City Walls had faced significant wear and tear due to the use of hard cement mortar post-war. This method had the unintended consequence of preventing moisture evaporation from joints, leading to erosion in the soft local sandstone blocks of the walls.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation and the forthcoming solutions, Councillor Karen Shore, Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Highways, shared her insights. “This collaboration,” she said, “will see one team accumulating profound knowledge about the City Wall’s unique construction, its wear and tear, and factors leading to its decline.”

She further added the importance of hot lime work for the walls, emphasizing its suitability for the specific type of sandstone, and also mentioned the advantages of having expertise in close proximity.

Behind the scenes, Chester Cathedral’s Works Department owes its development to the Hamish Ogston Foundation and Cathedral Workship Fellowship.

Ted Comer, the Cathedral Clerk of Works, stated that the collaboration aims not just for restoration but also for training the upcoming generation in heritage skills and stonemasonry techniques. “It’s an ideal training ground for our young members,” said Comer.

The partnership’s broader vision is to create a knowledgeable team that can share insights, skills, and techniques, aiding in Chester’s conservation and potential projects across the county.

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