The Monument

monumentThe Monument, one of the City of London’s most outstanding landmarks and visitor attractions, will close on 30 July for an 18-month programme of improvements and repairs.

The £4.5 million project, funded by the City of London Corporation, will involve the cleaning and repair of the Monument’s stonework and the re-gilding of it’s famous golden orb. A range of new and improved facilities will be created such as a modified gallery “cage”, new lighting and, for people who do not want to climb the 311 stairs to the top, there are plans for live views to be relayed from the gallery to visitors on the ground.

Sir Christopher Wren’s flame-topped Monument to the Great Fire of 1666 is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. Completed in 1677, The Monument stands 202 ft high and is positioned 202 ft from the spot in Pudding Lane on which the Great Fire is believed to have started. Every year, over 100,000 visitors climb the 311 spiral steps to the Monument’s observation gallery to enjoy unique and exhilarating views across the Capital.

Repairs to The Monument have been carried out approximately every hundred years, with work last undertaken in 1888. The Monument is scheduled to re-open to visitors when the restoration work is completed in December 2008.

Pauline Halliday, Chief Commoner and Chairman of the City of London’s City Lands Committee, which is responsible for the Monument, said: “I am delighted that work will soon be underway to protect and enhance this historical landmark for current and future generations of visitors to the City of London”.

The restoration work will be carried out by Cathedral Works Organisation (Chichester) Ltd, which successfully completed the relocation of Temple Bar in 2004 for the City of London Corporation. Hare & Humphreys Ltd will be re-gilding the flaming orb this spring, restoring its brilliant shine with the application of over 30,000 leaves of gold.

monument-londonThe restoration is being filmed and photographed by Harris Digital Productions, who have set up the website www.themonument.info to show work in progress and updated information about the project.

Tower Bridge

Ancient City Trust pays £4million for three-year-long Tower Bridge facelift

  • 22,000 litres of paint will be used on Tower Bridge
  • 44,000 man hours to complete the Tower Bridge job over a three- year period
  • Tower Bridge will retain its traditional blue and white colour dating back to 1894
  • 1,500 tonnes of expendable abrasive will be used to blast Tower Bridge back to its metal framework before repainting
  • 40,000 motorists and pedestrians cross Tower Bridge every day
  • Revolutionary new paint used will last for 25 years with a top – up every 12 years
  • Whole bridge sections will be encapsulated to catch old paintwork as it falls, protecting Thames river life

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An ancient City trust, Bridge House Estates, of which the City of London Corporation is the sole trustee, have started a £4million programme to revitalise Tower Bridge.
Follow the restoration of Tower Bridge on our dedicated website: www.thetowerbridge.info
As one of the world’s most iconic and internationally recognised landmarks, and arguably one of the most ambitious engineering projects of its age, the smart appearance and imposing grandeur of Tower Bridge resonates strongly with national pride.
The primary purpose of this trust was and still is to maintain all five City bridges (London, Tower, Southwark, Blackfriars and Millennium Bridges) at no cost to the taxpayer.
In order to complete the huge task of repainting Tower Bridge, a rolling programme will be implemented by expert industrial painting contractor Pyeroy, who were awarded the City of London contract to repaint the two bridges. The programme will see sections of the bridge, accounting for roughly 25% of the total structure each time, alternately shrouded in scaffolding over the next three years until the bridge is immaculately finished.
This section-by-section approach is essential so as not to disrupt road or river traffic too dramatically during the work. The bridge must be completely encapsulated in order to catch the old paintwork that must be blasted off the metal bridge framework before repainting can commence. The paint debris will be collected on a shelf below the bridge which is vacuumed up daily and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
Tower Bridge has stood over the River Thames in London since 1894 and is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world. It is the bridge of London you tend to see in movies and on advertising literature for London. Tower Bridge is the only bridge on the Thames which can be raised.

  • The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, and his wife, Alexandra of Denmark.
  • Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge, its proximity to the Tower of London gives it its name.
  • It is 60 meters long with towers that rise to a height of 43 meters. Its middle section can be raised to permit large vessels to pass the Tower Bridge. Massive engines raise the bridge sections, which weigh about 1000 tonnes each, in just over a minute.
  • The Bridge used to be raised about 50 times a day, but nowadays it is only raised around 1000 times a year
  • Tower Bridge is still a busy and vital crossing of the Thames: it is crossed by over 40,000 people (motorists and pedestrians) every day

The restoration is being filmed and photographed by Harris Digital Productions, who have set up the website www.thetowerbridge.info to show work in progress and updated information about the project.

Victorian Fountain

St Lawrence Jewry FountainHarris Digital Productions is recording the restoration and rebuilding of the St Lawrence Jewry Memorial Fountain, which has not been seen by the public since the 1970s when it was dismantled into approximately 150 pieces and put into storage. The pieces of the nineteenth century drinking water fountain have now been transported to the specialist stonework and restoration contractor, Cathedral Works Organisation (CWO), which will carry out the work, under the supervision of Freeland Rees Roberts Architects.

A project website has been set up to provide an update on the progress of the works and also act as a City archival record of the works. It will feature pictures and short films of the various stages of the restoration and can be accessed at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/stlawrencefountain

The majority of the conservation and restoration work is expected to be carried out offsite with the rebuilding onsite estimated to take another four months. The anticipated completion date is August 2010 when it will be relocated to the eastern end of Carter Lane Gardens at the south of St Paul’s Cathedral. The St Lawrence Jewry Memorial Fountain is part of Phase 2 of the Carter Lane Quarter Enhancement Project. The aim of these street scene improvement works is to greatly enhance the public realm of the Carter Lane Area and supporting and enhancing the pedestrian environment is key to the area’s future success.

Christine Cohen, Chairman of the Planning and Transportation Committee, City of London Corporation said:

“This is an excellent example of how the City of London Corporation is able to combine heritage with modern initiatives to provide amenities for City workers, residents and visitors. It is a beautiful fountain which will soon be restored to its former glory and be on public display once more.”

It is proposed to re-use a substantial portion of the original fountain stonework and supplement it with new matching carved stone where the original stone has been lost or damaged beyond repair. The original features, a bas relief of Moses striking the Rock and a stone bowl underneath, will be retained. In addition to this, a new modern drinking water fountain is proposed on the opposite side. The project is part of a wider sustainability initiative by the City of London Corporation which involves re-provision of drinking water in the City. The fountain is to be positioned on a new plinth with two steps to match the historical setting of the original fountain by St Lawrence Jewry Church.

The fountain was originally erected in 1866 outside the Church of St Lawrence Jewry near Guildhall as a gift to the City of London from the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association. It was designed by architect John Robinson and the bronze sculpture was carried out by the artist Joseph Durham. It was taken down in the 1970s during the redevelopment of Guildhall.

Temple Bar Gateway

Temple Bar has finally returned to the Square Mile. In the December meeting of the Court of Common Council in 2001, the City of London agreed to fund the return of Temple Bar to the Square Mile. At a cost of just over £3.0m – funded by the City of London along with donations from the Temple Bar Trust and several Livery Companies – the reconstruction of Temple Bar on a site next to St Paul’s Cathedral was completed in November 2004.

Harris Digital Productions filmed the 18 month project, which clocked up over 130 hours of video footage.

 

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You can watch a preview of our forthcoming production on the Temple Bar Gateway website.

Visit www.thetemplebar.info for further details.

Southwark Bridge

We are currently recording the repainting of Southwark Bridge, which is being restored for the City of London, Corporation.

southwark-bridge-london

A three-year rolling programme

  • Southwark Bridge will be returned to its original bright colours of green and yellow
  • 13,000 litres of paint will be used on Southwark Bridge
  • 26,000 man hours to complete the Southwark Bridge job over a four – year period
  • £2.5 million to complete Southwark Bridge facelift
  • 1,000 tonnes of expendable abrasive will be used to blast Southwark Bridge back to its metal framework before repainting
The old coatings have been removed and the Blast Primer applied. This image was taken underneath the South Approach and shows the High Build Aluminium Primer being applied.
The old coatings have been removed and the Blast Primer applied. This image was taken underneath the South Approach and shows the High Build Aluminium Primer being applied.

Southwark Bridge is an arch bridge linking Southwark and the City across the River Thames. It was designed by Ernest George and Basil Mott and opened in 1921.

  • A previous bridge on the site, designed by John Rennie, opened in 1819. This was known as the “Iron Bridge” in comparison to London Bridge, the “Stone Bridge”. It is frequently referenced by Charles Dickens, for example in Little Dorritt and Our Mutual Friend.
  • Below the bridge on the south side are some old steps, which were once used by Thames watermen as a place to moor their boats and wait for customers. Southwark Bridge was built into the steps.
  • The next bridge upstream is the London Millennium Bridge and the next downstream is Cannon Street Railway Bridge.
  • The south end is near the Tate Modern, the Clink Prison Museum and the Financial Times building. The north end is near Cannon Street station

You can follow the restoration of Southwark Bridge on our dedicated website at www.southwarkbridge.co.uk

London’s Tower Bridge is also being restored – you can follow the restoration on our dedicated website at www.thetowerbridge.info

The Beasts

danFor many years, a masterpiece of English Baroque Architecture had languished forgotten and decaying in Central London. This is the Church of St George’s Bloomsbury, designed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor in the early 18th Century.

The tower and steeple of St George’s is one of Hawkmoor’s most inspired dramatic and theatrical designs. It is based on the Roman author Pliny the Elder’s description of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (Bodrum, in Turkey) One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it was famed for its superb sculptures and friezes, fragments of which are now on display in the British Museum, a stone’s throw away from the church.
Like the famed Mausoleum, St George’s spire is adorned with sculpture, but major elements of it were removed in a restoration of the 1870’s. Gigantic Lions and Unicorns originally clung to the four corners of the steeple.

As part of the restoration in 2004-2006, these extraordinary sculptures were recreated and restored to the building by the Cambridge based Architectural Carvers and Stonemasons, Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey Ltd (now Fairhaven and Woods Ltd).

Harris Digital Productions filmed the whole process, from the model making, carving and the 72 stone sections which were assembled around the spire of the church.

 

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The Nursery Industry

Harris Digital Productions is producing a film about the Lea Valley Nursery Industry.

The Lea Valley Nursery Industry

From at least the eighteenth century the lower Lea Valley was noted for its market gardens. Their continued growth during the nineteenth century owed much to a plentiful supply of water from wells, the access by rail for the delivery of the coal they used to heat the greenhouses. By the 1930′s the Lea Valley contained the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world. We look back on the Nursery Industry, from its beginnings in Cheshunt, to its peak in the 1950′s, and the present state of the industry today. The programme features a fascinating collection of old photographs, as well as archive film footage of the Lea Valley Nursery Industry during the 1950′s, which includes an interview with Thomas Rochford, Rochfords, Stevens and Pollards nurseries, the Queen Mother’s visit in 1959, and clay flower pot manufacturer Tuck’s of Waltham Abbey, together with aerial film-footage over the Lea Valley and London’s Covent Garden Market. We also visit two nurseries in the Lea Valley, one that produces 5 million lettuces a year without the use of soil, and a nursery that grows peppers and cucumbers.

Dedicated website: www.theleavalley.co.uk

Did you work for Rochfords, Stevens, Pollards or a nursery in the Lea Valley during the 1950s -60s and would like take part in the programme, please contact John Harris

We are also looking for any old cine film or photographs, which might be of interest.

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