Scholars & Fellows in London

by Hannah Reynolds

In week 5 both the Scholars and Fellows returned to the London area to spend two days at the SPAB HQ on Spital Square. The first day was spent in public speaking training, delivered by Susan Jones. Susan is a speechwriter, author, trainer and consultant with 20 years experience of writing, researching and training speeches at the highest level of Government and politics. The day built on our existing skills to prepare us for our future as ambassadors for the SPAB. We then met with the Education and Training Advisory Committee to talk about the conservation techniques and approaches we had encountered so far, and to present our sketch books.

As the week progressed we parted company with the Fellows to continue our visits. We visited Alan Baxter & Associates LLP (ABA), a multidisciplinary design consultancy. Here we were given a unique insight into the work undertaken in ABA’s three interconnecting specialist departments; Engineering, Urbanism and Conservation, by Alan Baxter and Robert Bowles. We were able to spend some time with 2011 engineer Scholar and ABA employee Borris Bogdanovic, before heading out on site with structural engineer Sam Harland to discuss some of the structural problems and solutions encountered in the conservation and extension of historic buildings in an urban environment.

This week’s penultimate visit was to Plowden and Smith Ltd, specialists in the conservation and restoration of the fine and decorative arts. We were introduced to the diverse range of projects undertaken within the company by Gabriella Smith, Susan Moore and Thomas Palmer. The visit focused on the fascinating and painstaking cleaning of 95 decorative timber panels from a richly decorated Damascus room dating from C.1780.

The week ended with a return to the subject of structural issues associated with historic building conservation when we visited both the Royal Hospital Chelsea and Tower of London with structural engineer, and SPAB Case Worker, Clive Dawson of Hockley and Dawson Consulting Engineers Ltd.

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