In the early hours of Friday 28 May, there was a fire at Gunnersbury Park Cafe. Next door was our Carriages Gallery, containing the 19th-century Rothschild Carriages. Find out how we worked to salvage them.
As a museum, Gunnersbury staff are trained in case of a fire in the museum or an external gallery, and on Friday this training was kicked into action.
The London Fire Brigade played an instrumental part in saving the objects, removing them quickly from the building.
The 5 objects affected were the Rothschild’s Town Chariot c.1830, the Hansom Cab c.1880, the Pony Phaeton c1.870, Werner motorised bicycle c1899 and a penny farthing c.1880.
We quickly sought advice from conservators, and the decision was made to allow the carriages to air dry overnight before being moved to storage.
We worked with a number of partners to help secure the carriages and remove them safely off site including Harwell Restoration and Jamie Briggs Removals. We created a secure, tent-like structure to enable air flow through the carriages but to protect them from direct sunlight, bird droppings, and any other hazards.
We shielded them from sunlight, and used a material called Tyvek to cover any vulnerable areas.
Finally, the carriages and other objects were safely removed to an external safe storage. We are now working with specialist conservators to assess the damage that has occurred and work to stabilise and treat the carriages as quickly as possible.
We hope to see our objects safely returned to Gunnersbury soon!