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 the conservation work is getting on
After the café fire, all five vehicle objects from the adjoining Carriages Gallery were taken to a secure offsite storage facility where their damage could be assessed in depth by a team of specialist conservators. Initial reports came back to us confirming that, remarkably, there appeared to be very limited direct fire and heat damage which was a direct result of the targeted intervention of the first responders who rescued the vehicles from the building. This action has undoubtedly saved the vehicles from total loss.
However, the conservators reported that the surface condition of the vehicles were significantly compromised and required urgent conservation treatment to remove the damaging surface pollutants and to ensure long-term conservation care.
These before and after photos show some of the damage to the Rothschild Town Chariot carriage. The second photograph shows the same section of the carriage after paintwork conservation.
We have been working with Harwell Restoration, and a number of specialist conservators who have worked on treating the five different vehicles over the past few months to return the vehicles to their pre-incident display conditions, and the work is on track to be completed by the end of November 2020. It is anticipated that the objects will remain in storage for the time being until a suitable and appropriate solution can be arranged for them.