Grade II* Listed
Sefton Park Palm House is a Grade II* Listed Victorian structure situated in the leafy glades of Sefton Park, two miles from Liverpool City Centre. It was built in 1896, gifted to the city by Henry Yates Thompson and is now managed by Sefton Park Palm House Preservation Trust. The octagonal domed cast iron structure sits on a plinth of polished red granite, which supports eight statues. These statues were designed to illustrate horticulture and exploration and comprise of the figures: Andre Le Notre, Captain James Cook, Mercator, Linnaeus, Darwin, Columbus, Henry the Navigator and John Parkinson (Apothecary to James I).
Aura Monumental were appointed to restore and treat the eight statues, which included four bronze and four marble figures by the French sculptor Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud. Other works were also contracted to be carried out on the statue of ‘Peter Pan’ by the eminent sculptor, Sir George Frampton, which was moved from its original location in the park area to the exterior grounds of the Palm House itself.
The figures had all suffered from the effects of environmental deterioration, including pollution, which had caused the statues to become discoloured. The marble statues were stained green with biological growth and previous failing repairs that needed immediate attention. Original photographs from Liverpool Record Office were used to precisely replicate the hands and fingers of the John Parkinson statue.
The bronze statues were initially cleaned using the ThermaTech cleaning system and then waxed with microcrystalline paste wax using a propane gas torch to gently heat up the bronze and purge any moisture from the substrate. Some minor patination works were required to restore the statues as close as possible to the original appearance, taking care to preserve original and stable patina.
The marble statues were cleaned using a sympathetic treatment; a mixture of deionised water, white spirit and Synperonic A7, a non-ionic detergent. Biocide treatments were also applied to kill the biological growth and also diminish its regrowth.
The repairs to the hands of John Parkinson were undertaken by removing the previous failed repairs and by using photographs sourced from the record office, modelling directly onto the sculpture in clay. Continual improvements could be made until the hands were identical to the original. The replica was made in a UV stabilised polyester resin impregnated with marble dust.
The newly created ‘fingers’ and ‘hands’ were attached using stainless steel posts. A reversible polymer, Paraloid B72 was used to facilitate removal so that no damage by reshaping was caused to the break edges in the process; the principle of reversibility and the least intervention as part of conservation ethos was therefore upheld.