Scaffolding work on the Gallery roof is nearly completed

Posted by Admin on 12 Mar 2009, midnight


As the scaffolding work on the Gallery roof is nearly completed, it is like saying goodbye to the building while it disappears under wraps for a good few months. The good news is that we are on schedule for meeting the bat roosting period. In the strip out of the Gallery we have had some fascinating glimpses of the original colour of the tynecastle wallpaper which has now been carefully rolled up by Allyson McDermott and her crew of conservators, so that it can be restored.

The original galleries of 1904 look magnificent without the stud walls, creating almost cathedral like space. The fact that Watts Gallery is built on folkestone sand is now blatently obvious as we remove the floor in the sunken gallery, the lower gallery and the sculpture gallery. Each of these Galleries now look like a glorified sandpit.

Last week we organized our first public hard hat tours and one of the first to visit was our MP Anne Milton. When she had looked round, her comment was “and you are getting all of that for £10m?”. The extent of the work is staggering. The good news is that our Friends and volunteers who joined the hard hat tours were excited by what they saw, not, as we had feared, shocked by the state of the building.

The glass house, erected by former curator Wilfrid Blunt, has been taken down piece by piece and the Gallery has given it to the owners of Limnerslease.

There has been a great deal of discussion about the future of the Tea Shop and I would like to assure everyone that the plan is to continue providing a Tea Shop on the Watts Gallery Estate. If anyone has any views they wish to share or thoughts about the future I would be delighted to hear from them.

As we see, every day, the progress on the restoration work, every day I feel grateful for all those who have enabled us to save the Gallery.