St Fagans National History Museum is a renowned open-air museum in Wales, offering insights into the country’s rich culture and history. As an approved stone restoration and heritage building cleaning contractor for CADW and the National Museums of Wales, we were entrusted with the task of renovating a fireplace flue in Cilewent Farmhouse.
The interior of the flue had accumulated tar and resins over the centuries, posing a fire risk and requiring careful removal. The museum authorities sought a safe and effective solution to restore the flue in this valuable heritage building.
After conducting a comprehensive assessment of the project, our team confidently proposed the sodablasting method as the optimal solution for stone restoration. This gentle yet highly effective blast cleaning technique, employing bicarbonate of soda as the blasting material, was deemed ideal for removing stubborn organic deposits such as tar and bitumen. What set soda blasting apart was its ability to achieve exceptional results without causing any harm to the precious stonework beneath.
Recognising the significance of the project, the conservation architects and curators wholeheartedly embraced the idea and approved a trial run to ascertain the method’s effectiveness and safety. The trial proved to be a resounding success, further reinforcing the suitability of soda blasting for heritage building restoration. With the green light from the experts, we proceeded with confidence to restore the stone flue at St Fagans National History Museum, ensuring its preservation for generations to come.
The sodablasting proved to be the ideal solution for the conservation of the stone flue. Unlike conventional blast cleaning methods, sodablasting works from the outside, gradually removing layers until the stone is exposed. Conventional blast cleaning relies on the abrasive media breaking the bond between the substrate and contamination, which can be aggressive to the delicate heritage stone. In contrast, sodablasting is non-abrasive and non-destructive, making it safe for use on historical structures.
Another significant advantage of soda blasting is the use of bicarbonate of soda, a material as soft as talc. This means that once the organic contamination is removed, the sodablasting process will not scratch or abrade the stonework. In the case of the flue at St Fagans, this was especially important, as there was no parging, and the flue was stone and brick lined. Sodablasting ensured that the surfaces remained intact and free from any damage during the cleaning process.
Following the successful trial, we were appointed as the stone cleaning contractors for the project. Prior to commencing the cleaning, we carefully prepared the area by clearing furniture and sealing the fire opening to contain any waste from the sodablasting process. To achieve this, we used a framework and sealed the edges against the hearth and fire surround using tape.
Since the flue was a large single structure, there were no obstructions hindering the use of a portable lift to access the entire 25-meter length of the flue. Over the course of three days, our skilled technicians and their soda blasting equipment efficiently cleaned the entire flue. The waste from the cleaning process was meticulously collected, brushed, and vacuumed into our waste containers for transportation and disposal, in strict accordance with environmental regulations.
The sodablasting process effectively removed the thick layer of tar and resins, restoring the flue to its original condition. Once the cleaning was completed, our equipment was safely packed back into the vans, and the furniture was reinstated. The room with the restored flue was then made available to the public once again, ensuring the heritage building’s preservation, safety, and historical significance.
Choose APT for Your Heritage Building Restoration Needs
For top-tier monument restoration and stone cleaning services, trust APT—the leading soda blasting company in the UK. If you manage a heritage site or listed building, contact us to discuss how we can assist you with any restoration projects. Call us on 0800 0723 773 now for expert advice on brick cleaning or architectural masonry renovation requirements. Preserve the beauty and integrity of historical structures with APT’s dedicated soda blasting expertise. Let us help you restore and preserve the legacy of your heritage building for generations to come.