“Raising the roof” as £1.4 m project to save part of Shropshire’s heritage reaches new heights at Attingham Park

Staff at Attingham Park, Shropshire, are getting ready to literally raise the roof as the £1.4m project to install a state-of-the-art glass roof above the Picture Gallery reaches a new height. Witnessing the secondary roof being installed will be a ‘once-in-a lifetime opportunity’ to see part of Shropshire’s heritage rescued for future generations.

Designed to protect the beautiful but flawed roof below it from the elements, the new secondary roof, measuring 19m by 7m and weighing 20 tons, is set to be lifted into place this week. The iconic original roof designed by John Nash in 1805 was a ground breaking design and one of the first uses of cast iron in a domestic setting. Iron had already been used in engineering contexts – nearby, iconic Ironbridge was built in 1779, and Ditherington Flax Mill in Shrewsbury, the oldest iron-framed building in the world, was completed in 1797. Attingham’s Nash roof was the next step in this Shropshire story of iron innovation – but it began to let in water soon after its installation, threatening the paintings below.

In the 1970s an additional glazed roof was installed above the original but that has also started leaking and is being replaced as part of the ‘Attingham Re-discovered Goes Through the Roof’ project. The new roof will ensure that Nash’s innovative yet flawed roof is protected below and will also safeguard the important collections in the Picture Gallery.

The “Through the Roof” project has been praised for its open approach to conservation, with specialist roof tours, regular blog updates and a series of behind-the-scenes videos enabling visitors to keep up to date with all the unfolding work. Now visitors will have a chance to see the crane at work, and to come into the mansion over the next few months to find out more about the final stages of the project.

Helen Royall, Mansion Conservation and Engagement Manager, said: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to see the new roof lifted into place.
“Years of detailed research have enabled us to get to this point and we are all very excited about seeing it all come to fruition.”

Helen added that the ‘Through the Roof’ project has enabled additional conservation to take place which would ordinarily be too difficult to reach.

She said: “The scaffolding inside the picture gallery has allowed us access to conserve Nash’s original gilding and glass so that it’s all looking like new. 
“We’ve also been able to clean and repair Nash’s stained glass inner skylight, at the top of the staircase, which is now back to its vibrant best.”

The ‘Through the Roof’ project is part of the wider ‘Attingham Re-discovered’ phased programme of conservation to restore Attingham Hall to its original Regency splendour.

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