Works to protect Lincoln Cathedral for the next century and to preserve its West Front treasures are progressing well and remain on schedule despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
The iconic building’s specialist works department has completed 93,000 hours on the West Front alone as part of a National Lottery Heritage Fund-backed project to restore the cathedral and improve its visitor experience.
Once the works are completed, it is expected that the West Front will not need major conservation for another century.
The works to the West Front are just one part of the wider £16.5m project. This has seen other vital restoration and conservation work carried out on the cathedral’s Parvis, Cloister Wall, Eastgate Wall and 13th century Exchequergate Arch.
As part of the works, the Gallery of Kings – a 14th century stone carving depicting 11 kings – is undergoing a 12-month restoration programme.
This includes high-tech yet gentle laser cleaning, structural and non-structural pinning repairs, and repairs to the masonry and mortars.
The laser cleaning allows the carving to be cleaned without being damaged. It allows the dirt to be removed without abrading the stone surface.
The same laser cleaning and repair treatment is also being used on the Romanesque Frieze – an intricate 12th century sculpture depicting a series of biblical narratives.
Identical copy carvings are being produced for the cathedral’s new exhibition centre. It is due to open later this year within the new visitor centre, which will include exhibition and learning spaces, a shop and cafe with inside and outside seating.
The final part of the five-year programme is to clean and conserve the West Front’s oldest feature – the Great West Doorway – which dates back to the 12th century.
Michael Sheppard, director of works and property at Lincoln Cathedral, said: “It is an honour to see the vital conservation works to the West Front continue on schedule.
“These are the first substantial works to the West Front since the 1980s, and by implementing innovative and cutting-edge conservation practices and techniques, it will be protected for decades to come.
“Lincoln Cathedral is significant in different ways for so many people in the UK, but especially the city of Lincoln and the local community that view it daily. Knowing that we are employing the best treatment techniques and methodology to the iconic building is vitally important and an absolute privilege.”