In 2019 we had a conservation survey done on most of the wheeled objects in our collection; carts, wagons, fire engines etc. The survey helped us to decide which wheeled objects are most in need of conservation. In a perfect world we would have all objects conserved, but conservation is expensive. We had to weigh things up, the importance of the objects and the state they were in.
For the Stable Yard re-development project we decided to get quotes for three objects: The Normanby Park Fire Engine, The Sheffield Farm Wagon and the Donkey Bath Chair. The first two have a very strong connection to Normanby Hall Country Park and the Sheffield Family. The second is a very good example of the type of luxury personal carriage that wealthy families like the Sheffield Family would have possibly owned.
Conservation is preserving an object in its current state. Original material is kept, wear and tear will be shown and not covered up. Whereas in restoration the aim is to get an object as close as possible to its original state. Materials will be added to complete the object again, for example new paint will replace old. We are having a bit of both done with our objects.
We want to keep the original paint on the Fire Engine as it is part of the object’s history. The paint will be stabilised to stop any more of it coming off. The fabric around the water hose is partially detached and will be re-attached.
The lining of the Donkey Bath Chair is in a sad state, but we want to keep what is left of it so that we have the original material. The conservators will only add new material to stabilise it. But besides stabilising the original fabric, it will also enhance the aesthetics of the whole chair, so it will look better overall! The wooden front that can be put up for protection from the elements is not complete. We do still have the wooden arch which will be re-attached. One of the glass panels is missing and a replacement will be made.
While inspecting the Donkey Bath Chair, I came across some intruders. These 5 butterflies were hoping for a nice dry place to stay. They were on the inside of the chair’s front panel. I was mean and evicted them.
The Sheffield Farm Wagon will need some material adding to it. For example, new wood will be added so that the back board of the wagon can be re-attached. The existing paint work will be consolidated.
Our objects will be missed when they go to their conservation wellness spa. But when they come back, they will be looking the best they have in a long time!