Chester Propylaeum undergoes major conservation work

Funding in place for one of Chester's historic buildings

Senior construction project officer for CWaC Magnus Theobald, Councillor Louise Gittins, Heritage at Risk architect Peter Barlow and greenspace and environment manager for CWaC Ian Hesketh

An historic gateway to Chester that has been surrounded in scaffolding since last year will have some major conservation work carried out on it thanks to grants.

The entrance way to the Castle complex (known as the Propylaeum) will receive a grant totalling £679,000, made up of £404,000 from Historic England, £200,000 from Cheshire West and Chester Council and £75,000 from WREN.

The 200-year-old sandstone structure is built in the Greek Doric order, flanked by two smaller pedimented lodges and was designed by Chester-based architect Thomas Harrison. Work began on the grade 1 listed structure in 1811 and was finished in 1815.

Conservation funding is in place for one of Chester's historic buildings, the Propylaeum

Last year scaffolding was erected to prevent falling masonry and the cause of subsidence to one pavilion was investigated in June this year. Scheduled Monument Consent was needed to carry out excavations to both sides of the propylaeum. The work was undertaken by structural engineers and archaeologists and included a 3D laser survey of the buildings.

Cabinet member for culture, leisure and wellbeing Louise Gittins, said: “This very important and magnificent gateway was originally modelled on the Acropolis in Greece.

“Work begins around early February next year and will be completed in the summer. This major conservation project will make sure that the structure is saved so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.

“I would like to thank Historic England and WREN for their grants in making it possible to save this gateway which is considered to be one of the best examples of Greek revival architecture in the country.”

The new project includes:

 Underpinning part of the building which has suffered from subsidence

 Waterproofing the roof structure to prevent further water penetration

 Extensive repairs to the central gateway

 Repairs, removal of vegetation and gentle cleaning of the stonework

 Improvements to the current rainwater drainage system

 Replacement of existing light fittings with more elegant and energy efficient fittings and removal of redundant cabling

 Cleaning, repair and repainting of gates and railings

 More sympathetic surfacing around the building

Heritage at Risk principal Charles Smith said: “We are delighted that our ‘Heritage at Risk’ campaign is resulting in action to safeguard this monumental grade I listed building, designed as the gateway to Chester Castle.

“We’re pleased to be supporting Cheshire West and Chester Council in undertaking the essential repairs that will result in its removal from our register of historic sites under threat.”

The Propylaeum at Chester Castle

WREN is a not-for-profit business that awards grants for community, biodiversity and heritage projects from funds donated by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund.

WREN’s grant manager for the FCC Heritage Fund Peter Moralee said: “We are delighted to be funding such a worthwhile project and helping to safeguard the future of what is one of the country’s most at risk heritage sites. FCC Environment and WREN are dedicated to preserving the past for the benefit of generations to come.”

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