Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grave Project, Bulletin No 13 - Preparatory Work Begins

Preparatory work began on the Bushell Brown gravesite at the Wilberforce Cemetery on 2 October, when stonemasons Sach Killam, Grant Skinner and Matthew Johnson gathered there to investigate the scope of works. Committee member Patsy Templeton watched the proceedings as an interested observer, and was impressed with the courtesy, care and commitment shown by all three men on this first day - the care they took around the grave-sites, the respect they showed to other graves and their careful approach to the challenging nature of moving the stones without any stress on the stones themselves.

Work began with the unloading of a hand driven mobile crane from a truck.
The crane was trundled through the cemetery and was set up very close to the two piles of stones, ready to lift the heavier slabs.
One of the four feet was set up on the Cobcroft grave sites behind the Bushell/Brown sites. There was of course no damage to this site. 
The next job was to set up runs of wooden supports, some hardwood and some softwood. Strips of artificial grass were rolled out, to avoid discolouration from soil and natural grass. The stones were carefully lifted off the piles and laid out for sorting. There was no possibility of any of the stones being scratched during the moving. 
Sach and Matthew set up the stones in matching styles and thicknesses, taking measurements all the while. It quickly became obvious which stones belonged to which grave site.
The upper grave seems to be made of sandstone, which was quite thin (as per the above picture), and the sides of the altar tomb were slabs which were inscribed with names, and fitted together with the top slab in a groove. The top slab has 2 large pieces which fit together, plus a few small bits, one of which is a little more substantial than the others. There appears to be two side pieces of the four, plus Mary Brown’s engraved piece, but no corner pieces. The outer base is in situ, and the base of the altar vault itself seems to be about 50% there. However the challenge with this altar monument lies under the ground. On further investigation, it was found that the archway entrance to the vault (shown in the upper centre of the picture below), made of brick, had been eroded, and builder’s cement poured into the vault to support the archway and stop further erosion. This will need to be discussed with Heritage.
The lower grave was made of a sort of granite, much thicker (as the pictures above and below show), and its sides were self-supporting under the top slab, with a design on them. The lower grave is in better shape. Both pieces of the top slab are there, along with a few of the side pieces and corner pieces and a solid base on which to put the new base for restoration work.
The following picture shows the current appearance of the grave site, with the stones removed from their former stacks and laid out on the runners behind the grave.
The stones will remain laid out as pictured until Sach prepares his report on his findings and recommendations, a quote is received and approved, Heritage approval is given (hopefully before Christmas), and the actual restoration work begins.

No comments:

Post a Comment