Restoring the BBC Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House, London was one of out more exciting challenges. Given the age of the Gilbert Bayes friezes on the walls of the Concert Hall in Broadcasting House and the woodwork panelling there was lots of work to do.
The picture below shows how the radio theatre used to be.
Can you spot the friezes? (more info http://www.bbc.co.uk/historyofthebbc/collections/art/bayes)
Can see they are above a good height of wooden panelling?
If you also look at the two doors at the back of the stage- they were called “Coffin doors” as the tops opened up to allowing tall things to go onto the stage, for example, pianos on their sides, 8 x 4 screens etc.
The harmonics of the room were awful so the BBC decided to take out all of the seats, put a new “slab” of concrete in which altered the acoustics. BUT they were not allowed to permanently remove or damage the wall panelling or friezes as they are listed.
So the panels SHOULD have been carefully removed, and brought up to us so we could strip and then FIRE PROOF them so that they met building regulations.
Sadly the builders ripped the panels off the wall to get to the friezes and then broke the wood down further to get them out of the building. By the time they got to us they were a MESS:
Splintered timber. Missing bits. BIG nail holes.
We had to reconstruct them in our workshop and then fill, strengthen and repair them all. Once the panels were all finished and they had put in the concrete “slab”, they were all put back into place. We then had to touch it all out again.
Here are some in action photos:
The panels BEFORE they were practically destroyed getting them out of the building
Beautiful Panelling fully restored, fireproof and enjoyed by thousands of people attending recordings and performances at the BBC Radio Theatre, London.