Restoration of the Albert Memorial, Saltburn, ClevelandRedcar and Cleveland Borough Council

BBA flythrough of the concept sketch repairs

We’re working with Redcar and Cleveland District Council to restore the Albert Memorial in the Valley Gardens in Saltburn.
The Memorial has surprising beginnings. It is the relocated portico from the first Barnard Castle railway station, built in 1854. The railway soon had two stations and the first became redundant.
In 1864, the portico is re-erected in the Valley Gardens for £300 and repurposed as a memorial to Prince Albert, husband and Prince Consort to Queen Victoria who died in December 1861.

The building formed the centre piece of the planned Valley Gardens and it marked the northern end of the Halfpenny Bridge (built in 1868 to provide a pedestrian route to the proposed- but never built- new housing to the south and it was demolished in 1974).

Confusingly it is called a Temple on the old maps, a Pavilion in the Listing description and by most others as a Portico reflecting its origins.
It is a small classical temple, typical sited in the typical manner of an 18thC landscape, as a focal point and (to add another description) to create a Belvedere, a place to look out onto the landscape. It had a flat roof and a walkway onto it. The pediment was unsupported and has been leaning outwards. And the front has sunk 80mm.

It has fared reasonably well until the last 50 years or so when loss of maintenance and a rise in antisocial behaviour has caused the structure to deteriorate to a point where it has become in danger of collapse. We have arranged a new structural design with Mason Clark Associates, Conservation Engineers, York to replace the rotten timber beams that held up the entablature and portico with new timber clad steel beams.

To improve its aesthetic, remove long term maintenance issues and support the portico we are adding a pitched roof and that also consolidates the image of a temple in the landscape.

Recently we buried a time capsule at the site at its official opening by the Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland Council and David Beaumont gave an introduction to the project:

I hope you can hardly tell that we’ve done anything to it apart from sprucing it up a bit.

Behind the fresh paint is a story of a dangerous structure close to collapse- in fact if you hadn’t have acted now it would have fallen and you would have had a Grecian grotto on your hands.

But thanks to RCBC, and funders- Tees Valley Combined Authority, Saltburn Valley CIO, the restoration was acted on.

From my perspective as a conservation architect it has been a fantastic project to work on. It’s had its challenges such as;

Difficult access
Intruders and the need to be vigilant
Scaffold to do the job
Managing all the 60 tonne stonework on the beefy scaffold
The loss of the 4 wheeled gator (a particular loss for me as the paths are steep)
Anti vandal paint malarky- shall we/ shan’t we (we decided no due to recoating difficulties)
Electrical provision and security arrangements
Paint colours and anti vandal coatings
Stone repairs
Decisions on presentation

But the rewarding part for me has been to work with an excellent conservation contractor in Pinnacle Conservation Ltd of York. The architect doesn’t know it all and when we needed to know what to do, Pinnacle’s specialists were free with their advice and guidance. So many thanks to them.

I always say a good client makes good buildings and in Jamie Reed, the Project Officer and RCBC we had someone who took our dilemmas in his stride and helped guide us with good humour and understanding of the difficulties we faced. Even when we went slightly (slightly) over budget.

It sounds a cliché these days but it’s a team who delivers these projects and I’d like to think we’ve all done Albert proud and given him another spin of the wheel for the generation and community that follows us’.

Saltburn Valley CIO web page

RCBC commissioned some drone photography from Chapman Brown Photography

Drone photography