Conservation and Restoration

builders at work conserving the roof on one of the Geevor buildings

Buildings

Today the site at Geevor consists of over 40 surface buildings. In common with most other 20th century industrial sites, these buildings were built to perform their function with the minimum of initial outlay.

Throughout the working life the mine, maintenance was undertaken only when required and at minimum costs, and following the International Tin Crash in 1985, nothing beyond essential work was undertaken. The mine closed in 1991 and was purchased by Cornwall County Council in 1992.

By 2000 it was clear that given the progressive deterioration of some structures and the extreme exposure of the site to the elements, a substantial programme of repair and refurbishment would be essential if the site was to remain open to visitors. A preliminary grant-aided programmed of works was undertaken in 2001 the majority of the work being focussed on structures accesses as part of the visitor tour.

A second phase of conservation was then necessary to extend the useable lives of the buildings on the site, ensure that they would meet modern health and safety requirements whilst retaining their authentic appearances. Having then secured major Heritage Lottery money, the £3.8 million project to conserve and restore over 18 site buildings began. This project included repair of damaged and dangerous roofs and claddings, the repair and stabilisation of reinforced concrete structures, reconstruction of some masonry elements including repointing and rendering, and the conservation of the Top Fitting Shop into a new high quality museum and interpretation space.

This project was completed in 2008 and has been the single most significant improvement to the site.However, the conservation of the site buildings does not and should not end there. As many of the buildings as listed under the English Heritage Listed Buildings Scheme, we have to report on routine maintenance and request permission for anything that goes beyond the ordinary. We are bound to look after these buildings according to this scheme. We plan our winter work load to undertake this routine maintenance and regularly seek advice from the Historic Environment Service of Cornwall Council.

Smaller object conservation

The collections of Geevor Tin Mine are rich and varied. The buildings that they are stored in were never designed to be permanent object stores and many of them are exposed to the harsh Atlantic winds and rain. Some larger objects are outside all year round, which can be very deteriorating. Our main aim at this point in time is to improve the environments in which our collections are stored. This is called preventative conservation and includes the following:

  • Creating a centralised store for small objects
  • Cleaning and creating suitable shelving facilities
  • Monitoring the temperature and humidity in the stores
  • Removing sources of harmful UV light penetration
  • Monitoring any insect presence in these stores
  • Removing original archive collections from damp and brightly-lit display areas
  • Restoring and digitisation of our maps and plans collection
  • Reviewing those objects that remain outside all year round

 

The curators at Geevor have had a basic training on remedial conservation. This may include rust removal or basic cleaning. Very occasionally we will outsource any remedial conservation work.


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