It is claimed that the sculpture also known as the ‘Warmley Giant’ is the largest garden statue in Britain and the oldest concrete statue. The figure is constructed from mainly waste slag and was erected by William Champion in around 1750 as part of his ‘Industrial Utopia’ landscaped garden surrounding his Brass and Zinc works at Warmley House.
South Gloucestershire Council commissioned Cliveden to carefully repair the historic statue, which dates back to the 18th century. The giant had become seriously decayed due to natural weathering and invasive roots and required urgent repairs to stabilise its condition.
The work took four weeks and included removal of plant growth from ground level to the top of Neptune’s head, stabilisation repairs and lime based mortar repairs together with the treatment of iron fixings.
As part of its condition report Cliveden Conservation had discovered that the metalwork which forms a framework for the structure had corroded and rusted. The right leg of the statue had become badly damaged by these corroding internal iron fixings and had caused a major split.
Brian Bentley from Cliveden Conservation said: "This was a delicate operation but we managed to stabilise the leg by pinning together the two halves with stainless steel dowel and using traditional lime based grout. The open cracks in the sides of the leg were then filled with a colour matched mortar for a seamless finish."
Where the metalwork had corroded and rusted, Cliveden Conservation removed all the loose material and treated the surfaces. The conservation team also cleaned open joints and used lime based mortars to cap and repair holes.
South Gloucestershire council’s cabinet member for communities and tourism, councillor Heather Goddard, said: "It is fantastic news that this historic feature of the Warmley Gardens has been restored to its former glory. Enhancing and protecting our natural and built environment is a key priority for South Gloucestershire Council.
South Gloucestershire Council is now hoping for the formation of a garden Friends Group to ensure this unique and important site is protected for future generations.