The scaffolding which has covered Dyrham Park for a year is coming off with a 100 tonne crane lifting off the huge sections which formed the scaffolding roof over the house.
The crane marks a significant moment in the £3.8 million project by the National Trust to save Dyrham Park by replacing the roof and making repairs to the stonework by removing the scaffolding roof and allowing the building to stand up to the weather itself once more.
Arriving on Wednesday 3 February and working on site for two days, the crane is needed to remove nine huge modules which form the roof of the 500 tonne scaffold structure.
It was also a special day for Dyrham Park’s bus driver Trish Coles, who conquered her fear of heights to go up in the crane basket – collecting sponsorship money for her efforts and raising more than £500 towards the cost of the project.
Ms Coles said: ‘It was amazing. I absolutely loved it. I’m terrified of heights and when my colleague Becky went up in the crane last year, I said I had no idea how she could do that and she challenged me to do it when the crane came back. I went up on the rooftop walkway a couple of times to get me used to heights and started collecting sponsorship for this challenge.’
Talking about the 80ft ascent, she added: ‘I was shaking when I got in the basket and had I seen someone else go up before me, I would’ve probably chickened out but I went first and it went up so quickly, it didn’t matter. When I was up there I just had to look straight ahead, I couldn’t look down, but I did it. Thanks to everyone who sponsored me. I guess I’m not so afraid of heights anymore.’
She joins a long list of thousands of individual supporters of the project who have helped to save Dyrham Park and ensure the original Dutch-inspired interiors and a priceless collection of furniture, Dutch art and ceramics of the period remain on show to visitors. Work will continue to recreate the 17th century world of William Blathwayt, both inside and outside the house.
National Trust Project Manager Colette Cuddihy said: ‘It seems like only yesterday that the crane was last here, building the structure ahead of the project – seeing it return is tinged with sadness as we’ve have the most incredible year here at Dyrham Park, but also with excitement as we look forward to seeing the house unwrapped.’
It is expected to take another 10-12 weeks before the scaffolding is all removed with the team from Bristol-based Ken Biggs and SGB scaffolding working to dismantle and remove all the scaffolding.
Dyrham Park is situated just off junction 18 of the M4 – 8 miles north of Bath and 12 miles east of Bristol. The park is open daily from 10am-4pm (last entry one hour before close), with the garden, shop and tea-room open daily from Saturday 6 February. The house reopens on Saturday 5 March.
More information is available at: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/DyrhamPark