The Royal Artillery Memorial, London - DBR (London) Limited

The Royal Artillery Memorial is a large stone war memorial at Hyde Park Corner, London. Commissioned by the Royal Artillery War Commemoration Fund in 1921 to commemorate the 49,000 British soldiers in the Royal Regiment of Artillery who lost their lives in the First World War, it was designed by former infantry officer Charles Sargeant Jagger and architect Lionel Pearson, and unveiled in 1925.

Atop a large, tall plinth of Portland stone sits a stone sculpture of an Ordnance BL 9.2 inch howitzer, a heavy shell-firing cannon introduced in 1914 and used by the Royal Artillery during the war. The sides of the plinth are further decorated with intricate stone carvings depicting scenes of the members of the Regiment in action. Bronze statues stand upon each of the four sides of the wider base of the plinth. The Memorial is a Grade I listed building whose care and maintenance is the responsibility of English Heritage. 

The Problem

The Royal Artillery Memorial suffers from a number of inter-related problems. It is set in a very polluted environment with high levels of exhaust emissions, it is shaded by two large plane trees, and its design means that rainwater tends to be retained on the horizontal areas of the memorial. As a result, it has suffered from algal growth as well as erosion of the fine relief carvings. The maintenance used to be carried out regularly, with the stonework cleaned every few months using high-pressure water. Unfortunately, this had the effect of opening up the pores of the stone even more and making colonisation by algae even easier. In order to reduce the damage, a comprehensive programme of investigation was carried out to try to find a more suitable longer-term solution.

The Solution

In 2011, DBR London was commissioned by English Heritage to undertake major conservation and restoration work on the Memorial. Restorative Techniques ThermaTech was specified as an effective, non-destructive cleaning method. DBR’s technicians used the machine at a temperature of 150°C with a 45° nozzle. This had the desired effect of removing the algae and discoloration that had built up. The stone was further treated with an algal growth inhibiting agent; the joints were re-pointed with hydraulic lime mortar; and a protective shelter coat was applied to the stone carvings. 

The Outcome

Although the Royal Artillery Memorial still suffers from the same problems, cleaning is now needed less often than before, and the ThermaTech® has been specified for all future maintenance. This will help it to be preserved for continued remembrance in the future. 

  • Royal Artillery Memorial before cleaning (1)
  • Royal Artillery Memorial after cleaning (1)
  • Royal Artillery Memorial before cleaning (2)
  • Royal Artillery Memorial after cleaning (2)