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Scott Statue repair under way

Scott Statue repair under way

Work is about to begin in earnest to repair the statue of British Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

The statue was rocked from its plinth during the 22 February, 2011, earthquake.

It had stood on its plinth in Oxford Terrace for 100 years and commemorates Scott and the men who perished with him on the return journey from the South Pole in 1912. Carved in marble by Scott’s widow, Kathleen Scott, the statue is considered to be of national and international importance.

When it fell, the 2.5-tonne statue broke unevenly at the ankles, making the repair technically difficult.

A team of experts, including a structural engineer and a sculptor, has researched, developed and tested a repair strategy that involves threading carbon fibre rods through the legs to strengthen them and installing a form of base isolation in the plinth.

This method proved successful during pressure testing carried out in early May and the team is now ready to work on the statue itself.

This week the statue was taken out of storage, hoisted high in the air and gradually lowered head-first into a specially constructed frame that will support it while the repair work is carried out.

The statue will be suspended within the frame and packed in sand to hold it steady. The legs will protrude from the top so that the repair work can be done.

Christchurch City Council’s Head of Parks, Andrew Rutledge, says a lot of work has gone into getting the repair project to this stage.

“The testing of our repair strategy was very successful,” he says. “We’ve done everything we possibly can to minimise the risk of damaging the statue further.”
Those working on the statue are mindful that although the repair method has been tested using the same type of marble, it is possible that the statue, which has many tiny fissures running through the stone, may react differently during the drilling.

“There is still a small chance, despite our best efforts, that we won’t be able to complete the repair,” Mr Rutledge said.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the statue of Captain Scott is special for several reasons.

“It was carved by Scott’s widow, which is in itself quite special, but it’s also a very tangible link back to that heroic age of Antarctic exploration,’’ she says. “Scott and his party made their final preparations for the journey here and departed from Lyttelton, and to this day, Christchurch remains an international gateway to Antarctica.”

Before the earthquake, the statue had been a place of reflection for many people with links to Antarctica, and Ms Dalziel says she is looking forward to it being back on its plinth.

“All going well, we will be unveiling the statue at the start of the 2017 Antarctic Season, in early October,” she says.


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