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Moth-munched Mayor's Coach back in Norwich after expensive restoration

PUBLISHED: 16:17 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:24 20 October 2019

The Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it'’s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

The Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it''s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Following months of loving restoration, a piece of Norwich's civic history has been safely returned to the fine city.

The Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it’s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodThe Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it’s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

In November last year, the Lord Mayor's Coach was sent away for conservation work, after parts of it were ravaged by ravenous moths.

While the civic coach had not been in use for some time, it had found a home in the coach house at Strangers' Hall, where it is on display to visitors.

However, its new home left it a prime target for the insects, with its horse hair stuffing proving most appetising for the moths.

In the past, conservators for the Norfolk Museum Service had relied on carbon dioxide treatment from Rentokil pest control, however, changes to health and safety legislation have meant options to deal with the moths were limited.

The Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it�s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodThe Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it�s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Instead, the decision was taken to send the coach away for specialist conservation treatment, which while coming at a £13,500 one-off cost should eliminate the need for regular moth treatment.

The coach was sent to Fairbourne Carriages in Kent where it was fully restored and fitted with conservation grade foam instead of horse hair to deter the pesky pests.

Cathy Terry, senior curator of social history at Strangers' Hall, said: "Over the years we have had real difficulties with moths at Strangers' Hall which we really try to keep up with.

"It is lovely to now have it back home in the coach house."

The Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it�s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodThe Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it�s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Francis Wood, coach maker at Fairbourne, said: "It was an extremely good quality coach to work on and very original, so it was a pleasure."

The original upholstery was removed during the restoration and has been treated in a walk-in freezer at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, enabling it to be preserved and studied in future.

With some of the cloth at the front of the coach will still be attractive to moths, it can easily be removed by conservators and treated in future.

The conservation project also saw some of the coach's woodwork, which had suffered from rot over time, restored and replaced, including one of the arm rests.

The Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it’s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodThe Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it’s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich City Council has previously said there are no plans for the coach to be brought back into use at this stage.

History of the coach

The Lord Mayor's Coach was built in the 1850s and at one stage was used by George VI during a visit to Norwich.

It was built by a highly regarded London-based firm called Turrill and Sons.

The Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it’s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodThe Lord Mayor's Coach has been away being repaired for months but it’s now back in Norwich at Strangers Hall. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

It was gifted to the city in 1911 by then mayor, Alderman Sir Eustace Gurney, who had previously received it from Major Jary of South Walsham.

For many years, it was then used by the mayor and sheriffs during civic occasions, including the Lord Mayor's Procession.

However, it has not been used for this purpose for a number years and is stored in the main coach house of Strangers' Hall.

When the coach was is use, the coach was pulled by either two or four horses and driven by the city's coachmen. It also has two designated spaces for two footmen to stand at the rear.

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