Work to restore iconic Academy Street mosaics commences

Historic image of the missing Mosaic at 96 Academy Street; courtesy of Highlife Highland Archive Service, circa 1905.
Historic image of the missing Mosaic at 96 Academy Street; courtesy of High Life Highland Archive Service, circa 1905.

Preparatory work on the restoration of the iconic mosaics, at 96 Academy Street, will begin on Sunday 22 July.

Cairngorm Taverns Ltd which owns the building at 96 Academy Street, has recently been awarded an Inverness Townscape Heritage grant to fully restore the building, bringing it back into use. Cairngorm Taverns has appointed Laing Traditional Masonry (LTM), which specialises in the conservation and repair of heritage buildings, as the main contractor.

The first phase of works to the mosaics will be carried out on Sunday 22 July by specialist sub-contractor, The Mosaic Restoration Company Ltd (MRC). Prior to LTM starting on site, steps are to be taken to stabilise the mosaics during the pre-construction period.  This involves applying a temporary protective layer to the mosaics.

Once the full building renovation commences and scaffolding is installed, two of the three mosaics on the Academy St elevation will be carefully removed to MRC’s factory for restoration.  Restoration work to the mosaic panel on the Rose Street elevation along with replacing the missing mosaic on the Academy St elevation can then be carried out on-site.

The mosaics are an important element of Inverness’s Industrial Heritage.  The building was designed by architects Alexander Ross and Robert John MacBeth.  The orginal plans submitted to the Dean of Guild show four blank arches above the top floor windows, a signature design by Ross and MacBeth.  These plans did not however detail the mosaics and it is understood that they were installed after the construction of the building was finished. 

Investigations conducted by a specialist mosaic restoration company in 2015 confirmed that the mosaics were made by Craven Dunnill Jackfield.  They would have been pre-fabricated in separate panels at their factory in Ironbridge; smaller mosaics were used for the decorative areas and larger ones utilised for the background.  

The missing mosaic from the left-hand Academy Street arch is estimated to have been lost over 50 years ago, however historic images, detail what the missing panel would have looked like and this allows it to be replicated as part of this project.

As work to restore the building at 96 Academy St continues in Inverness, the mosaics will be repaired in tandem in Shropshire and they will be reinstalled at the end of the renovation.

Chairman of the Townscape Heritage Partnership, Councillor Richard Laird commented: “I am delighted to know that work to restore these iconic mosaics is beginning.  Many locals hold these mosaics in high regard and have expressed their concern for them.  I particularly appreciate the attention to detail that the mosaics show. Everyone is very excited to see the restored panels eventually and it is great news they will be secure for many generation to enjoy in the future.”

Sam Faircliff, Managing Director of Cairngorm Brewery Company said “It’s very exciting to see work commence on the Mosaics. We are committed to restoring this iconic building to its former glory and will be working closely with contractors LTM to bring the full building back into use, providing a Highland showcase for Cairngorm and Loch Ness Breweries.”  
The Inverness TH Project is a collaboration of funding partners including Inverness City Heritage Trust (ICHT), Historic Environment Scotland (HES), The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and it is coordinated and led by Highland Council.

19 Jul 2018
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