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Plan of Boston Manor estate, New Brentford, Middlesex, 1818

Plan of the Boston Manor Estate, before conservation

The conservation of a draft plan of the Boston Manor estate, 1818

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) holds the archive of the Clitherow family, a prominent merchant’s family in the City of London since the sixteenth century, which acquired properties in the City as well as the adjoining counties. Within this collection there is a series of plans and maps including a draft plan of the Boston Manor estate, New Brentford, Middlesex, 1818 (ACC/1360/307/001-002).

The draft plan was requested by a user earlier this year, who was unable to see it owing to its poor physical condition – it was unfit for consultation. A thick layer of surface dirt was obscuring the drawing. The plan, measuring 1300 x 1040 mm, presented severe damages to the paper support; the large size and the poor quality material did not facilitate handling and were causing more damage. There were tears along the edges of the panels that formed the plan. The edges around the plan were worn out and had major losses. The linen cloth applied to help to support the paper had deteriorated and was failing to do its job.

Conservation treatment

The conservation treatment was carried out by our conservator Paul Thorogood. The first thing Paul did was to remove the dirt from the plan by means of a latex sponge. The textile lining was then removed dry by pulling it away from the paper at 45 degrees. Luckily with this procedure most of the solid lumps of dirt came away. The lining that was firmly attached to the paper support was removed by damping with wet blotter to reverse the adhesive. The plan still needed to be washed to remove dirt and stains; the inks were tested first to establish if they could be safely washed. Gentle brushing was required to lift the dirt. The adhesive that kept the panels together was washed away with the dirt and staining. Ten separate panels were left to dry after washing was completed. The paper appeared to be much cleaner and the drawing lines were easier to read.

Reassembling the panels was the most difficult and time consuming part of the entire treatment. A large sheet of RK17 Japanese tissue was wetted out onto a non-woven polyester sheet called Bondina® which was attached to a glass table top. The ten panels were wetted out onto separate pieces of polythene sheet. The polythene sheets provided support for the fragile wet paper. The tissue was pasted out with thin wheat starch paste and the damp panels were assembled onto the pasted tissue. The panels were placed in the same order in which they were originally assembled so that the overlaps were correct and no inscriptions were lost. The lined plan was left to air dry over the weekend and then removed from the glass table top. The more recent panel attached to one side was left detached as it concealed the drawing and inscription beneath. This panel did not require washing.

During the treatment the date and the title of the drawing were revealed because they had been hidden underneath the paper lining. Visible small holes were made in the new tissue lining to allow this information to be seen.

The plan was sleeved in a large Melinex pocket to secure safe handling of this large plan in the future. The user who originally requested the plan is now able to consult it. More information about how to request access to Unfit documents under LMA’s Access to Unfits programme is given here.

Discover more

You can find out more about the activities of LMA's conservation team on our Conservation page.

13 August 2015
Last Modified:
24 August 2018