Repair work on a century-old statue of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott will finally begin after it was damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.
Handcrafted by Scott’s widow, the 2.5 tonne marble statue stood on its plinth in the centre of Christchurch since 1912, when it unevenly broke at its ankles during the 2011 quakes.
The statue commemorates Scott and the men who perished with him on a return journey from exploring the South Pole.
The break was considered technically difficult to repair by structural engineers due to the uneven leg break.
A team of experts, including a structural engineer and a sculptor, has researched and tested a repair strategy for the Scott statue involving threading carbon fibre rods through the legs to strengthen them.
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 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.