Restoration of a sign of the times

By Tristan Davies

Readers may have recently noticed scaffolding coming down from the former Herald and Weekly Times building on Flinders St, completing months of paintstaking restoration on one of our most iconic heritage buildings.

Melbourne Heritage Action was lucky enough to be given an exclusive insight by the team at Ivy Constructions into how restoration on such a large heritage building happens.

Completed in stages between 1921-1928, with its soaring radio towers added in 1930, the building was an eye-witness to world wars, Olympic games, international espionage and all other news big and small during its time as home to some of Melbourne's most popular news sources inculding radio, as illustrated by the framed Herald and Sun newspapers visibile on the ground floor.
The restoration process by Ivy Constructions, in collaboration with Lovell Chen heritage architects, was completed in multiple stages to allow smaller groups of skilled craftsmen on site, ensuring the quality of restoration work was some of the highest seen in Australia in recent years.

Works included fixing cracks in the render and structure, stone cleaning, repair of steel framed windows, careful restoration of the original roof signage, and even the matched rebuilding of some parapets and columns, all leading to an outcome that one on the surface appears as if the building had never need work at all.
An innovative abseiling system was also fitted discreetly to the gutter cornice, allowing for quicker spot restoration and painting work in the future.

It’s great to have such a good news story to share, one we want to see repeated on many more Melbourne heritage buildings both large and small. It's fascinating to see just how much work goes into a large scale restoration, but also how a bit of effort in the short-term can keep our heritage shining into the long-term.

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