Lord Nelson gets a facelift

The Guardian-14 years before

Stonemasons were able to patch up the London monument using Craigleith sandstone, the original material used in its construction. Since the closure of the Craigleith Quarry in Scotland 60 years ago, getting hold of the stone has been virtually impossible and previous restorers have had to make do with mortar and cement. This time, however, the stone was salvaged during the restoration of an A-listed building in Edinburgh and donated by Scottish company Watson Stonecraft.

On top of receiving a 21st-century facelift, Nelson has also been thoroughly cleaned and had an iron cast remov...d from his left arm after modern equipment established that it had not been permanently broken when struck by lightning 100 years ago. A laser survey was also carried out for the first time revealing that Nelson is actually a few metres shorter than was previously thought, and actually stands at 51.7 metres.

The scaffolding used during the restoration is due to come down in the next two weeks in time for the Trafalgar Square Festival on August 3.

Trafalgar Square Festival The project has not been without its dramas. It was at the eye of a political storm last month when Greenpeace revealed that the contractors employed by the Greater London Authority were protecting Nelson's Column using wood illegally logged from the rain forests of Papua New Guinea.

Sponsors Zurich footed the bill for Nelson's improvements, which cost in the region of £400,000. It has been money well spent according to Adrian Attwood, from David Ball Restoration Limited, who claims that Nelson is now "looking much better than he has for years".

The revered British admiral became famous for his role in the Napoleonic wars, most notably the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where he lost his life. The monument was conceived in 1812 by John Nash to commemorate Nelson's victory at Trafalgar, although building work did not start until 1839.

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