Bridgeton Pavilion Paint Investigation
Historic Scotland (TCG) paintings conservation department were asked to undertake an investigation of the original colour scheme used to decorate the Bridgeton Pavilion, affectionately known as Bridgeton Umbrella, at Bridgeton Cross, Glasgow for architects Page and Park. It was the intention to remove the existing paint layers from the pavilion and repaint the structure using the original coatings found. This investigation forms part of the Clyde Gateway Project. A multi agency project set up to tackle the physical and economic decline of a large part of the east end of Glasgow and South Lanarkshire.
Bridgeton Pavilion was manufactured by George Smith & Co and produced by the Sun Foundry, Glasgow. The cast iron pavilion was installed in 1875 and stands at a height of 50 feet.
The Pavilion is an open structure comprising eleven fluted columns, ten around the outside and one central. These support a cast iron roof imitating tiling. The Glasgow Coat of Arms is displayed on four faces above at the base of the clock tower. A small ogee roof covers this finished off with a decorative spire.
Until recently the Pavilion was painted in a wide colour scheme. The approach to the investigation used a combination of taking small paint samples, made into cross-sections, together with carrying out several small ‘paint scrapes’ through the existing layers. Samples were taken from each structural element, using a cherry picker to access the upper areas.
From the evidence obtained the Pavilion seems to have been painted in a much simpler scheme than that found during the investigation. The only evidence of early gold was found on the sphere. Gold may have been used to ‘pick out’ several other elements although this was not found in the samples taken. Any major ‘picking out’ of features seems to have been done in the recent past, last half of the 20th century. The simple colouring would allow the line of the structure to be appreciated more easily rather than having numerous colour changes, particularly around the upper columns and spandrel area.
Many of the samples, particularly those from the upper area, show the presence of a dark green scheme over a grey preparation. This scheme has been repeated twice and the position within the samples suggest that these more subdued tones were applied during the war time years. Unfortunately the two existing historical photographs, from 1894 and 1959 provide little evidence of the colour scheme although the 1959 photograph shows the Glasgow arms has been ‘picked out’ by that time. The fish, helmet, inscription and shield are light and the tree seems to have been painted black.
The Pavilion has now undergone cleaning and conservation work and the original colour scheme as identified in the investigation has been reinstated.
Ailsa Murray, Paintings Conservator