December 2013

For many people the West Gates are one of the first sights you will encounter as you walk towards the twin domes of the ORNC from Greenwich town centre.

The details of anchors, ropes, shells, mermen and merlions were an important reminder of the ORNC's naval past as the Royal Hospital for Seamen and its later use as the Royal Naval College to train officers for the Royal Navy. Keeping them looking at their best is therefore a crucial part of our regular conservation programme.

The maritime symbols on the gates have gone through many colour changes over the past few months as part of the gilding process. First they were stripped back with an alkaline stripper, then covered in a red oxide to protect the iron from rust and were painted with a yellow ochre enamel. 

Next the ironwork is repainted and the maritime details were gilded with two thin layers of 23 carat gold. Finally a protective layer of varnish is applied.

The end result is a much more beautiful entrance to the ORNC that returns the details on the gates to their original condition.

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