Abbey Mills Pumping Station – what can be revealed on reviewing archive images

Abbey Mills, the stencilled design on the panels was recreated using an archive image, uncovering and paint analysis

Detail of archive image from AbbeyMills pumping station

While working on the recreation of the polychrome decoration at Abbey Mills pumping station an archive image came to our attention and a faint outline of a decorative feature could be seen on the panels just underneath the walkway on the inside of the octagon. On looking at this image blown up on a screen we could also see small flowers running underneath the arches.

Helen Hughes began investigations and both paint analysis and uncovering were carried out to see whether we could determine the extent of the scheme.

On uncovering it could be seen that the design was a one colour stencilled pattern. After uncovering two panels and viewing all the panels in a raking light it could be seen that the design mirror imaged at the centre of the arches. The colour was determined from paint analysis and related to the other colours in the scheme.

Once the colour was mixed and the stencilling begun the design and colour fitted in perfectly with the rest of the scheme.

Link to Abbey Mills full project page