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Intensive restoration work at 1820s fort under way

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Dean Saunders mixes lime with water to make a slurry (Photograph supplied)

A gunpowder magazine built in the 1820s is undergoing intensive restoration helping to keep its important role in Bermuda’s history alive.

The project is part of the wider St George’s Foundation restoration programme at Ferry Point Park in St George’s which is being run under a memorandum of understanding signed with the Department of Parks and the Ministry of Public Works.

The work on the magazine is being carried out by Dean Saunders, who played an integral role in the restoration of the Unfinished Church in St George’s, and who studied stone conservation and restoration at West Dean College in Chichester, UK.

The restoration of the magazine’s perimeter wall, which is structurally compromised and vulnerable to hurricane and water damage, uses traditional construction methods and is expected to take several weeks to complete.

Mr Saunders, who has been trained by traditional stonemasons, said: “I built the scaffolding out of wood. There is no concrete and no electrical tools. I’m doing everything as it would have been done when it was built helping to keep it safe while preserving its history.

“There is nothing modern. I am using lime mortar, stone saws and limestone. I am trying to keep it as it looked before, keep it looking good for the tourists, and stabilise the wall.”

Once the restoration work is completed on the parameter wall, the foundation will be looking to restore the outer layer of the magazine roof and intends to restore the old lime kiln located just off the railway trail at Ferry Point Park.

The magazine served as the main magazine for St George’s, holding up to 220 barrels of gunpowder.

Dean Saunders measures the spaces to fit the block (Photograph supplied)

Cheryl Hayward-Chew, the foundation’s director chairwoman, said: “We are excited to see the work begin in the restoration of the gunpowder magazine at Ferry Point Park, a key initiative generated by the memorandum of understanding signed last year with the Department of Parks and Ministry of Public Works.

“It means we are a step closer to our objective of using this part of the Unesco World Heritage Site as an outdoor classroom where Bermuda’s students will develop their understanding of heritage and be able to articulate the importance of preserving cultural and natural heritage sites.”

More funds are needed to complete the Ferry Point Park programme and the St George’s Foundation is encouraging the community to donate towards the restoration.

Dean Saunders measures the spaces to fit the block (Photograph supplied)

The organisation said the projects will help St George’s to maintain its Unesco Heritage Site Status.

The foundation said: “Maintaining this status is not only important as it relates to heritage and education, but it is also important for Bermuda’s tourism brand.”

Work began in November on clearing out invasive trees and plants as part of the continuing preservation and restoration of nearby Ferry Island Fort, which dates back to between 1795 and 1798. The fort enhanced the protection of the ferry crossing and the shipping lanes in Castle Harbour.

Dean Saunders levelling the block to restore the magazine (Photograph supplied)

The entire St George’s site will become an educational resource for students and residents, and a learning programme is already in the works that will be integrated into the school system.

Anyone wishing to get involved, become a member or donate towards the restoration projects should visit https://sgf.bm

Cheryl Hayward-Chew, director chairwoman for the St George’s Foundation (Photograph supplied)
Dean Saunders measures the spaces to fit the block (Photograph supplied)

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Published January 13, 2022 at 7:49 am (Updated January 13, 2022 at 7:42 am)

Intensive restoration work at 1820s fort under way

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