ONE of the most prestigious buildings in Britain has been returned to its former glory, thanks to a Portsmouth company.
A team at McAndrew Martin Chartered Surveyors were asked to clean and repair the Horse Guards building in London in time for the Queen’s birthday celebrations.
Not only was it a mammoth task, but it almost had to stop altogether when the Duke of Edinburgh was rushed to hospital before Christmas.
Bill McAndrew, who owns the firm, said: ‘We were asked how long it would take to get the scaffolding down.
‘We said two to three weeks, but they said we might have to have it down in 72 hours.
‘We didn’t realise at the time but that was when the Duke of Edinburgh was rushed to hospital, and if he hadn’t recovered the funeral would have passed through Horse Guards.’
The building was built in 1710 and was last renovated in the 1940s following World War Two.
Over the past 70 years, the 96,875sq ft building had accumulated a layer of filth, including on each of its 280 windows, 70 chimney stacks and its bell tower.
It was part of the work the team at McAndrew Martin had to do to the building to remove the filth and return the structure to how it must have looked when it was first built 302 years ago.
‘There had been small pieces of stone falling from the walls, and the fear was with the amount of visitors there, someone would be injured,’ Mr McAndrew said.
‘The initial brief was to look after the stone and then to look after the windows.
‘But because the building hadn’t been touched for so many years they thought it would be an opportunity to clean it at the same time.
‘Now it’s transformed – it’s now how it would have looked shortly after it was built.
‘It was quite a privilege to work on a building like that, and bearing in mind how long it’s been since the last work was done on it, we think there can’t be many people who have had the opportunity to see it like we have.’
The work was carried out in consultation with English Heritage.
Mr McAndrew added: ‘For a little company in Portsmouth to win a contract like this, it’s been a huge boost for all of us.’