Conservation techniques and the Denge sound mirrors

… One of the largest projects funded by the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund and managed by English Heritage was concerned with stabilizing these structures and undertaking research into their repair.

This paper aims to outline the conservation approach to the project and to detail the concrete repair techniques trialled. It also highlights some pointers for the repair of twentieth-century concrete based on the advice of a master mason and a concrete repair contractor. Finally, the long-term monitoring that is in place for the carbonation inhibitors and cathodic protection systems that are installed on these structures are detailed.

The Listening Mirrors – A Conservation Approach to Concrete Repair Techniques by Alan Wright and Peter Kendall. Journal of Architectural Conservation, Volume 14, Issue 1, March 2008

Conservation of the concrete mirrors

When I went on one of the guided walks to the Denge sound mirrors, one of the other vistors was a construction worker who was somewhat critical of the quality of some of the original concrete on the mirrors. I’m not qualified to comment, but Rowan Technologies has some experts on the conservation of concrete.

Case Study #1: Dungeness

English Heritage has commissioned a series of investigative repairs on the mirrors – which are now scheduled as monuments (legal protection specifically for archaeological sites) – that will explore treatments that might be transferable elsewhere. The richly patinated surface of the mirrors is a complex amalgam of weathered aggregate and many varieties of lichen. Chris Wood from English Heritage’s building conservation team is also experimenting with yoghurt to encourage lichen reinstatement. The works were carried out by Rowan Technologies.
Source: The Architects’ Journal, 2008-11-24

Rowan Technologies has this to say:

Conservation Case Studies

The Listening Mirrors, Kent
Like-for-Like Concrete Repairs

The three early warning sound mirrors [at Denge] on the Kent coast were built using reinforced concrete in the late 1920s and the early 1930s to detect the distant sounds of enemy aircraft approaching from over the English Channel. The reinforced concrete has deteriorated in the marine environment and many parts of the structure are suffering from corrosion of the reinforcements and the delamination of the concrete cover.

Rowan Technologies undertook a series of trials of various repair and rehabilitation methods to assess their suitability for these monuments. This included ‘model’ patch repairs of the damaged concrete on a like-for-like basis, to achieving a similar texture and surface finish to the original
Source: Rowan Technologies Ltd