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19 Oct 2018

Drying out water damage

A view of the grand entrance to Newhailes House, with two pink flowering blossom trees either side of the main building. A gravel drive sweeps up to the entrance staircase.
Newhailes House is an elegant mansion on the outskirts of Musselburgh
We are carrying out recovery work at Newhailes House after recent flood damage.

Like all property owners, sometimes the National Trust for Scotland has to call the emergency plumber. This is what happened at Newhailes House earlier this year when a flood was discovered.

Our emergency protocols kicked in and the water was stopped and the collections removed really quickly, which meant that the damage was minimal.

An enormous red rug lies on a plastic sheet on the front lawn of Newhailes House. A white van is parked on the drive next to the house, and some furniture items also stand on the plastic sheet beside the van.
Quickly removing the collections meant that damage was kept to a minimum.

Responding to an incident like this, even when the damage is limited, takes time and expertise from all over the Trust. There are lots of decisions to be made – everything from the best way of drying out delicate textiles to how to re-route visitors.

Newhailes House has had a busy summer season, with the clean-up effort carrying on behind the scenes. The work took a significant step forward this month with the return of almost 600 books to the house, some of which date back to the 1600s.

After being frozen and preserved by one of the country’s most respected book conservators, the books have been safely returned in acid-free cardboard boxes to the house and will now be left to acclimatise at their original home of Newhailes.

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“I’m particularly ecstatic by the return of the books, as the collection contains an original of one of my all-time favourites – The Gentle Shepherd. I studied the book when I completed my History of Art degree at Edinburgh University, and there is an original of it here from 1790!”
Pat Wigston, Conservation Manager

Since the flood, the carpets have been removed to be frozen and cleaned, and the floorboards have been taken up and replaced. Ongoing tasks include restoration of the textile collection and the ceiling of the Chinese Sitting Room.

A lady wearing purple conservation gloves carefully places old books onto a shelf.
Pat Wigston places the conserved books back on the shelf in Newhailes House.

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