Restoration is a long process, it takes time and a lot of energy. Here is what we have done since 1992!
The Fortress was suffering from many years of neglect when the Karori Lions entered it in 1988. Their first task was to clear up the accumulated mess and provide improved security for the site. The first Open Day, on 25 April 1989 (ANZAC Day), was more successful than any had hoped. Following it the lighting throughout the Fortress was improved and the floor in War Shelter One was replaced.
The Restoration Society formed in 1992 to take over responsibility for the work. In the following years it has completed many projects, some very long term, and made considerable advances on the many others. There is still a long way to go, even so. Here are some highlights from the past and future:
The Restoration Work We Have Done
This was a very important project, as the room was lined with asbestos and occupied by the Post Office who used it in the late 1950’s & 1960’s. To make the room safe,a specialist asbestos removal company were employed. As they worked, they had to remove the floor and the only timber wall. These were replaced with new materials by the Society members,and painted in the original colour scheme. The room now houses a display of period radio and associated equipment.
The site receives a lot of rain, and is tunneled through a porous rock type. This requires a drainage system, which runs below the tunnel floors, with sumps spaced at regular intervals. Over the years these sumps had become filled with soil, rocks and other detritus. All of the sumps have been cleared and covered. The gutters have also been fitted with new grilles. An ongoing project is seeing that the covers are kept in good repair, and replaced when no longer serviceable.
Bearing Marks In Number One Gun Pit
Each gun pit was marked with a protractor around its rim. This was aligned so that 0 degrees pointed North, as with a compass, but was used to point the gun in the required direction. This gave the horizontal bearing when laying the gun. These marks have been repainted by the diligent efforts of a member, over several months, and now form an important visual feature of the Gun Pit.
Restoration Work We Need To Do
War Shelter Number One
As our main entrance, War Shelter One has been brought up to a good standard, and fitted out with display boards showing photos, articles, and documents from the past and present. While there are still some finishing tasks to be done, restoration here is mostly complete. The floor and internal walls have been replaced, the internal doors have been refitted or replaced. All of the walls, timber and concrete, have been painted. The roof has been covered with a waterproof membrane on the outside.
The Fortress was provided with its own power station. This was located in the Engine Room, along with a workshop for maintenance. At present the room is being repainted and the Engines are being restored. There were two Ruston Hornsby 6VCR units, which drove a pair of 120 kW generators, and a Ruston Hornsby 4VRO unit driving a 22 kW generator. For now we are concentrating on the 4VRO as it is mostly complete, apart from damage by vandals. The larger 6VCR units are missing pistons, connecting rods and many other parts. One activity here is the location of replacement parts.
Over the years a considerable number of minor leaks have developed. Most are along seams in the concrete tunnel walls where water seeps out. These can be sealed using a proprietary product called Vandex, supplied by a local firm. This is a long term project, due to the enormous scale of the task. Each leak must be cleaned of paint and other materials using a grinder, and then several coats of sealer applied. Then it is simply a case of waiting to see if the leak has been plugged. Fortunately there are very few leaks from which water spurts, as these tend to cause rapid erosion of the concrete. The few that do exist are sealed with another version of Vandex.
This tiny room housed the Duty Officer and his assistant. It was originally lined with Pinex over a timber frame. Very little of either lining or frame remains. Convenient from the water proofing point of view, but a severe loss to Architecture. The room would have had an octagonal vertical cross-section, looking in from the door. Once water proofing is complete, the frame will be rebuilt from drawings, and the room rewired. Then a new lining will be installed, followed by the refitting of the one remaining door, and its replacement partner. A display (most likely a diorama) will then be installed.
Repainting Of Tunnels In Number One Area
This has been a large task, not yet fully completed. The tunnels are painted gray from floor to mid way up the wall on each side. From there the walls and roof are white. Ultimately the floors may be returned to their original red. Timber work is gray. Number One Pump Chamber has been painted in the same colour scheme. Number One Magazine will also be painted in a similar way.