Behind the scenes: the conservation studio

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at Surrey History Centre?

If you've had the opportunity to join a tour of the centre, the highlight of your visit may well have been the conservation studio. Here our two conservators work wonders in treating and repairing unique and delicate historical documents, damaged by the ravages of damp, mould, fire, over-handling and misguided amateur repairs.

The conservation studioThis photograph is a general view of our state-of-the art conservation studio, the hub of our operations, containing the apparatus and materials essential to our work. The room is light, spotlessly clean and well-ventilated and its temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. You can see in the foreground, an extensive selection of specialist papers and other materials which are used to match the requirements of the medium of records being preserved. On the left Jeff, one of our conservators, works on a damaged document using a lightbox built into the desk. On the right an enormous wall-mounted lightbox is designed for the repair of large maps.

Specialist equipment in the conservation studioThis photograph provides a closer view of some of the specialist equipment including a board chopper, a press, a vacuum table for processes including parchment repair and stain removal, with a humidification chamber to relax badly creased or tightly rolled records, and sinks for washing dirty documents.