40 Years of Tankerdale

May 15th, 2017

Tankerdale EST 1977

John and Hugh at the workshop in 2008


Tankerdale Ltd. was established by Hugh Routh and John Hartley in 1977 and this year celebrates its
40th birthday. Four decades on, now just with John since Hugh retired in 2012, our team are still
doing some of the most specialist and high quality furniture conservation work in the country at
our workshops near Petersfield in Hampshire, where this summer we will be raising a glass
to the next 40 years of Tankerdale. 


Celebrating in the sunshine

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Before Christmas Julie Chang, a PHD student at UCL, and Shayne Rivers, an independent conservator specialising in lacquer,  came to the Tankerdale workshop to discuss and tell the story of the Chinese lacquer screen from Powis Castle in Wales. Gareth Sandham, Powis’ House and Collections Manager, also attended to film Julie explaining what the story depicted on the screen meant. 

Julie told us that the panels show the story of General Guo Ziyi’s 80th birthday celebrations. He was a highly celebrated general during the Tang dynasty who lived to the great age of 86 (697-781) and because of this is a symbol of longevity. The scenes of celebration show figures playing traditional musical instruments and drinking which can also symbolise prosperity. His story was popular during the Ming and Qing dynasties as he also symbolised luck, wealth and fame.  

It is possible that this piece was originally made for the domestic Chinese market rather then for export as the imagery would have held much significance and importance for a Chinese patron or owner. The screen is currently dated from between the late 17th and early 18th, the story  was very popular during the Huangsi Emperor’s reign of the same period. This is also the period in which Chinese lacquer was being exported to Europe. 


Longleat II

November 28th, 2016


Team work! Lin and Sophie applying, feathering and blending the watercolour.


The team at Tankerdale have been working on the latest set of Longleat panels. The splits in the panel have been filled and the marquetry work repaired; now we are trying to restore colour back into the sun bleached wood. 

Firstly the old colour and polish is stripped from the panels to leave them bare. A watercolour mixture is then used; the “recipe” of which was formulated years ago at the workshop when the first set of panels were worked on. Using the same colour mixture ensures continuity throughout, with no or very little variation in the colour of the panels year to year. 

The watercolour is feathered and blended in seamlessly with the wood; this colour is then removed from the sections of the boxwood marquetry to give contrast to the different timbers. The colour is then sealed in with shellac polish leaving them with a deep, rich colour. All of the finished work will then be returned to Longleat on our annual trip to be reinstated back into the state rooms, where they can be fully appreciated once again. We will then dismantle the next set of doors and panels to be worked on at the workshop. 


Before and after treatment.