Purdys, Dulux & Whiter Shades of Pale: The Hall Beams Part 2 (The Actual Event), 24-26th May 2016


It is some time since I last posted something – apologies.  I think it’s partly owing to where in the story I’m up to.  Even though I’ve been back on Tankerville for half a term now, I’ve probably only been into the old Hall a handful of times.  It’s the room I try to avoid.  A huge irony considering it had been the space I loved most.  But that paint.  The only thing that helps is that, thanks to Giuseppe,  I’m aware it wasn’t just a case of slapping on a coat of Dulux Brilliant White.  As this image shows, a lot of care was taken to get the colour just right.

Wates' photograph of the range of paint samples.
Wates’ photograph of the full range of ceiling paint samples.

Clearly a lot of dabbling went on first.  The large darker area (bottom right) is one coat of water satinwood with the slightly lighter area at its top left painted with two coats of water satinwood.  From the left, on the bottom line the first two sample panels are oil primer, the third water undercoat and the fourth is water satinwood.  The shade gradations work as follows.  First sample column: middle row, oil primer + one coat oil satinwood and top row, oil primer + two coats oil satinwood.  Second sample column: middle row, oil primer + one coat water satinwood and top row, oil primer + two coats water satinwood.  Third sample column: middle row, water undercoat + one coat water satinwood and top row, water undercoat + two coats water satinwood.  Fourth sample column: middle row, two coats water satinwood (no primer or undercoat) and top row, three coats water satinwood.  Ultimately, this latter spec was chosen for the beams.

Close up of the paint samples (above) and the chosen spec (below).
Close up of paint samples (above) & the chosen spec (below).

40-may-26-3-coats-water-satinwood-current-specAs I’ve said before, none of the Wates guys I talk to wanted to be the ones to have to paint the Hall beams white: that job ultimately fell to Purdys.  I guess the best that can be said here is that they made a decent job of it.  Although I didn’t want to see it being done myself, I’m still glad that Giuseppe was on site to document the process.

The Hall doors indicate the work is in progress.
The Hall doors while the work was in progress.

Giuseppe has said to me that the images he took of the Hall ceiling are probably his favourite photos of the whole site renovation.  It is certainly very interesting to see the various stages of the work.  I think I could probably have just about stomached one coat of water satinwood.  It would have produced a mellow barley white effect.  But ’twas not to be.  So, from here, the pictures must do the talking.

Day 1: Purdey's painters set to work on the ceiling from the south end.
The painters begin work from the south end.

40-may-26-hall-paint-640-may-26-hall-paint-740-may-26-hall-paint-5It was a big job, of course.  I believe it took three days in total.  By Day 2, the painters were working on the centre section of the Hall.


By Day 2, they had reached the very centre of the Hall.
By Day 2, work has moved on to the very centre of the Hall.

40-may-26-hall-paint-8The final day, it turns out, was May 26th – the very day Paul Carmichael went ‘undercover’ for me taking the shots I shared in the last post.  Giuseppe’s photos show the same scenes in portrait format.

The newly white Hall ceiling: north end.
The newly painted Hall ceiling: south end.
The north end with extended staging in place.
North end with the extended staging in place.

His most striking image of the roof, however, was a wide-angle shot.


I probably do agree with Giuseppe that you now see the detail of the Hall beams more clearly and at least it’s a creamier white than I’d at first feared.  But you’d hardly expect a member of The Victorian Society – as I am – to like it.  The décor reminds me of the Dulux Dog.

newcastle high school for girls
It’s very smart but surely the Dulux Dog chose the colour?

dulux-dogNow I don’t go into the old Hall much if I can help it.  I just imagine everything in there is still very much as it was.  It helps.  For nothing stays the same forever:  ‘And although my eyes were open/They might just as well’ve been closed./And so it was that later/As the miller told his tale/That her face at first just ghostly/Turned a whiter shade of pale.’


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