The enormous scaffold structure which for many months completely engulfed the central part of the historic East Front of the mansion enabled the second main contract of the emergency works programme to be carried out by heritage specialists from Robert Woodhead Ltd.
This formed the largest part of the Treasury-funded emergency works project. It included the replacement of roofs and repairs to high-level stone work, statues and urns.
The scaffold also allowed the Trust to give visitors a unique experience – an opportunity to see Wentworth Woodhouse from on-high and witness heritage craftspeople at work. The Trust’s guided roof top tours were a major draw and attracted thousands of visitors.
Providing public access to conservation projects while works are in progress is rare. It required a huge amount of pre-planning involving many agencies from external health and safety consultants, the Fire Brigade, the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, contractors and Historic England.

Roof Scaffolders / Photo by Steve Mettam
Rooftop Tour / Photo by Steve Mettam

Scaffolding Facts

A bespoke scaffolding and temporary roof was constructed by subcontractors Lyndon SGB to protect the building during the conservation works. This required close collaboration between Lyndon SGB, contractors Robert Woodhead Ltd, architects Donald Insall Associates and specialist consultants including structural engineers.
As the house is Grade I listed, the scaffolding could not be attached to the building. Instead, it was secured to the ground with platipus anchors, designed to splay out to prevent the scaffolding from lifting off the floor in heavy winds. Friction ties were used to tie the scaffolding to the walls and extra strength given to the scaffolding structure through doubled-up fittings.

The scaffold has been described as a blend of art, science and engineering. It took two months to plan and was installed by up to ten technicians per day over a three-month period.
The structure used approximately 700 tonnes and 50,000 linear metres of scaffolding poles. Laid end to end vertically they would be 5.5 times taller than Mount Everest.
The scaffold reached a height of 30 metres at the roof apexas high as six double-decker buses – and cost £1.2m.