Port Arthur’s most emblematic ruin, the Penitentiary has been the focus of major conservation works for the better part of 2014. The engineering project, which costs in excess of $7 million dollars, will ensure that the ruin, once the largest building in Tasmania, will endure for generations to come. A critical and much anticipated milestone in the project will be realised tomorrow and will provide quite a spectacle as the largest of a series of steel columns wind their way down to Port Arthur on the Arthur Highway.
The series of 14 steel columns has been manufactured in Kingston, Tasmania by Saunders & Ward. The largest of these columns, being 12 metres in length weighs 4.8 tonne and has seen a local manufacturing workforce of 20 employees contributing to the conservation of the Penitentiary, which is a familiar feature of the World Heritage Listed site.
Project Manager Lucy Burke Smith said, “The columns are part of a suite of engineering interventions which will ensure the stability of the remnant walls and reinterpret the internal spaces differently from that of the past 30 years and will enhance the visitor experience.”
“We are deploying staff to capture the spectacle of these enormous structures arriving on Site which will undoubtedly be a vision like no other seen here at Port Arthur – there is a strong sense of anticipation and excitement among the team.”
The project, due for completion in December this year, is an excellent example of the ongoing conservation works to the Port Arthur Historic Site and how we combine progressive engineering practice with excellence in conservation.