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Cleaning Britain's Greatest Treasures

Duration: 2 x 52'

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This fascinating series follows the dedicated work of conservation cleaners who look after our national treasures, including carriages from the Golden Age of Steam, Beatrix Potter’s lost treasures, a Constable painting, and a taxidermy collection.

At locations ranging from stately homes and museums to historic churches and industrial revolution factories, they show us the special tools, techniques and tricks of the trade they use to clean and preserve all sorts of historical artefacts. As they work, they share their passion and insights into the objects and their original owners as well as fascinating little known gems of history… and sometimes they even solve their mysteries!

Each episode follows the cleaners at three different locations and stories include the mystery behind a Constable masterpiece that may be solved by cleaning it; a glorious mantelpiece display restoration at Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop Farmhouse in the Lake District; the extremely delicate cleaning of Queen Victoria’s silk laden 1869 Railway Carriage; finding out how to clean the fragile Portland limestone carvings of a London church… and how to clean a pile of antique sand that is threatening a taxidermy collection.



In this episode of the cleaners take on the fastest and slowest railway carriages of the Golden Age of Steam, so fragile and precious that they can only be entered four times a year. In the Lake District, a recently discovered photograph inspires the restoration of an 1812 mantelpiece display a display of Beatrix Potter’s lost treasures that requires weeks of meticulous expert cleaning. And in Marylebone, the fragile Portland stone carvings of a church once frequented by Charles Dickens get what may be their first ever deep clean.



In this episode, the cleaners of a huge John Constable oil painting of Waterloo Bridge try solve its 200 year old mystery as they spend months slowly cleaning away the grime and the varnish. The fight is on against an invasion of pests in the important taxidermy collection of Wallington’s amazing Cabinet of Curiosity. And, at one of the greatest surviving Victorian textile mills, two of the complex, fragile machines are taken apart for a deep clean, revealing how these amazing machines work and can still produce cotton today.


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