Asbestos and French Polishing

The company who surveyed the theatre with a view to cleaning it were worried that the decorative hardboard tiles at the back of the theatre were in fact asbestos. I assured them they were hardboard and showed them a broken section which clearly showed its layered construction. “Ah, but it still might contain asbestos – many things did in the 50s”

The result was that they went back to the Insurance company and asked for an asbestos survey. The testing company arrived today and planned to be all day doing a “full invasive survey” – which means taking small samples of everything = woodwork, floor tiles, curtains, plaster on the walls, everything in the auditorium, backstage, in the toilets and foyer. I did not like this and said so. After all this was for someone to clean the theatre, not pull it down.

After a number of phone calls between the two companies, and myself with the insurance, we finally settled on a non-invasive inspection which was largely visual with an element of presumption, For example that wood panelling looks like wood therefore I can assume that it is wood and isn’t concealing an underlayer of asbestos. I agreed that they could take a sample of the suspect tiles. This involved the guy donning full protective gear and sealing off the room while he removed a small sample and tested it.

It was hardboard.

Meanwhile I had another visitor, a French Polishing Company from Stafford. They had been sent to give an estimate for cleaning the seats. This chap was very informative, but gave me the distinct impression that my hopes for an October half term reopening were pretty unlikely.

He did mention some royalty and celebrity work he had been involved with. I thought I was being funny when I asked if he had worked for the Queen in her annus horribilis.  “You mean the Windsor fire?” he asked. “Oh yes, I did quite a lot of sub contract work for that.”

Sounds expensive to me!


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