A slice of Jaipur'sroyal past will come to life once again in the bustling seaside town of Brighton when the 120-year-old Jaipur Gateway outside the Hove Museum is restored and opened to public this week.
The Jaipur Gateway is a much loved prominent landmark in Brighton'scultural life. It was built and carved in 1886 for the Maharaja of Jaipur, who had
commissioned it as a gift for Queen Victoria and had sent it to the Colonial India Exhibition in London in 1886.
When the exhibition closed, it was transferred to London'sImperial Institute. In 1927, when the Hove Museum opened, the institute'sdirector, Sir William Furse, gave the gate as a gift.
The ornate structure of marble and sandstone?eight intricately carved columns and rectangular roof topped by a large onion-shaped cupola?is similar in design and structure as the many that dot the Pink City of Jaipur.
Final touches are being given to the painstaking 16-month restoration work before opening it to the public. The gate, classified as a Grade II-listed building, had fallen into disrepair because, as experts say, it was never made to withstand inclement British weather.
Decades of exposure took their toll and a building survey in 2003 discovered that the inside of the structure had rotted away. It was then declared unsafe to the public and shored up with scaffolding.
Gary Appleton of the Green Oak Carpentry Company, hired to restore the gate, told the Brighton media: ?There were no proper facilities for water to drain away at all. We took the engraved panels off the front of one of the columns and discovered there was nothing behind them at all, the entire inside had rotted away. The roof was also in very bad condition.? Restoration involved taking the structure apart piece by piece, carefully referencing and labelling each one before transporting them to the workshop, repairing each part and then putting it all back together.
Appleton said: ?The worst part was probably getting out all the steel screws holding it together. They had swelled and corroded inside the wood. There were about 1,500 and we had to drill them all out individually.?
He added: ?The best part of the project was seeing it finally go back up. It'sa fantastic structure and we have really enjoyed giving it the proper repair it deserved.?
Chris Chapman, building surveyor for Brighton and Hove City Council, said: ?It'sa Grade II listed monument and a registered artefact. It'sessential that it comes back.
?The possibility that it could be lost forever is not an option?.
(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on [email protected])