Experts are set to dig 23 boreholes into the Palace of Westminster to assess essential restoration work may need to be done to preserve the 150-year-old building.
Some of the boreholes could reach up to 70 metres in depth as part of an extensive programme of building investigations that was commissioned by the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme.
Previous ground investigations over the past few decades have uncovered an array of historical artefacts, including a centuries-old sword and buried fragments of King Henry III’s high table.
Elsewhere, 160 rooms across Parliament will be inspected by surveyors as part of the investigations.
They will lift up floorboards, carefully drill into walls and remove ceiling panels to look at a range of issues such as wall cavities, the material makeup of the building and the weight-bearing of historic flooring.
Specialist teams will then continue to inspect the hundreds of miles of interconnected power cables, gas, water and heating pipes as well as outdated water and sewerage systems.
The various surveys are planned to begin from July 2022 and will continue over the next 12 to 18 months.
‘Critical to preserving historic Parliament’
David Goldstone, CEO of the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said: “Our experts are carrying out the most detailed-ever surveys of the Palace of Westminster, which will be critical to informing decisions about the essential restoration to preserve our historic Parliament buildings.”
In March, the Commissions of both Houses of Parliament met to discuss the future of the Restoration and Renewal Programme following concerns over the growing costs and timescales of the existing approach, as well as programme governance.
They made an agreement to preserve the Palace, and to seek independent advice and assurance on the new approach to the works.