Concern raised over oil plan for York Minster

Andrew Arrol, the surveyor of the fabric at York Minster, examines stonework high up on the east end of the landmark after concerns were raised about olive oil being used as waterproof coating

Andrew Arrol, the surveyor of the fabric at York Minster, examines stonework high up on the east end of the landmark after concerns were raised about olive oil being used as waterproof coating

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by

OFFICIALS at York Minster have expressed concern that listed buildings could be damaged if people attempt to use olive oil as a waterproof coating in a bid to protect them.

Following reports in national newspapers that olive oil was to be used to cover the magnesian limestone of the historic York landmark, architect Andrew Arrol said he had received several phone calls from concerned members of the public, and English Heritage.

Mr Arrol, whose official title is surveyor of the fabric at the Minster, said: “We are worried because people have been contacting us asking if we’re really sure about it.

“We’re worried that members of the public in listed buildings might take it as an idea and damage buildings or artefacts.”

The Press reported in December that researchers at Cardiff University were developing a technique to apply a layer of fatty acids, derived from olive oil, to limestone.

Researchers believe this micron-thick layer of fat should form a waterproof coating which would stop rain getting in, but allow salts and moisture to escape, ensuring protection, but ensuring the stone does not become brittle and erode.

Mr Arrol said the reports in the national papers over-simplified the research, which led to the panicked phone calls, and he wanted to set the record straight.

He said: “We welcome scientific exploration and are commissioning it all the time, but this is just one interesting development.

“Everyone’s looking for the magic thing to stop water going into stone but allowing it to breathe. Whoever discovers it, we will be grateful to them and this could be a step in the right direction.”

Chris Wood, from English Heritage, said: “We are aware of the enthusiastic reception that this research has generated in the national press and would be absolutely delighted if a very simple solution to the problem of conserving magnesian limestone could be found.

“Unfortunately, our research and experience over the years and that of a great many international experts has shown that this is very complicated and great care is needed.

“Indeed, the solution claimed by the researchers from their laboratory tests may end up causing more harm to the existing stone once exposed to the harsh environment several hundreds of feet up on the Minster.”

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:17am Fri 11 Jan 13

Woody G Mellor says...

Now they tell us! I've just ordered 400 gallons of Olivio in the hope of preserving the west-wing library.
Now they tell us! I've just ordered 400 gallons of Olivio in the hope of preserving the west-wing library. Woody G Mellor
  • Score: 0

10:47am Fri 11 Jan 13

Blimp says...

Ha ha Woody!

Brilliant, love it! More please.
Ha ha Woody! Brilliant, love it! More please. Blimp
  • Score: 0

11:48am Fri 11 Jan 13

sheps lad says...

Blimp, you're getting very talkative lately!
Blimp, you're getting very talkative lately! sheps lad
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree