Graffiti Removal – St Pauls Cathedral

The Challenge

There are two types of graffiti. On the one hand, you have the new wave of artists that use their talents in creative ways, often to convey powerful messages and social commentary. Banksy, of course, is the most famous example but there are plenty of other street artists out there that are expressing themselves via this medium. You may often find entire areas of our cities that have been brightened up with this form of art, even making them desirable tourist attractions in many cases.

Then there is the other kind of graffiti – the vandalism. A great blight on cities all over the UK, we all too often see beautiful buildings completely ruined by mindless tagging and indiscriminate scribbles. It sucks the life out of an area, and will often encourage other vandals to add their input – before you know it, everywhere is covered.

This is bad enough when it happens in any area, but when the target of graffiti is a building that is of significant cultural, historical and religious importance, it is incredibly important that the situation is addressed as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. If you are in a similar situation, we recommend contacting a professional graffiti removal company to attend and remediate the affected areas sooner rather than later.

St Paul's Cathedral
Credit: Sergey Ishkhanov from Google

When the Clerk of the Works of St Paul’s Cathedral was alerted to an ‘extensive’ graffiti attack on the building recently, they knew that they needed to act quickly. Their first job was to call the police – graffiti is, of course, an offence and the authorities had to be alerted. The Police took the forensic evidence that they needed from the scene.

Now the priority was to get the graffiti removed. They needed a company to come and get the job done as quickly as possible, but they also needed a company that would respect and protect the building to the highest possible standards.

They called Ideal Response.

The Ideal Solution

When we received the call we knew that we had to act fast. There are few more recognisable, and important, buildings in the country, and we knew that we had to get to work as quickly as possible. Due to the offensive nature of the vandalism, time really was of the essence.

With that in mind, our team was at the scene within two hours of the call from the Clerk of the Works, much to their delight. We were shown to the areas that needed our attention so that we could see the extent of the damage. As you can see from the photos, there was a lot of work that needed to be done.

It was here that we ran into a major problem – there was no water supply available on site. For, what we are pretty sure is the first time, we have Charles II and Christopher Wren to thank for our solution…

Ideal Response logo

During the rebuilding in the wake of the Great Fire of London, extra water hydrants were installed to protect the Cathedral in the event of future fires. It was one of these hydrants, or at least their modern replacements, that we were able to use for our water supply to start our work.

Now it was time to utilise our industry-leading DOFF Steam Cleaning system. We chose this system because of the delicate nature of this, nearly 350-year-old, building. The DOFF system relies purely upon water – no chemicals at all – albeit at high temperatures (up to 150°C), which makes it perfect when you want to ensure that you aren’t causing any damage to the building.

In order to get to the affected areas that were high up, the Cathedral kindly provided us with some scaffolding, which made our job much easier. We were then able to use our specialist equipment at full capacity.

In order to remove every trace of graffiti, we applied paint remover by hand to small areas of more stubborn paint that had been splashed up the exterior walls. Again, the scaffolding came in handy here.

St Pauls Cathedral Graffiti Removal
St Pauls Cathedral graffiti

The Result

With jobs like this, it really helps to let the pictures do the talking. As you can see from the before and after photos, after we had completed the job, there was no trace of the graffiti at all. Our client was clearly impressed:

“Ben and Ollie did a fantastic job, to a point where there is absolutely no sign of the graffiti having been there. Highly recommend this service.”

True to their word, they have since recommended us to other local churches and cathedrals.

It is immensely satisfying to do a good job and please a client – when we can help to preserve one of our country’s most treasured buildings on top of that, it feels wonderful.

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