Waterford City and County Archives is responsible for the protection and preservation of the archives of Waterford City and County. Archives are the documentary heritage of Waterford and provide evidence of the history and development of the City and County. The City and County Archives protects the archive collections in its care by monitoring its storage areas to ensure the proper temperature and relative humidity levels are maintained, in so far as possible. However, archives are older records which have been stored in less than ideal conditions in the past and have suffered damage as a result of poor storage and handling. Archives have been damaged with water, fire, damp, dirt, insect infestation and mould and require conservation treatment and repair to ensure they can be accessed by people without further damage.

The City and County Archives provides an annual programme of conservation on a priority basis. This means that some archives cannot be made available to the public while they await conservation as the continued exposure and handling would cause further damage. Resources are limited so work can only be carried out a little at a time.

In 2014, Waterford County Archives received a grant under the Heritage Management Grant Scheme 2014 from the Heritage Council. This vital assistance from the Heritage Council provided the opportunity to carry out a conservation project for 3 maps requiring conservation. The maps were sent to the Paper Conservation Studio to a professional conservator for treatment. Conservation treatment is very detailed and precise and the images below give a glimpse into the work that was carried out to conserve these maps for future generations.

The Grand Jury Map was surveyed by William Larkin for Waterford Grand Jury in 1818 to document the County and the roads that were built at the time. This map provides a detailed geographical record of the landscape of Waterford, showing towns and villages, marshy and wooded areas and of course the roads being built by the Grand Jury. The map is very large (1530mmX230mm) and as a result it was stored folded which in turn caused a crack in the middle of the map. The map was also lifting from its backing and there were a number of tears and rips across the map. The map was also stained and there was a lot of dirt that had gathered over the years of use and poor storage.

The conservator, Pat McBride, first brush cleaned the map to remove as much surface dirt as possible. The map is on 8 individual sheets which were then adhered to a canvas backing. The backing was too weak to remove so a facing had to be applied to support the paper in order to remove the canvas backing. Each of the individual sheets were then washed and the old adhesive was carefully removed with a scalpel and then each section was washed again. A new backing was prepared and each section was added to this new backing and the gaps and holes in the original map were infilled and retouched. In order to ensure the ongoing preservation of the map a new storage container was designed and made from heavy grade conservation box board so that the Archives can store the map correctly.

Direct Labour Map - this is a map showing the districts, engineers and project numbers for the Waterford County Council Direct Labour Scheme 1918-1921. It is very significant because it documents the change from contract to direct labour works and also shows works at an important point in the history of the state. At this time Waterford County Council although ostensibly ruled by the British administration under the Local Government Board had resolved to accept governance from the newly formed Dáil Éireann. The map is large (1980mmX1100mm) and consists of 12 sheets adhered to a canvas support with two wooden struts at the top and bottom. It was designed to hang in the Council offices and over the years had gathered considerable dirt. It had also at some point gotten very wet and there was extensive damage to the map as a result. There was also ridging across the map as the paper map lifted and pulled from the canvas backing.

The conservator brush cleaned the map to remove as much of the surfact dirt as possible. The canvas was removed from the back of the map and this exposed the remaining starch based adhesive that was used to add the sheets to the canvas. The sections were carefully removed and each section was washed and the remaining adhesive was slowly and carefully removed. A new backing paper was prepared and the sections were adhered to this backing and any holes and gaps were infilled and retouched. There were significant losses of the map from the edges where they had suffered from water damage and these edges were replaced while retaining as much as possible of the original support. The new elements were toned down to match the surrounding original support. A new storage box was made so that the map can be stored correctly in the Archives. ‌

Helvick Foreshore Map 1912 - Helvick Foreshore Map this map and specification drawing record works carried out on Helvick Foreshore in 1912. The map and specification document the works but also contain detailed notes for the period 1911-1920 from the Board of Trade sanctioning and limiting the works being carried out. This is an important record of the coastal infrastructure of Waterford. This map was particularly badly damaged. It had gotten wet at some stage in the past along the top edge. As a result this area was damaged by mould and the top was breaking into tiny pieces which meant there were parts of the map falling apart any time it was unrolled. The other conservation concern with this map was that while the printed map was stable the additional notes that make the map particularly interesting were not stable - meaning that any washing or cleaning carried out could endanger this information.

The conservator could not unroll this map without causing more damage, so the map was placed in a humidity chamber and humidifier for some time before it could be carefully and slowly unrolled. The map was then placed under suction and the mould stained edge was treated with a solution of ethanol and water. The notes were treated to keep them more stable and the map was then float washed. The map was then sized to strengthen it and tissue was applied to the badly damaged edge. A new lining was applied to the map in Japanese tissue paper and the missing top edge of the map was replaced with Japanese paper.

This considerable conservation work has ensured the preservation of these valuable maps for future generations in Waterford. Waterford City and County Archives is grateful for the work carried out by The Paper Conservation Studio and for the valuable assistance received from the Heritage Council for this project.