How? more about the complicated job to remove the wall

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Fred Brookes: ‘As the job progressed the weather, which had been good, worsened and we had heavy rain during all the vital stages of the removal…’
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Removal wall with steel frame

Wall hauled by men to the lorry
3.Leaving Cylinders 1965.

The Merzbarn was made up of a thick layer of plaster applied to the dry stone wall.
The wall could not be dismantled but had to be moved in its entirety. To this end the wall had to be cast in concrete in situ.

The walls in this region consist of loose rubble sandwiched between two vertical layers of slate. The outer slate layer had therefore to be carefully broken up and the loose rubble removed. But first the bank behind the wall was dug out as part of the removal process to make the outer leaf of the wall accessible and to create a level space for the work to take place.

Finally the wall was framed in a steel construction and a gantry was built on site to hoist the wall, which by now weighed 25 tons, and place it on a low loader.

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Heading for installation 1965
Wall being raised 1966
6. Installation, 1966
Alcove, exterior. 2008
8. Alcove with skylight
Wall, Hatton Gallery 2008

Despite dreadful conditions, with heavy rain and wind, the Merzbarn-wall began its tricky journey to Newcastle in late September 1965.

Its transport to Newcastle took two days. Upon its arrival at Newcastle the wall was laid flat and a shed was built around it for temporary protection whilst construction work on the new Hatton Gallery continued alongside.
On the 20st June 1966 the wall was hoisted 40 ft into the air by a crane with an extending arm and gently lowered through an opening in the gallery roof into an alcove specially designed to receive it.
A small corner above the alcove was left open so that the daylight shone through obliquely, thus reproducing as closely as possible its original position in the barn.

Unfortunately, the cage was slightly too wide for the opening and Fred Brookes was forced to slice off a small section of the wall, which was later replaced. The Merzbarn wall was than restored, given a special treatment to conserve it and then put on public display.

The operation was initiated by Richard Hamilton and supervised by Fred Brookes, then a 22 year-old art student at Newcastle University. The work took three months.

>  Time schedule

Download Fred Brookes report (pdf)