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Dry dock under the glass sea

It’s that time of year again – the beetles are back!

Every spring the Dry Dock receives a visit from some unwanted guests, and they aren’t there to admire the 170 year old hull. These pesky troublemakers are Wharf Borer Beetles who lay their eggs in the original timber which support the floor of the dock. The beetles’ larvae feed off the old wood leaving large holes and tunnels throughout.

When the ss Great Britain was being built in 1839/40, the floor of the dock began to buckle under the strain. A decision was taken to insert wooden timber supports to strengthen the dock floor. These timbers have been there ever since and must be preserved as historical artefacts.

So it is down to our dedicated curatorial team to seek out and remove these beetles before they lay their eggs. Insecticides and various sprays and powders have all been tried but to no avail. Instead they have to be evicted by hand! The numbers decrease every year which suggests that we are winning the battle, however the war goes on...