29th Sep, 2021

Destroyed replica Queen's wedding cake restored by genius Warwick University 3D scanning technology

Ian Hughes 18th Feb, 2017

A WEDDING cake presented to The Queen and Prince Philip has been saved for the nation thanks to cutting-edge technology employed at the University of Warwick.

A replica of one of the wedding cakes – made for the then Princess Elizabeth’s 1947 marriage to the Prince Philip – was all but destroyed by vandals in 2015 after they broke into where it was being kept in London.

Professor Mark Williams at Warwick Manufacturing Group, alongside the British Sugarcraft Guild (BSG), employed 3D scanning technology to recreate a full-sized replica of the six tier cake. The technology was able to accurately scan the cake to within 0.1mm and reproduce a high-resolution 3D model that was then used to digitally repair the cake.

Analysing the surviving parts of the cake – an intricate 6ft ensemble – Professor Williams was able to discover exactly how it was formed, and to determine precisely how to restore its original grandeur.

The historic cake – which was originally created by Bermondsey firm Peek Frean – weight 600lb and at the top stood a silver model of St George and the Dragon, which was given to the royal couple as a souvenir.

Queen Elizabeth wrote how she and Prince Philip “admired the beauty of its design and the excellence of its quality.”

The life-sized model was displayed in the Peek Frean factory until its closure in 1989. A permanent exhibition about the company later opened in a South-East London museum – of which the cake was a major part – although during a change of premises, the cake was left behind, as it was too delicate and precious to transport. Then the vandals struck.

Professor Mark Williams said: “It was fantastic to apply our technology to such an exciting project and help restore such an iconic cake to its former glory, especially in the year of the Queen’s Golden Anniversary.

“Usually we are working on engineering-related challenges, so to be able to take our expertise and transfer that to something totally different and so historically significant was a really interesting opportunity.”

The tiers of the cake were distributed to the seven BSG regions last Autumn together with the materials, templates and plans for the relevant tier. Initial coating of the cakes has been completed and the cakes are now ready for the start of the detailed decoration.

BSG members’ workshops are taking place around Britain, including the Midlands, during March. Piped trellis and flowers, moulded side panels and other detailed decoration will be produced during these workshops.

A small team from the BSG will do the final assembly of the cake at the new Peek Frean museum in the late summer.

BSG national vice chair Judith Lynn added: “The experience of working with WMG at the University of Warwick in creating the 3D models to enable the moulded elements of the cake to be reproduced has been very rewarding. It illustrates perfectly how modern technology and traditional crafts can work in harmony to recreate such an important historic piece of sugar art.”

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