Tower restoration – what is happening?

By January 11, 2021 No Comments


Scaffolding the 124-foot tower on all four sides is now complete, allowing the important conservation work to begin. This is a once in a lifetime project planned to finish in June. I can imagine you have been wondering what is happening as you see the scaffold head skyward; here is a brief summary of the work involved.

Most of the work is focussed on the bell chamber (or belfry), particularly the limestone traceries, these being the ornate stonework frames around the upper parts of louvred openings, which you can clearly see from ground level on all four sides, high in the tower. Some of this magnesian limestone will be removed, cleaned, re-pinned and reset, but where the weather has caused significant erosion, creating displacement risks, new locally quarried limestone is being cut and dressed as a full replacement. There are other areas of stonework to the external tower walls, again where climatic conditions have caused localised erosion and cracking, which are to be removed and replaced with new ashlar, finely dressed surface stone, to match that already in place.

The level of activity of conservators in and around the bell chamber makes it necessary to silence the bells, for both the hourly chime and the four-hourly carillon. There is a myriad of wires, cables, pulleys and springs which are carefully anchored across the whole of the bell chamber, necessary for the bells to be struck from the carillon. This complicated assembly, which is over 100 years old, is to be made secure before the internal work starts. Additionally, being in the bell chamber when the bells ring out is painfully noisy, with sound levels far too high to afford the conservators the level of safety they need. For these reasons the bells must remain silent for the length of this project.

I hope this gives you an insight of this important and necessary work which is currently being undertaken.

Phil Beavers


Fabric Committee.