From December 2015
All images are copyright Ian Povey
Week 35: w/c 4th January 2016
The site was re-mobilised on the 4 January, following the Christmas break. No issues were noted in relation to break-ins or thefts. Nick Sharland returned to site, following his leave and will be with the project until completion. This is very pleasing as he has done an excellent job, so far.
As mentioned in the previous report (w/c 14 December 2015), small rust stains were noted on the restored weathervanes. Nick Sharland was unaware of these potential defects and no further actions had been taken by the contractor. The weathervanes were inspected with Nick Sharland and one other operative. It was noted that the rust staining had worsened over the Christmas break. It had been suggested that the staining could have been caused by grinding sparks, however this was discounted as there no burn marks. It has also been noted that the two skins of metal, making up the vane, are delaminating, allowing water to settle and cause corrosion. The project architect was contacted to inform them of the deterioration of the weather vanes. Formal notice of defective works was issued to the contractor.
SSHC took immediate action and arranged for their subcontractor to visit. This was undertaken and the weather vanes removed and taken back to the workshops for remedial works. Further information is awaited, at this point.
Piecing in of new stone continues, mainly on the string course at higher level. The largest new piece has now been installed, which makes up part of the string course, below the parapets. This is where the new face will be carved in the coming weeks.
A quotation has been received from SSHC for the additional cleaning works, under the arch. This has been presented to the PCC, for approval. The project quantity surveyor was also contacted, to ensure the project budget can withstand the additional expense. This has been approved by the quantity surveyor. PCC approval is awaited.
Damage to a gravestone, adjacent to St Lawrence, reported by SSHC. It has been stated that this was not undertaken by a SSHC operative. Church Office contacted and the details of the damage passed on to the Town Council.
Week 36: w/c 11th January 2016
Andrew Salter has now joined the project team, as project architect. Andrew is head of conservation at Acanthus Clews, so the project is in good hands. Piecing in of new stone continues, with the last pieces, from the pre-Christmas delivery. A new delivery had been made on Thursday morning.
Some additional mortar repairs had been undertaken, to the faces of the buttresses, to build up the existing carved detailing. It is also proposed to shelter coat some areas of the carving. This is basically a thick paint, made from lime and stone dust, which is painted on to exposed areas. This will provide additional protection from the elements. Final positions are to be selected by the project architect.
A hardback copy of a new book – Evesham Abbey Bell Tower by George and Toni Demidowicz (published with the help of the Vale of Evesham Historical Society) – was issued to Richard Brook to express our gratitude for his assistance throughout the project and to wish him the best for his new job.
A project meeting was held on the 14 January. A new completion date of the end of February 2016 has been stated as the new completion date. It was stated that 70% of the new carving has been undertaken. Instruction issued to SSHC for the additional cleaning works, under the arch. Approval obtained by the PCC.
SSHC were contacted in relation to providing a quotation for the redecoration of the rainwater downpipes and railings. They have declined to quote, however they are happy to allow access to other sub-contractors, to undertake the works.
Report received from IronArt, relating to the weathervanes. It has been stated that joints were not sealed properly, prior to gilding, therefore allowed water to get in contact with the metal. The vanes are to be stripped, sealed and re-gilded. As this is remedial works, there will be no additional cost.
Week 37: w/c 18th January 2016
The Project Manager Ian Povey met Alan Simcox, recently-appointed as church architect for Evesham PCC, to show works being undertaken. Alan will responsible of looking after the building in the future, as part of a quinquennial inspection (that is, every five years). Whilst the building is scaffolded, it provided an excellent opportunity to familiarise himself with the building. Nick Sharland also showed Alan around the works, to explain the processes that had been used. Alan seemed very happy with the works that have been undertaken.
Although the weather has calmed a lot, the temperature has dropped considerably. The temperature was recorded at minus six degrees on Wednesday 20 January. As a result, no mortar repairs, or piecing in could be undertaken. However, site stone carving has been undertaken, as it does not involve any water-based materials. Three carvings had been had been undertaken, for decorative mouldings, on the pinnacles. Previous stone piecing-in and mortar repairs checked at the top of the tower. All found to be OK. A new delivery had been received on site.
On 22 January, the SSHC workshops were visited by the Churchwarden, Helen Gray. The workshops are based in a small village, just south of Wells, in Somerset. We were able to witness the Sell Tower’s new stone being carved, and meet the stonemasons who have been undertaking the carving. Their workshops are modest but the work that is being produced is of a very high standard. We were also able to see carvings from other churches, including Trowbridge and Wells Cathedral.
Another brief inspection was undertaken on 22 January, where it is was noted that the carving of the face had been undertaken. Currently it has only been viewed from ground level, but it looks impressive. This was undertaken by one person, in one day.
Instruction issued by the project architect to cover the additional works that have been previously approved. An updated Financial Report is awaited from the project quantity surveyor to confirm the project’s healthy financial position.
Really good to see the news stone being carved, on site and also at the workshops. It has also been good to see that the work has continued, even though the temperatures have dropped.
Week 38: w/c 25th January 2016
The weather has warmed slightly to above freezing, therefore a full; inspection of the works was undertaken with Nick Sharland, to check for any failures in mortar works. No defective repairs were found.
A close inspection of the carved face was undertaken. This is a work of art and is hard to believe it only took a day to complete. The stonemason, who undertook the carving has promised to send through a copy of the sketches that were prepared, beforehand.
The project architect undertook visit to discuss the amounts of shelter coating. SSHC concerned that this did not encompass enough and would leave areas susceptible to decay. Information has been requested to ascertain whether larger amounts of shelter coating can be undertaken, within our budget. The project architect is to liaise with SSHC amount increasing scope.
Stone piecing-in has commenced again, following the cold weather and is being protected using heavy duty blankets. Another stone delivery is expected next week. Work still progressing well, with the potential ‘end of February’ completion date looking likely.