From September 2015
All images are copyright Ian Povey
Week 24: w/c 5th October 2015
Hard hat tours were expected to commence this week but, due to low interest, the tour was cancelled. It will be rearranged for later in the month. A separate tour for DAC members has been arranged for the 12th October. The lichen survey report, undertaken a few months ago, was issued by the Project Architect. The report has been forwarded to the PCC and issued to the DAC.
Remedial works were undertaken to the site banners, which had become detached following strong winds. The new town council New Homes Bonus scheme banner has been received and fixed to the hoarding. This has been gratefully acknowledged by the Town Council.
Masonry removal is continuing down the tower elevations. A large amount of defective stone has been removed from buttress faces and string courses. The quality of the stone removal remains very high. Mortar repairs have commenced at the top of the tower, to the pinnacles and parapets. This will fill holes in the stone where water can collect and cause further erosion. Open mortar joints, between the stone, will also be filled.
Thick heavy duty blankets are being placed over the repairs, to protect against the elements. Lime mortar is being used for this process, which is required with the use of natural stone, as it allows the stone to breath and move. Lime mortars are considered as ‘alive’ and require continual care during the curing process. Exposure to water and wind can significantly affect the curing process, so great care is required. The blankets will become a continual feature, until the end of the project, as more repairs are undertaken.
Fly levels have reduced considerably. This has allowed repair works to be undertaken on the timber louvres. Wooden ‘tongues’ between the individual timber sections have been placed back in their grooves and all timber has been coated with 3 coats of linseed oil. The scaffolding and site have been fully cleaned, in preparation for the Hard Hat tours on Monday 12th October. Overall, works are progressing but still needs to move faster if they are to be complete on time.
Week 25: w/c 12th October 2015
Initial hard hat tour was undertaken during the morning of the 5th October. It was attended by 5 people, who have assisted with the fundraising for the project. The weather was excellent and it was a beautiful clear sunny day. The tour was led by Nick Sharland and all who attended were very complimentary of the experience. The tour was also attended by Ian Tustin, editor of the Vale Magazine. It is intended that the Bell Tower conservation project form the basis of their Christmas edition. Ian undertook the photography for the article during his visit; a reporter will be visiting site in the next couple of weeks, to write the article.
During the afternoon of the 5th October 2015, a tour was held for three members of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). The tour was attended by the Project Architect and SSHC’s Contracts Manager. DAC members were very complimentary of the works that have been undertaken and the project team was able to answer any questions that arose. Masonry removal is continuing down the tower elevations. A majority of the defective stone finials, located on the buttresses, have been removed. Mortar repairs are continuing at the top of the tower. The initial repairs that were undertaken have cured suitably to allow the blankets to be removed. Initial results look excellent.
Smiths of Derby were onsite at the latter part of the week, to undertake the gilding for the new numerals. The bell tower clock is quite rare, in the fact that the vast majority of clocks with roman numerals use ‘IIII’ to signify ‘4’. The Bell Tower clock uses ‘IV’ to signify ‘4’ (Big Ben is another example of this). This feature has obviously been reinstated. The results are fantastic and of very high quality. It has also confirmed that the correct shade of blue has been used.
Week 26: w/c 19th October 2015
Two hard hat tours were undertaken on 19th October 2015. The morning tour was attended by seven people and the afternoon’s tour was attended by eight people. All attendees have supported the appeal and the tour is a way of showing the appeal’s appreciation. Although they weather was not as good as last week’s tour, but all who attended were very complimentary of the experience.
After a period of quiet in relation to the scaffold alarms, they started being activated again in the last couple of weeks. No signs of any break-ins have been noted. An area of the hoarding that had been previously repaired after a break-in has been repaired again just to make certain that it remains impenetrable.
Although there has been more rain this week, mortar repairs are continuing at certain locations, where the stonework provides shelter. Due to the shape of the tower, normally two elevations are heavily exposed, whilst two are sheltered. Although works are generally continuing in a ‘top-down’ format, this has resulted in some variation.
At lower levels, more open joints are being found, rather than holes. This is because water can drain away quicker, instead on sitting on the surface. The flow of water over vertical joint, generally results in greater erosion of the mortar. Enquiries made by the contractor regarding non-payment of their invoice (number 3). It was found that the architects valuation certificate had not been received and the invoice could not be passed for payment. The certificate has been reissued by the Project Architect and invoice approved, for payment.
It has been stated that the first new stone delivery has been received at the SSHC workshops, with carving commencing next week. Very relieved to be informed of the stone delivery and impending commencement of carving.
A hard hat tour to see how the work is progressing.
Week 27: w/c 26th October 2015
Mortar repairs are continuing down the tower faces. The results of the mortar are excellent, with very good colour match. Repairs also seem to be weathering satisfactorily. Lead cappings have been fitted to the tops of the pinnacles, to prevent water prom sitting in areas, where it cannot drain and eroding the stone. As the pinnacles are in various states, each cap has to be made in situ. Lead plumbing is a real art form and hard to undertake correctly.
Seven lead repairs have also been undertaken to the roof, to rectify small areas when the lead has split or become thin. Overall, the condition of the lead is very good, with the eastern slope recovered in the 1980’s by the current church caretaker, Doug Littlewood.
Pinning repairs were being undertaken during the site visits. This involves drilling and inserting a stainless steel bar, into the existing stone. This is being undertaken where stone is too good for replacement but could become loose in the future. An epoxy mortar is also used to maintain the integrity of the repair.
An increased number of conservators was noted during the visits, which has helped progress the repair work. The cleaning works were snagged this week. Small areas of poultice cleaning was being undertaken on areas that had been missed.
An additional hard hat tour was held on the 30th October. This tour coincided with the half-term school holidays, which allowed it to be attended by Ashley Gibson and his family. Ashley was responsible for a donation to the appeal through a sponsored bike ride, even though he was aged only 9 at the time. The tour was led by IJP, in the absence of Nick Sharland. Even so, the tour was enjoyed by everyone present.
Carving of the new stone has commenced at SSHC’s workshop. Meeting with Project Architect to discuss possible replacement of rainwater downpipes, with cast iron units. Specification to be issued to SSHC, for pricing.
Another tour to the top of the Tower to see how the work is progressing!
On the way up to the top….
… and now on the very top!