In November 2017, work began on what would be a six-month-long repair project to return the Christ Church spire and tower to its former glory and protect it from future damage. This urgent repair job and long-term improvement plan was a big deal for the Church and only possible due to the immense generosity of a large number of people, to whom the Church extends its gratitude for supporting the project financially.
Christ Church is a Grade II listed building and dates back to 1855. For the architectural among you, the church comprises: a nave, west tower, north and south aisles, non-projecting north and south transepts, north and south chapels, a chancel, an old and new vestry and a south porch built in the nineteenth century in the perpendicular style. The 3-stage west tower is topped with an octagonal stone spire, topped by a cockerel weathervane (see photo above).
Previous inspection reports and surveys from 2012 identified that the spire and tower of the church needed significant repairs to prevent further deterioration and the potential acceleration of decay and damp penetration.A drone survey followed by a rope access survey confirmed that urgent action was required and a programme of repairs was compiled by our architect. The aim was to ensure that the spire and tower would be fully weather resistant and sound for another 25 to 50 years.
Rope access and drone surveys identified that the following repairs were required:
- Stonework repairs to spire and tower
- Repointing to tower and spire
- Cleaning of stonework
- Repair to tracery of Lucarnes
- Treatment / removal of Ferrous reinforcement within spire
- Renovation of spire weathervane
- Renovation of plasterwork around west window
- Widening and reconstruction of churchyard gate
The repair work carried out
The philosophy behind the repairs was to remove the corroding ferrous metal within the stonework of the spire to prevent further damage and repair the stonework generally so that it would last for another 100 years. As this was a conservation and renovation project, most of the fabric of the tower and spire were retained. The only parts that were removed in preference to treatment and protection were the 2 ferrous bands and the spire pinnacle support steelwork.
The pinnacle and weathervane were repaired with welding and treated before repainting. The ferrous bands in the spire were found to be very corroded, causing the stonework to fracture in places. Therefore, the best option seemed to be replacing them with new stainless steel bands and anchor bolts. Apart from the initial contrasting colour of the new mortar pointing, which is already fading, none of the works have altered the character of the building.
The most notable conservation achievement is that the spire is now stable and
The Church continues to attract large congregations who not only appreciate the aesthetic and safety benefits of having had their church spire and tower repaired,
Pictures of the progress of the repair project and elements of the repair are shown below. Firstly, the erection of the scaffolding during late 2017 and early 2018.
With thanks to