We are delighted to announce that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which is the part of the National Lottery that helps to support important historic buildings, has agreed to support the majority of the works necessary on our Tower and Spire.
What's wrong with the Spire and Tower?
You might well be wondering what an earth is wrong with our spire and tower?
The weather has taken its toll on All Saints, during its 136 years standing on Whetstone's ridge. The prevailing south westerly wind has worn the stonework, and washed away the mortar.
This has been a problem for many years. In the 1970s, they attempted to address the problem using cement render. But this has now added to the problem, as the cement has not bound properly to the stone; rain, frost and wind are now causing it to fall off! Before we do anything, all the cement needs to be removed. Only then can we address the stone replacement and mortar-work repairs. It is very urgent. The south west corner of the spire and tower is now so badly worn that water runs freely down the interior walls of the tower, affecting the porch walls, and the north walls of the church (near the heating unit), where you can see that the plaster is now 'live' and falling off.
The weather has also taken its toll on the structure of the spire too. It is bound structurally with iron rings. These have corroded with the weather, and as they corrode and expand, they are forcing the top of the spire off. Our spire is in danger of collapse if left, and in 2014 the church was added to Historic England's ''Buildings at Risk' register
What's going to be done?
The simple part of the job is to replace worn stone, replace lost mortar, and broken slates at the base of the spire.
The harder task involves the deconstruction of the spire, installation of stainless steel replacement rings, and reconstruction of the spire. This is a huge task.
Will this affect me?
Both the cosmetic and structural works will require full scaffolding and a site office. The spire will be scaffolded from 29th January. As the scaffolders work, the car park, Garden of Remembrance and north porch will have to be closed, for health and safety, and to enable the workers to work quickly and safely - time is very much money in this project!
There is good news. Not only will our spire and tower be made safe for the future, but there will also be a series of events to celebrate this. We hope to put on a very All Saints' play looking at the history of the church, and a concert of 20th century music to celebrate the music the generations of All Saints' have heard over the decades. There will be an opportunity for some members (particularly children) to visit the site, and we hope regularly to show views from the spire, and to update you hear on all that we are doing. WATCH THIS SPACE!
What about the money?
The project at the moment is costing £650,000. We hope that the Heritage Lottery Fund will offer us £500,000 of this, which leaves a shortfall. We have raised another £20,000 from Grants and Trusts, but we still need £130,000. We will be launching an appeal to local people, and businesses to meet our targets. But if you could help, please do think about it. Anything that can keep our spire standing is hugely welcomed! #SaveOurSpire #SOS.
Moving on up
The latest stage of our spire and tower restoration project continues apace, with the scaffolding being erected. The spire is nearly 80 feet tall, and because of high winds and its position on a windswept ridge, the scaffolders have to be very careful about how the scaffold is erected. There are effectively two scaffolds: one from the base of the tower to the base of the spire; the second from the base of the spire to its top.
So far they have not been any great disasters. The ancient electrical infrastructure of the church has offered a few challenges when trying to connect with heavy plant, such as the hoist for the scaffold, but where there is a will (and of course always extra money) a solution can be found. One cannot but admire your strength, and bravery, of scaffolders. They work in all conditions, and start work very early!
Below is a slideshow showing some of the latest images of the work in progress - hope you enjoy them.