Tower Restoration 2009

The article below was written by Mike Jefferis and appeared in the November Holmer Parish Magazine

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Hi Everyone

I had promised to write once everything was completed on our belltower and the scaffold struck, and that happened on the 6th October, well ahead of schedule.

We had a topping out ceremony on the top lift on Saturday 3rd October with a short service of thanks and dedication led by Phil. Our team of John Arnold, Keith Davies, John Smith, Ron Williams and myself had assembled with Phil to mark this happy occasion and to thank God for being there with us.

Our project went without incident, although I had to consign my anorak to that great tip in the sky after catching a few brushfuls of black bitumastic paint during the second week of painting. It was a bit windy when we started, and the scaffolding swayed a little, but that was part of being there. I know that you were praying to keep us safe.

The weather was undeniably kind to us throughout, and perhaps the remnants of the long heralded barbeque summer that we had been promised.

The first job was carried out by Central Networks and they came and replaced the 3-phase power supply with a single armoured cable re-sited to the stone wall. This dramatically improved our safety with the fear of possible electrocution removed.

I did have a laugh on our first morning, the 24th August our patron saints day, as it was raining quite heavily for a couple of hours, but it was about the only rain that we endured. I thought, "Oh well, John will call it off today", but he was made of sterner stuff and so John, John and I buttoned up and took to the ladders. The debris netting was invaluable at keeping some of it at bay. Ron and Keith joined us later in the project.

I did stand at the top cross, what a fantastic view, and wire brushed it, but Ron painted the cross, and removed and replaced the flag vane so saved me the opportunity to become Spiderman II, although he made an excellent steeplejack. John Arnold spent time at every stage. We started on the roof replacing the missing ridge tiles, which were sourced locally from salvage, but still had to be cut in. Meanwhile, John had me replacing the broken flat tiles – no time to stand and stare.

Next, the guttering was repaired and updated and included new stop ends and a new length on the west side. The lead skirting that guides rain into the gutters was also replaced and a new wire cage built around the top hopper to prevent birds from nesting.

John then moved on to repairing and splicing new oak into the corner posts where needed and re-pointed the top of the parapet wall.

The lightning conductor was re-routed and re-earthed by Dawsons of Bristol and they used 20 feet of copper rod driven into the ground to reduce the resistance below 10 ohms.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the team got on with preparing and painting the black and white top, which was a major task, as well as the guttering and leaded windows.

Keith and I also painted the ringing chamber, oiled the door, and waxed the floor after the exterior painting was finished.

Our project could not have been completed without the help of each member of our small team and I thank them for their efforts and friendship. My thanks also to John Edmunds for gilding the flag vane and Mick Broad for re-bonding the disturbed electrics.

May God bless them all for making our tower weatherproof for a few more decades. It was last painted in 1986 and John Smith helped then, but he has said that he does not plan to be available in 2032.

In closing, our project was a few years in the making, but it was all worth while. The black and white tower now glows in the autumn sun with a newly gilt flag on the pinnacle.

Thanks be to God.

Your friend in Christ Mike