THE WESTBURY SPIRE RESTORATION PROJECT - further update
After the erection of the scaffolding around the spire, Splitlath, the building conservation contractors set to work removing the old shingles off the spire. The next stage of work was to remove some of the sarking boards (the boarding under the shingles and over the structural framework) to investigate the state of the structure particularly in the higher levels. Unfortunately this uncovered more work to be done than was originally envisaged.
However, the contractors have managed to carry out some of the repairs to the structural framework already. The replacement shingles should be arriving on site shortly and once the structure has been repaired they will be fixed in place.
The Parochial Church Council would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank The Gloucestershire Environmental Trust Company for their most generous grant of £25,827 towards this project.
Simon Phelps (Churchwarden)
- Westbury Church Spire Report 1) The scaffolding is complete. 2) The old shingles have been removed. 3) The backing boards have been assessed. 4) The structural timbers have been tested. 5) Extra structural supports have been designed. 6) A new weathercock has been commissioned. 7) Preparations have been made for re-shingling. The PCC is very grateful to the whole community for the patience shown during this long process, particularly by those who live near the church. We have not been given a completion date by the contractors, though all concerned are making every possible effort to hasten the end. I apologise to all concerned for any inconvenience suffered during this work. Please refer any further comments to me, so that I can pass them on. Rev. Steve Taylor
- Spire repairs may well begin early in the new year. This work will last many months during which the only access to the churchyard will be via the small gate adjacent to the west door. The PCC apologises for any inconvenience this may cause.
- The regular weekaday communion service for the whole benefice continues every wednesday at 2pm at Westbury Church
- The Benefice Gathering for Prayer continues at 4.30pm on the second Wednesday of each month. Steve will lead those who meet at Northwood Green, while others may meet to pray at the four parish churches.
- I am introducing a regular evening communion on the first Sunday of each month at 6.30pm and lasting for 30 minutes, at Westbury Parish Church.
- Westbury Parish Church has been given a grant by the National Churches Trust, in return for which we have been asked to find amongst us a number of subcribers to that trust. If anyone would like to know more, then please ask Rev. Steve Taylor.
- The wardens at Westbury would like to reinstate a rota for cleaning. If anyone feels able to help, perhaps with just an hour a month then please speak to Ann Manning, Simon Phelsp or Rev. Steve Taylor.
- It is always a great pleasure to see fresh flowers in church, and the time and energy given by those who have organised and arranged the flowers through recent years have been much appreciated. If you would like to assist with this please contact Rev. Steve.
- Spire repairs may well begin late in November. This work will last for many months, during which the only access to the churchyard will be via the small gate adjacent to the west door. The PCC apologise to all for the inconvenience this may cause.
IN-SPIRING SITE - WESTBURY ON SEVERN CHURCH
Three years of fundraising, meetings, planning, sifting through quotations and decision making have finally come to fruition and the evidence is visible for miles around. For two months the architect designed scaffolding
has crept up the spire of our historic church until it finally reached the summit. The spire, a thing of beauty itself, became an object of added interest back in 2013 when a team of mountaineers known as the ‘Wallwalkers’, using only ropes and ladders, removed the weathervane. Once again we have watched fascinated, as the web of steelwork embraced the 160 foot high structure.
The contractors, Splitlath of Hay-on-Wye, say that the job of replacing the 35,000 wooden shingles, will take four months, with a further two months to dismantle the scaffolding. The new wooden shingles, which will be fastened using either copper or stainless steel nails, are fashioned from French oak and are predicted to last at least 100 years. The existing shingles were installed in 1938, but appear to be of inferior quality.
The total cost of the renewal is around £600,000, of which some £200,000 is for the scaffolding. The money has been raised from a number of sources, including Bruce Richardson’s fund raising team and Church funds (£18,000), Historic England (£426,000), the National Churches Trust (£40,000), ENTRUST (£26,000), recovery of VAT (£90,000). Bruce has confirmed that parishioners (and other interested parties) are more than welcome to contribute while the work goes on.
BLAISDON CHURCH – THE WORK CONTINUES ….
The roof of St Michael and All Angels, Blaisdon formed part of the major rebuilding of 1869 and it has stood the test of time. Now though, some 150 years on, it is showing its age. Substantial work is needed, particularly to the cast iron guttering and coping stones. Blaisdon PCC launched a roof restoration project in 2015 to make the necessary repairs.
Work is now well under way thanks to a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Roof Repair Fund. Without it, we could not have proceeded.
Our contractors MCH Building Services Ltd of Stonehouse are:
- Repairing or replacing cast iron rainwater guttering, which was cast specially for the Church in the 1860s. It is now cracking badly.
- Repairing or replacing coping stones on the nave and chancel. Some of the 150-year old stones are wearing well but others are disintegrating.
- Undertaking a number of other roof jobs – replacing slates, resetting stonework and pointing.
Our Sunday Services continue as normal but the Church is unfortunately locked during the week.
Latest News on Tower Restoration (May 2015)
At the end of last year , we received notification from English Heritage that they were prepared to fund stage 2 [this is the actual work of replacing the old shingles with new ones, and repairing the wooden framework where necessary] of the restoration project.
Since then we have been answering queries raised by the diocese, in order to obtain a faculty to carry out this work, together with obtaining extra insurance to cover this work.
On contacting our contractor to confirm with him that we were now able to proceed, he has informed us, that unfortunately he is unable to start our project until about September this year, as he is currently restoring a historic building in Stratford upon Avon.
This does NOT mean that we are unable to carry out to start any work ! The geo-physical survey will be undertaken to ascertain the location of any graves around the base of the tower, as this will have a bearing on the ultimate design of the scaffolding structure. We also have to carry out a “Bat” survey prior to work starting.
I will keep you informed of any further progress in the following months.
NATIONAL CHURCHES TRUST – KEEPING CHURCHES, CHAPELS AND MEETING HOUSES ALIVE
The National Churches Trust is delighted to support Westbury on Severn’s church with a grant towards the Restoration work that is being funded. The National Churches Trust (founded in 1953 as the Historic Churches Preservation Trust) is the only national, independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and supporting church buildings of historic, architectural, and community value across the United Kingdom.
A charity supported by voluntary contributions, and which receives no financial support from government, the National Churches Trust has allocated grants and loans - worth over £85 million in today’s prices - to help repair and modernise Christian places of worship. Twelve thousand grants and loans have ensured the good repair of churches, chapels, and meeting houses of many Christian denominations, and funded modern facilities to ensure that they can serve the needs of local communities.
The origins of the National Churches Trust date back to the early 1950s, when the state of repair of parish churches in the United Kingdom was a serious problem. This was the culmination of decades of neglect, stemming from the socio-economic changes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s, and the almost total cessation of maintenance and repair during the Second World War.
After over half a century of valiant work, helped in no small way by the support of trustees including Sir Winston Churchill and Sir John Betjeman, the remit of the National Churches Trust was extended to promote church buildings, provide support, advice and information, and act as a catalyst for bringing in new resources to the sector.
The National Churches Trust is committed to continuing to help more churches remain in good repair for worship, of benefit to local people, and of interest to visitors exploring their fascinating art, architecture, and history. We invite you to help us secure the future of the United Kingdom’s places of worship by becoming a Friend of the National Churches Trust at www.nationalchurchestrust.org.
We have been awarded a grant of £40,000 towards the restoration of the church Tower. Currently we are awaiting the return of the tenders from five different contractors. The main work will include the following : erection of the scaffolding, replacing all the shingles, and the backing boards, renewing the rotten timbers where necessary, and erecting the new weathervane. We are still looking for people to sponsor shingles, and forms can be found in the church.