Tower and Spire Returned to Former Glory
Almost a year to the day after St James’ Birkdale launched an appeal to its congregation the project to repair the tower and spire was completed. At a meeting after the morning service on 3rd November 2013 the church members were asked to pledge the sum of £111,000 towards the total cost of £247,000 to fund the repairs to the church’s tower and spire.
In March 2013 English Heritage had offered a grant of £101,000 - a further £35,000 could be claimed from the Listed Places of Worship scheme. By February 2014 the remaining £111,000 had been raised following the appeal and we were in a position where we could commence the project.
The work was put out to tender by our architects, Lloyd Evans Pritchard, and stonemasons Mather & Ellis Ltd were appointed as the main contractor. On 9th June the work commenced and about four weeks later the spire and tower were completely encased by scaffolding. Over the next four months the team of stonemasons led by site foreman Chris Baines, meticulously and skilfully removed the topmost courses of stone from the spire. Each piece was marked and then reassembled on the ground to enable decisions to be made as to which pieces needed replacing. After discussions with English Heritage new pieces of masonry were crafted from St Bees stone. The corroded iron cross tree was removed and replaced by a modern stainless steel version.
After rebuilding the top of the spire, work continued with lower eroded stones being replaced or repaired with indents and windows in the spire were rebuilt or substantially repaired.
Ian Mainey, Vicar of St James’, commented:
“When faced with the challenge of repairing the spire and tower we thought it would be a tall order to raise the sufficient funds, but due to the generosity of our wonderful congregation, members of the community and a generous grant from English Heritage the finance required was raised within four months. We would like to thank our architect, Andrew Kepczyk, and the contractor, Mather and Ellis, who did a splendid job. Since taking down the scaffolding many people have commented on how good the spire looks. We now know that the spire of the church pointing heavenward will remain a well-known landmark, and a symbol of God’s presence, here in Southport in the years to come.”
At the outset of the fundraising for this project it was decided that a sum representing 10% of the total raised by the church would be tithed and that four charities representing local, national and international needs should receive a share of this. These four charities are:
- St Peter's Church, Birkdale
- Southport and Area School's Worker Trust
- CPAS Falcon Camps
- Vicar of Baghdad Fund for Relief of Christians in Mosul
Further information can be obtained by contacting the Parish Office.
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