Work to repair St Wulfram’s spire in Grantham faces delays

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Repairs to the spire on St Wulfram’s church will not be finished until the new year.

It was hoped that the spire would be back to its full glory by the end of November, but workers have found it more difficult to take the spire apart than was anticipated.

St Wulfram's spire under repair in December 2014. Photo: Roger Graves

St Wulfram's spire under repair in December 2014. Photo: Roger Graves

In a progress report on the work, architect Graham Cook said: “Unfortunately work has progressed more slowly than had been hoped with rebuilding the spire and, although we are now approaching the summit again, I am afraid that there have been a number of unavoidable delays to progress and work will not now be complete, ready for the scaffolding to start coming down, until some weeks after Christmas.

Mr Cook added: “The precise time scale depends entirely on what weather conditions we encounter over the coming weeks. Unfortunately the dismantling and rebuilding work has taken a great deal of extra time due to the fact that the top five metres of the stonework, last rebuilt in 1946, had been put back together at that stage with very strong neat cement grout and mortar, invisible until dismantling started, and other areas of stonework lower down the spire had also been repaired with the same material.

“This has meant that all the stones in those areas have had to be sawn apart through the mortar joints, a painstaking process. Any attempts to separate these stones by other methods resulted in the stones disintegrating because the cement mortar was far stronger than the stone itself. All of the cement mortar still remaining on these stones then had to be carefully skimmed off on the saw bench, off site, to get them back to their original size, before they could be reassembled.

“The old rusting iron cramps between stones (the main reason for the need to rebuild now) have been removed and replaced with stainless steel ones. If this stonework had all been reassembled in 1946 with lime mortar, as had been anticipated, they would all have separated from each other very easily.

“Also the crockets, the decorative carved stones running up each of the eight corners of the spire, are proving time consuming to reassemble as a lot of their thinner sections were unavoidably broken in the process of cutting them free, and will need stone repairs piecing in as they go back together.

“We are also now experiencing increasing delays due to bad weather, on days when it is too cold or windy for work at high level to proceed.”