The Story Behind the Restoration of the Spire

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It was a great relief to know that while storm Babet did its worst, the Spire and roof at St Andrew's Church were secure. It is less than a year since we started to raise funds to undertake the restoration of the Spire, having been told by the architect that we should complete this during the summer of 2023, as it was probable it would not survive another winter. Click here to view photos from the survey.

The Spire Restoration Group worked hard to raise funds and manage the project. We investigated the possibility of removing the spire - after all it is an aesthetic architectural feature, without function as a bell tower or ventilator - but we were advised that as an important aspect of the Grade II listing and would have to be replaced (which would have cost more than the £135k required for restoration). As the building is listed, the design had to be a like-for-like restoration using traditional materials.

We applied to nine different bodies for funds, of which seven were successful. We were in the fortunate position of being able to use some of our reserve fund, which would give grant giving organisations confidence that if they provided funds, we would be able to go ahead with the project. At the end of February we launched our local and community appeal and decided to hold a community garden party to raise funds. The target for this was £25,000, but by mid-April about £35,000 had been raised and with the amount already raised we were able to appoint the contractor who began the restoration in early June. The community Garden Party took place in early May at the Kenwood Hall Hotel, but instead of a fund-raising event, it was a celebration of having raised sufficient funds.

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The dismantling of the louvred section revealed that there was little of it that could be reused. The iron bolts used to hold sections to the inner frame had expanded as they rusted, which had split the timber of the frame and the outer buttress pieces. The frame needed to be strengthened and we were also advised to have the louvred and castellated sections entirely replaced in accoya, a type of treated soft wood that is more durable than hard wood. Fortunately, the success of the fund-raising and generosity of the funders, enabled us to agree to the additional cost of these changes. Regrettably, the planned Open Day visits onto the scaffolding for a close up view of the spire could not take place but instead parts of the deteriorated timbers and copper sections were displayed in the transept of the Church, and people were able to sign the inside of one of the copper sheets that had been fabricated ready for fixing.

On 5 October we invited everyone who had worked on the project to a lunch-time Thank You event. We were especially grateful to the workmen who had laboured high up on the scaffolding through rain, shine and wind, the contracting company management for their competence and consideration in their occupation of the Church, and the architect who had produced highly accurate design drawings of the spire, which were praised by the joiner.

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The Spire now looks just as it did almost one hundred years ago when the Church was built. The copper will lose its shine in the coming months, and in two or three years it will turn green. The drainage system in the upper castellated part is improved and the bird grills are shaped to match the gothic shaped openings in the louvred sections. Also, it is possible to climb up inside the structure so that future maintenance can be carried out without scaffolding.

John Cripps

Need and delivery

Saint Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church (SAPLC) is in a Conservation Area. It is a Grade 2 Listed building and has a distinctive spire, the condition of which has deteriorated and is now in need of urgent repairs. The spire is a landmark, and its absence would be a noticeable loss to the city of Sheffield.

If the spire is not repaired there is a danger that large pieces of metal and other material will become detached and damage the church roof or cause danger to users of the building and those accessing the grounds. The repair has become urgent, and health and safety concerns will increase in the coming winter months. In addition, leakage will cause damage to the substructure and ceiling of the nave.

We are advised that, on conservation grounds and because of the architectural importance of the spire on the building, we are obliged to repair it in a like for like manner. The repair is necessary to safeguard the future of the building, as the current state of the spire puts the building at risk.

The church has engaged the services of Tom Crooks a specialist conservation architect accredited by AABC. The architect has advised on the condition of the spire and facilitated and reported on tenders from suitable contractors. His advice is that the works are urgent, and the spire should not be allowed to weather a further winter beyond 2022/23 and must be undertaken in 2023 at the latest. The total cost of the works including fees and surveys is likely to be in the region of £135,000. In order that the necessary works could be accurately ascertained the church council has already paid for a high-level survey of the inside and exterior of the building at a cost of £8,754.

In addition, advice and practical assistance in the project is being received from:

  • Joanne Balmforth, conservation officer (Manchester) The Methodist Church of Great Britain and
  • Tom Rattigan, missional property enabler, Sheffield Methodist District.