By Anna Tatham
The removal of the scaffolding on Durham Cathedral will begin in December, the Cathedral has confirmed.
The plastic scaffold sheeting will be the first thing to be taken down on 4th December, followed by the scaffold over the following months. The Central, or Cathedral Tower, the highest tower (66m), is set to be reopened in 2019 for the public to climb.
The top of the 15th-century landmark has been under “vital” conservation works worth £1.9 million since November 2015 in order to protect the stone which forms the tower. Being constructed from golden sandstone, the Cathedral is highly susceptible to erosion and weathering.
Repairs were also needed because ironwork from a previous restoration in the 1850s had rusted and expanded, causing the stones to crack.
Other work being completed includes repairs to roof-coverings and rainwater systems, and the renewal of roof-access decking so that visitors can continue to enjoy the views of Durham and the River Wear from the tower.
Scott Richardson, Clerk of Works at Durham Cathedral said: “Our team of stonemasons have relished working on the tower project knowing that the central part of Durham Cathedral and Durham City’s skyline is being conserved for future generations to enjoy.
“The work has been challenging, dealing with the logistics of working at such a height, at times halting high-level work because of bad weather and winter snow.
“It’s great to be approaching the end of the project as visitors will soon be able to access and enjoy the wonderful views once again.”
The conservation project was made possible as a result of grants from the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, The Alan Evans Memorial Trust, Allchurches Trust Ltd, Friends of Durham Cathedral, Sir John Priestman Charity Trust, Headley Trust and Surtees Trust.
Gaye Kirby, Head of Development at Durham Cathedral, said: “We are hugely grateful to all of the organisations who have generously helped us conserve the Cathedral’s iconic tower for years to come.”
Despite some sheeting being lost during recent storms, no damage has been caused, due to work beneath these areas already being complete, the Cathedral has confirmed.
Repair work was initially delayed as the scaffolding took around seven months to erect due to the location of the World Heritage Site.
Maya Polenz, head of property at Durham Cathedral, previously stated: “It takes quite a bit of work, it’s quite a bit of engineering.”
Photograph: Maddie Flisher