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Lyme Tower Project almost complete

by Michael Ford last modified 31 Jan, 2020 12:03 PM

A 5-month project to extensively repair and refurbish the tower at St Michael’s Parish Church in Lyme Regis is almost complete.

Lyme Tower Project almost complete

Tim Bacon with architect Russ Palmer and George Wolff of contractors Ellis & Co. Original photo courtesy Lyme Online

The scaffolding which has covered the church during the renvovation work is expected to come down at the end of this month.

The main problem was that the eterior of the tower was letting water in.

The pebbledash exterior of the tower has been removed and replaced with new lime mortar render. Repairs have also been made to the parapet stonework, and the church clock has been cleaned and serviced, with replacement mechanism parts to be fitted in February to complete the project.

The project was initially estimated to cost £150,000, with Lyme Regis Town Council donating £40,000, but this has now risen to almost £170,000 due to a number of unexpected costs.

The biggest issue was a layer of bitumen discovered when the pebbledash was removed from the south and west walls of the tower, much of which had to be chiselled off by hand.

Tim Bacon, who has been overseeing the project on behalf of the Parochial Church Council (PCC), said the bitumen issue was “very costly and completely overwhelmed contingency and provisional sums.”

He added:

“The stair turret stonework required a great deal of work. Fittings holding the bottom of the clock face had rusted away completely and required replacement with stainless steel.

“4 rotten timber lintels holding up the south wall of the tower were discovered in an ancient void and required immediate replacement. These and other items have increased the total project cost by £20,000 to very nearly £170,000.

“Although often very windy, weather conditions were ideal for applying the new lime mortar render. When the contractors packed up for their Christmas break, they had completed all 3 layers of lime mortar, which is now drying out well.

“Remaining works to repair parapet stonework, external painting and other minor tasks are being carried out this week. The internal repairs are progressing well and will be completed within 2 or 3 weeks.

“We hope that by the end of January our band of ringers will be given the go ahead to resume bell ringing."

Funds raised up until the end of November were about £137,000, leaving a shortfall of approximately £33,000. Although further grants may yet be possible, the majority of this extra cost will need to come from donations and fundraising.

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