Christ Church's Spire Clock and stones restored!

Celebrations have been held at Christ Church, Bradford on Avon as Christ Church Primary School children took part in ‘Experience Church’, and the community celebrated the restoration of their landmark spire clock.

400 children came into Christ Church to take part in the special sessions to explore the meaning of ‘The Church’. Children were encouraged to delve more deeply and spiritually into the Church and how it Welcomes, Prays, Teaches, Serves, Celebrates and Shares. Participation was enthusiastic and wide – with children asking questions, reflecting and taking part in a range of activities.

Experience Church happily coincided with the raising and restarting of the landmark spire clock, Christ Church Primary School cheered and clapped as the newly restored and gleaming gold dials were raised up to the top of the tower. A special moment in time, as a local landmark is restored.

Originally installed in 1863, at a cost of £175, the clock had become a rusting shadow of its former self and had not been working for many years. The damage to the clock is not just limited to a broken mechanism and motor, but the dials of the clock were also extremely weathered as they have taken a battering from the elements over the years.

Fabulous grants from National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust were supplemented by generous and often spontaneous donations from the community – showing just how much this landmark means to local people.

A group of 8 volunteers were invited to visit Smith of Derby clockmakers where they were privileged to gild a large part of our west facing spire clock dial. The group learned about clock making and apprenticeship opportunities, as well as applying 23.5kt gold leaf to the numerals on the dial.

About 200 people of all ages came to watch and celebrate as the newly restored and now gleaming dials were raised up the tower and fixed to the spire. Clock decorated cakes and stories were shared and at 12 noon, once again telling the time to the wider community.

Facilitated by our Discover Christ Church! National Lottery Heritage Fund Community Outreach Officer Becky, a range of events are planned going forward – including BoA Youth ‘Meet the Steeplejack’ and ‘Meet the Stonemasons’ sessions, a talk on clock restoration by Smith of Derby, and a Christmas Card and Carols inspired by the heritage of Christ Church being held jointly with Dementia Action Alliance and Christ Church Primary School.

Christ Church are 84% funded for their two other projects with £99k to raise to be able to provide new toilets and a fresh kitchen, visit Christ Church's website to see how you can help (link at the end of the article)

The restoration of Christ Church’s landmark spire clock is a key element of the two-year National Lottery Heritage Funded Discover Christ Church! project that is delivering an inclusive and intergenerational programme of heritage inspire community outreach, activities, workshops and celebrations running alongside a programme of conservation, repairs and improvements to this fine grade 2* listed building, including:

· Conservation and repairs to the woodwork, wiring and stonework of the tower and spire, as well as to the main West Door.

· Restoration and restarting of the spire clock.

· A new energy efficient and adjustable lighting system, and

· Conservation and cleaning of the nave walls, fine wall paintings and stonework.

Grants have also been awarded by the Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust and the Pilgrim Trust and ChurchCare, along with generous donations from members of the local community.

Christ Church Bradford on Avon is a Grade 2* listed building in recognition of its fine, ‘opulent’ and ‘crisp’ woodwork, stonework and wall paintings, its exceptionally rich, high quality and complete set of late Victorian fittings, and the unusual survival of a relatively unknown near complete scheme of stencilled and freehand nave wall paintings (Burlison and Grylls, directed by John Oldrid Scott (son of Sir George Gilbert Scott of St Pancras fame.

Grants towards the provision of toilets, a kitchen, flexible community spaces, an office and storage have so far been generously awarded by:

- Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust

- Garfield Weston Foundation

- Bradford on Avon Town Council

- Benefact Churches Trust

- Medlock Charitable Trust

- Community donations

Visit Christ Church's website here.

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