Contract awarded

August 4th, 2008 David

Many thanks to Church warden, Christine, for this update…

The contract for repairing the spire has been appointed to Bowmans of Stamford, who are due to start the work on Mon 11th August. Work is expected to take place over 14 weeks and to finish before Christmas.

The architect has recommended that the spire is strengthened with a steel rod assembly, the cost of which will be circa £3,500. This would normally be seen as an improvement by the insurers, however they have agreed to pay 50% of the costs and the monies raised by the recent spire climb event will go towards the church’s 50%.

Future fundraising events include stalls at the Waltham Fair on 20th & 21st Sep and a Barn Dance with Ceilidh Band on the evening of 1st November at Waltham Village Hall – £8 per head to include supper – tickets from Riky on 01664 464710.

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Missions accomplished!

July 12th, 2008 David

weather cockThe rain managed to hold off for most of this morning’s fund-raising event. Some 20 people (many sponsored) paid £50 to climb the scaffolding ladders right to the top of the spire.

There was also no shortage of volunteers willing to pay £1 for the chance to jump over the weather vane, and receive a certificate to prove they’d achieved this never-to-be-repeated feat. But as the photo on the right shows, the jump wasn’t quite as hair-raising as it at first sounded!

As someone who suffers from vertigo half way up a ladder, I managed the climb only by taking it very slowly, and keeping a tight grip on the scaffolding. But the view from the top of the spire over the surrounding Leicestershire countryside made it well worth the effort.

As soon as I get a chance, I’ll create another photo slideshow of the day’s events. There were quite a few people with cameras today, so if anyone has any photos (or video) they’d like to share, please do let me know by clicking here.

It was fascinating to see the damage to the spire close-up, and hear the architects explain how near it came to completely collapsing during the earthquake. They also described the next stage of the work, which they estimate could take as long as three months to complete.

The top 30 feet of stonework will have to be carefully removed and lowered by pulley to the ground. Each of the stones will then be checked for damage and numbered so that they go back exactly as before.

The insurance loss-adjusters are presently considering bids for the work. But rumour has it that estimates range from £250,000 to £50,000 – which is a surprising difference. I’ll post any information received on when the work is likely to start. But everyone is hoping it will be sooner rather than later!

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A chance to jump over the weather cock!

June 19th, 2008 David

weather cock
It’s now some weeks since the scaffolders left. For all of us wondering when work will start on repairing the spire, Rev. Beverley provides this latest progress report:

The tenders for the spire work have now gone in and work should start very soon. Today I have sent off a huge application pack to English Heritage to see if we can get a grant from them towards all the repairs to the roof, etc., that we need to do.

This would mean that money raised could go towards modernising and enhancing the church building for more varied use and other repairs. However we have raised over £9000 in donations and fund raising so far. A splendid effort. Chris Alexander – one of our churchwardens – raised over £750 last Saturday at her garden event.

The PCC are busy researching other churches who have made significant changes inside their church and the next project for the roof fund is an opportunity to climb the scaffolding on the spire.

The architect will be there, along with three other people, to make sure it’s a safe venture. And at the moment we are trying to get a solicitor to voluntarily write a Disclaimer for us for insurance purposes. Once we have this we can offer 20 places to go up the scaffolding at about £50 donation a time. If you have seen Chris Alexander’s photos from the top you will know what a great opportunity this is.

The cockerel weather vane will have been taken down by then, so for children – and people like me – we will also offer a chance to jump over the weather vane for £1 and gain a certificate to say that you have jumped over the Waltham Spire weather cock! We hope this will all happen on Sat 12th July – if we can get it organised in time – and if the spire is declared safely secured by then.

The next special building spectacular will probably be when the top of the spire is taken down in one piece to the ground as it will be too heavy to use the scallfolding! I await news from the architect about how this will happen.

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Images from the top of the spire

May 12th, 2008 David

Waltham panorama

The scaffolders reached the top level of the spire, some 130 feet above ground, on the first day of May. The sun came out to welcome the new month, making a welcome change to the grey and rainy days of April.

Just before leaving, scaffolders Scott and Troy managed to take some wonderful photos from the very top platform. Click here to view them.

We’ve also created a 360 degree panorama from some of the images (above), giving a breath-taking view across the surrounding countryside. Click here to see it.

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Progress update

May 9th, 2008 David

By Rev Beverley

The architect has now been up the spire and believes that God must be on our side as we are extremely fortunate that the spire hasn’t collapsed onto one of the houses on High Street! Apparently the scaffolders had to work in very dangerous conditions within the spire, but it is now completely safe and scaffolded inside and out.

Tenders will now be sought to do the repair work which should start mid June. The delay is because the work could not be tendered out until the damage had been closely examined. This process will take a month and then work can start.

The top of the spire is 120 feet from ground level and the top 32ft will have to be removed. Before this can happen the damage must be secured using timber wedges and canvas webbing to prevent a certain masonry fall once the top of the spire is removed. The cap of the spire (The top 6-8ft) will have to be lowered to the ground intact and will be too heavy to rest on the scaffolding.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The scaffolders video part 2

May 1st, 2008 David

YouTube video part 2The first of our YouTube clips showing the scaffolders at work proved very popular. This second video follows them on the last day of April. It was yet another depressingly damp and grey day as they neared the pinnacle of the spire.

The video includes a rather shaky climb right to the top of the scaffolding, some close-ups of the cracks in the spire, a glimpse through the very top window, as well as more wonderful (if a little grey) panoramic views over the village.

Click on the image on the right to view the video clip.

Photo slideshow 3

Troy also took the photographs on our Slideshow 3.
Click here to view them.

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Appeal day a great success

April 29th, 2008 David

Appeal DayThe sun came out on Saturday for Rev Beverley’s Church Restoration Appeal Day.

“We are delighted with the result,” reported Beverely. “Clare and I had people to chat to for the whole six hours!

“The fund now stands at £3970, plus about £875 in reclaimed tax,” explained Beverley.

“I’m now trying to get the churchyard tidied for a wedding on Saturday. On Friday the inside of the church is being cleaned and polished.”

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YouTube video of scaffolders at work

April 26th, 2008 David

YouTube video part 1With the scaffolding now nearing the top of the spire, I asked Scott, one of the scaffolders who’s been here since they first started some three weeks ago, if he would take some video, giving us a close-up of the work, as well as some panoramic views of the village.

Unfortunately, no sooner had he agreed than the clouds darkened and the heavens opened, and it turned into a typically grey and showery April afternoon.

I’ve just posted the video on YouTube, and although both Scott’s and my shaky camera work leave a lot to be desired (at least Scott has a good excuse :o ), and the weather was fairly grim, I hope you’ll agree that it provides a fascinating record of the work in progess.

Simply click on the image on the right to view the seven-minute video clip.

Photo slideshow 2

Scott also took the photographs on our Slideshow 2. These were taken earlier in the week – on Tuesday 22 April, when the weather was kinder. They include some stunning photos of the village and surrounding countryside, as well as some great close-ups of the gargoyles. Click here to view them.

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Notes from public meeting

April 12th, 2008 David

Notes of Public Meeting on 7th April at Waltham Village Hall – Harry Hunt Room
Re The Future of Waltham Church – Set in Stone?

Beverley opened the meeting by giving some background information on the church and advised that the problem with the spire has highlighted our dual problem of:

Repairs to the ancient building competing for time, efforts and finance.

Our desire to improve the church to suit the 21st Century ie.

1: It needs to be warm, welcoming & useful whilst keeping its ancient beauty.

2: It needs to be flexible for worship as well as for other uses. (A building that has lots of money spent on it needs to be used as often as possible.)

Beverley concluded by stating that our hope is that those who love our ancient church will help organise and support an appeal to repair and improve St Mary Magdalene church for the future.

A presentation was then shown and talked through by Shuna George, details of which can be supplied.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Work starts…

April 3rd, 2008 David

ScaffoldingThe scaffolders finally arrived yesterday – Wednesday 2nd April.

The latest estimate for how long it’s likely to take to finish the scaffolding is three and a half weeks.

There will be four separate towers at each corner of the church. There will also be scaffolding inside the tower. But it doesn’t seem as though there will be any need for scaffolding inside the church itself.

We’re planning to put a banner high up on the scaffolding showing our website address –

We’re hoping people may see this and visit the site. And may even be tempted to make a donation to the church repair fund.

Although the cracked spire is covered by insurance, we still need to raise more than £35,000 for other repairs. So perhaps the publicity created by the earthquake damage might help us raise awareness. And help save one of Leicestershire’s most historic buildings.

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