St Michael’s – with scaffolding until September.

The scaffolding will be a feature - covering the Broad Street end of St Michaels Without - until September.

The scaffolding will be a feature – covering the Broad Street end of St Michael’s Without – until September.

More than four months work lies ahead on making repairs to the fabric of St Michael’s Without behind the one hundred feet high scaffolding that now clads the church tower.

The Virtual Museum has had an opportunity of putting some questions to the architect who is supervising the Heritage Lottery funded work.

The view from one hundred feet up the tower of St Michaels Without. Photo taken by James Preston.

The view from one hundred feet up the tower of St Michael’s Without. Photo taken by James Preston. Click on images to enlarge

She is Emma Green who is Associate Director of Benjamin & Beauchamp Architects Ltd of Wedmore in Somerset.

Q. First of all, what work is being carried out?

A. ‘We are repairing high-level masonry to the tower and spire.’

An image taken by James Preston - who will be working on the repairs as part of Sally Strachey Historic Conservation - high up on the tower face.  You can clearly see the damage ferrous metals cause to stone work when they are embedded.

An image taken by James Preston – who will be working on the repairs as part of Sally Strachey Historic Conservation – high up on the tower face. You can clearly see the damage ferrous metals cause to stone work when they are embedded.

Q. What is the problem?

A. ‘Typically for 19 th century buildings, the church was built using iron cramps and ring beams at high level. As the iron corrodes, it expands and puts pressure on the surrounding masonry, which can then make it more susceptible to general weathering.’

Q.What is being done?

Emma Green from Benjamin&Beauchamp Architects is pictured examining the balustrade masonry with Baas Aldred from St. Michael's Without PCC.

Emma Green from Benjamin&Beauchamp Architects is pictured examining the balustrade masonry with Baas Aldred from St. Michael’s Without PCC.

A. ‘With the generous help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the church has been able to erect this substantial scaffold and undertake repairs.

We will be removing the smaller pieces of ironwork and replacing them with stainless steel (which does not corrode); the larger pieces are being protected from further corrosion using the application of electrical current. Whilst this is not new technology it is relatively new in being applied to historic buildings.

More evidence of structural damage caused by rusting iron cramps. Another image taken by James Preston. Click on images to enlarge.

More evidence of structural damage caused by rusting iron cramps. Another image taken by James Preston. Click on images to enlarge.

Surrounding masonry will be repaired and re-pointed before the scaffold comes down. Whilst the scaffold is up the church are also taking the opportunity to repair the stained glass window at the base of the tower.’

Q. How long will it take?

A.’ The work will take until September 2015. The church and café will remain open throughout. There are also lots of heritage-related activities underway, including stained glass workshops and a heritage exhibition in July.’

I found out a bit more about those activities from Lisa Ware who is the Office Administrator and Assistant to the Rural Dean.

She told me : ‘ We will be holding various ‘History and Heritage’ events throughout the project, including a week-long exhibition from 6th July and a short series of stained glass workshops.

People will also be able to follow the progress of the project through our virtual ‘diary’ on our website – www.stmichaelsbath.org.uk – which will go live in the next few weeks.’

You will be able to follow the work of the conservators via http://www.sshconservation.co.uk/