As Wakefield Cathedral’s Spire Appeal reaches £8,000, work can finally begin 300ft above the city centre

These stunning photos show a workman carrying out essential maintenance on Wakefield Cathedral’s historic spire - at 247ft in the air.

By Julie Marshall
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 9:04 am
Looking down on Wakefield from the cathedral spire
Looking down on Wakefield from the cathedral spire

The spire which has dominated the local landscape since the 15th century, is in a state of ruin after cracks began to show.

A recent report highlighted there were significant open joints in the upper sections of the spire and the interior was showing signs of leakage.

Some emergency works were undertaken in 2018 and 2019 particularly around the western and southern clock faces.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

A bird's-eye view of the city of Wakefield. Photo Scott Merylees

The report said further pointing, grouting and selective pinning is imperative if the external masonry to the tower is to remain stable.

Geoff Piddock is leading the team from SSH Conservation the specialist company carrying out the restoration work.

He said: “Getting up the spire is a combination of old fashioned steeple jacking and modern rope techniques.

“To get up there in the first place we are just doing the same as steeple jacks have always done, slotting together short sections of ladder which we bolt to the side of the spire.

Dan Bottomley carries out repairs to the cathedral spire. Photo Scott Merrylees

“Once up there we wrap big wire struts around to protect the spire and to fix our ropes to and traverse all around the spire and abseil up and down.”

The main priority for Mr Piddock and his team is pointing the cracks and removing anything loose that has the potential to fall off.

He said: “One of the decorative stone crockets has come off so we are carving a new one of those and a number of other ones are in a state of erosion.”

He also said that a lot of the masonry blocks that make up the spire had eroded faces so they may be repaired.

How long the work will take to complete is determined by the weather but also the arrival of the cathedral’s resident peregrines.

Mr Piddock said: “If the peregrines start building a nest then we have to get out of their way so we are hoping to get it done as quickly as possible.

He added: “The spire is actually in a pretty good state. It’s just nature taking it’s course, the stone erodes and you just have to stay on top of the jobs like the pointing every few years.”

The work is estimated to cost £44,900 for erecting scaffolding and carrying out the repairs.

Historic England awarded the cathedral a grant of £35,920 leaving a shortfall of £8,980. The Spire Appeal was launched last December to raise the remaining funds.

This week fundraisers announced they had reached the £8,000 milestone so are having a final push to raise the rest.

The Very Revd Simon Cowling, Dean of Wakefield: “We would like to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported Wakefield Cathedral with our Spire Appeal so far, be it through donations or simply by raising the awareness of the appeal by sharing our story with family and friends.

“Completing the repairs on the spire was essential to safeguard the future of one of Wakefield’s most iconic landmarks and we are delighted that the work has now begun.”

Sam Heritage, income and funding manager at Wakefield Cathedral said: “We would greatly welcome donations, large or small, to help us find the last few hundred pounds we need.

“Any gift you can give will make a significant difference.”