Aspiring to great heights

December 1, 2016 / 

We are thrilled that we can now plan to erect one of Guernsey’s tallest scaffolds in early 2017 at 38m high. Torteval parishioners voted 80 ‘pour’ and one ‘contre’ on Tuesday evening after an excellent presentation by the Church Repairs Committee. The tower and spire have been leaking for decades and, in fact, probably since not long after construction in 1816. After many years of prevarication the plan is now in place and, after the thorough tender process with local contractors, we are in a position to start the repairs which should preserve the Church for generations to come.

In summarising the meeting last night, Pat le Tocq said that he wondered who had had the bright idea of constructing the Island’s tallest building on the highest part of the Island, so near to the coast, all those years ago! He was pleased that the parishioners had voted in favour of the works.

The main issue over the years has been the water ingress. This has caused the lime from the bedding mortar to leach out inside the spire causing ‘stalactites’ of calcified lime to run out and down the inside face of the walls. This leaching means that the lime has been removed from the core of the wall, leaving voids. These voids exacerbate the problems of moisture ingress in such an exposed location, with the added problem of ‘evil’ cement pointing! They also leave a structural problem.

The work we plan to do will include forming thousands of holes around the outside of the building and injecting, under very low pressure, a thin, lime-based grout to fill the voids. This work has to start from the ground and move up the tower and will be followed by completely re-pointing the mortar joints using natural hydraulic lime and sand mortar.

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Scaffolding incurs a large cost,  so we intend to carry out all of the other work the spire needs at the same time such as removal of corroding steel beams, repair of eroded brickwork, decoration of windows and doors, and various repairs to the vestry and entrance wings.

The next task will be tackling the much weaker interior limestone steps which are slowly eroding from salts and moisture damage, in fact one collapsed under the structural engineer whilst he was inspecting their condition. These are now propped and safe for access, but the priority is to reduce the moisture penetrating the building fabric, allow it to dry out, and then we can consider the next step (pun intended!)

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