Church prepares for re-rendering this week

The tower and porch at St Michael’s Parish Church are now completely encased in scaffolding

THE congregation of St Michael’s Parish Church have been given another update on repair work of the tower, which is suffering from water ingress. 

It was recently reported that removal of the peddle dash render had revealed an unexpected layer of bitumen, which had previously been used to coat the south and west walls of the tower.

This is expected to significant increase the cost of the £100,000 project, as the bitumen has had to be chiseled off by hand.

The west wall of the tower and church clock with the unexpected layer of bitumen coating

Tim Bacon, who is overseeing the project on behalf of St Michael’s Parochial Church Council, commented: “The removal of the coating of bitumen on the south and west walls of the tower is ongoing and has been time-consuming. Most of the bitumen has now been removed using hammer and chisel and the site manager is optimistic that this task will be completed next week.

“Although the cost of this extra work is not yet known, it is likely to add a significant amount to the overall cost of the repairs.”

Work had continued in wet and windy conditions, with workmen protected by the monoflex covering around the scaffolding.

All of the pebble dash render has now been removed from the tower and porch and the underlying stonework is being repaired as necessary.

The same west wall after the bitumen coating had been hand chiseled off

The stonework at the top of the north wall of the tower is in particularly poor condition and will need to be made good. Because of this, the church architect recommended that bell ringing be suspended until the new rendering has dried in the final stages of the work.

The contractors are making preparations to start applying new lime mortar render this week. This is likely to be messy work and Mr Bacon asked the congregation to “make allowances”, although the contractors would try to keep the front area of the church as clean and tidy as possible.

The latest fundraising summary showed that the church still needed to raise the remaining £25,000 of the project cost. The bitumen problem will add to this shortfall but it is not yet known by how much.

Further grant applications have been submitted but the majority will need to come from donations and fundraising.

Donations to Lyme Regis Parochial Church Council for the Tower Repair Fund would be most welcome and can be made subject to Gift Aid.  For more details, contact church treasurer Dawn Baker on 01297 443478.

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