Up, up and away…


Posted by Andy Goddard

Posted in News

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One of the largest cranes of its type in the country (300 tonnes) has helped Winchester Cathedral’s latest conservation project get up and running. The crane lifted a huge scaffolding framework onto the roof of the Cathedral.

Raising the Roof from Winchester Cathedral on Vimeo.

The time lapse video provided by the cathedral documents the raising of the scaffold roof above the east end – part of a £20.5m conservation and development project supported by Heritage Lottery Fund.

The 27 tonne structure consists of 7 bays of Layher system and had become a feature of the Cathedral’s Outer Close since the beginning of the year. Only in the last week had it finally taken shape and its purpose become fully evident.

Now that it’s securely in place on the Eastern roof, work can start on remoulding and replacing 500 tonnes of lead which has deteriorated.

The frame itself was hoisted in 4 sections at a distance of 12m above the Cathedral Tower, and then lowered onto the East of the Cathedral roof. The operation took a day to complete.

Site Construction Manager Ian Bartlett co-ordinated the lift on the day:

“As far as we know, this is the first time that this has taken place on a Cathedral in this country. Apart from the complexities of building the framework in the first place, the logistics of working in a relatively tight space at that end of the building to achieve the lift meant that everything had to be planned to the minutest degree.”

This is just one part (albeit a large part) of the project to repair and conserve the roof spaces at the East End of the building, which also included building a similarly impressive ‘bird’s nest’ structure inside the Cathedral to enable the preservation of the roof spaces and the Presbytery High Vault with its medieval bosses.

It’s part of a larger, £20.5m, project – partially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund – which includes exhibition spaces in the South Transept telling the stories of the Cathedral, and the people who have inspired and been inspired by it, alongside the refurbishment of the Learning Centre. This second stage is hoped to be completed in the early summer.

Annabelle Boyes is Receiver General at the Cathedral.

“Our aspirations have become a reality now in a very visible way. We are on a journey which started five years ago, and will continue for at least another three. But we are custodians of a thousand year heritage so, what we hope to achieve, will protect that heritage well into the future.”