Cathedral Hard Hat Tours begin with a bird’s-eye perspective of our parish home

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Our restoration project entered an exciting new stage last week with the start of our fascinating Hard Hat Tours.

As work continues to restore the glory of our magnificent parish home, we’re giving parishioners and visitors the chance to be part of the story by going behind the scenes to view the work first-hand.

Taking place each month, each of our tours will have a unique focus, reflecting the nature of the work being carried out at that time.

This month, the tour’s focus was on the cathedral’s iconic 61-metre high spire, with visitors donning hard hats and hi-vis to find out more about restoring the building’s exterior.

Photo collage: Photo 1 shows the newly-cleaned stonework of the cathedral; Photo 2 shows the group learning more about the process of cleaning the stonework

During the trip, our knowledgeable guide from Simpsons – the company contracted to carry out the restoration work – talked visitors through the process of raking out all the joints to the stonework and cleaning the stone with a thermotic-treated water system.

As the group worked its way up the scaffolding, the visitors enjoyed a rare view of our stunning East Window – albeit without our treasured stained glass.

Our guide explained how glass from our striking window had been removed and taken to Barley Studios in York, where each pane will be carefully cleaned, restored where necessary, and placed between environmental protection glazing to help conserve the glass for the future and help address problems with  heat loss from the building.

In its place, the group could peer through the remaining clear glass, down into the empty cathedral below to the work being carried out inside, and even across the colourful glass at the opposite end of the church.

Photo collage showing view through the cathedral from the East Window and second photo shows the group looking at the exterior of the East Window

Onwards and upwards, the group began to scale the spectacular spire itself, coming face-to-face with exquisite gargoyles and other decorative features, whilst learning more about the process of removing these heavy pieces of stone and replacing the weakened pegs that have been holding them in place.

After a minute or two enjoying skylines of our parish community and surrounding cityscape, the group began their descent with words of praise and admiration for the craftsmanship of the project.

One visitor said: “For me, the highlight was seeing the detail of the stonework up close and learning all about how they go about restoring that today.

“I just thought it was a wonderful opportunity and it’s given me a far better understanding of the extent of the project being undertaken in terms of the restoration work.”

Another visitor added: “It really is a privilege to be up there because it’s not an opportunity everyone gets, so to see the work going on and the work that went into building it originally is absolutely fantastic.”

Photo collage: Photo 1 shows a row of gargoyles on the exterior of the cathedral; photo two shows the slates being replaced on the roof, photo 3 is a close of one of our stained glass windows; photo 4 is the view from the top of the scaffolding

The monthly tours are due to continue into the new year, with each one highlighting a different aspect of our church’s restoration journey. Upcoming dates include:

Friday 29th September 2023

Friday 27th October 2023

Friday 24th November 2023

Friday 26th January 2024

Friday 23rd February 2024

The health and safety briefing and the tour will begin at 1.30pm and will last 1.5hours.

More dates in 2024 will be released nearer the time.

You can book your tour by contacting the Parish office on 0161 817 2210 during working hours (Monday – Friday 08.30-16.30) providing your name, contact number and number of tickets required, preferred tour date and time. (Tickets: Maximum of 2).

Telephone enquiries outside of office hours will not be accepted. Bookings will be taken on a first come first served basis.