St. Michael's Church spire

TYPE: Professional

DATE: January 2009


ROLE: Detailed Drawings; Specification & On site supervision

Client: Blackburn Diocese & English Heritage

Value: £400,000

This was a conservation project consisting of renovation works to a Grade II* listed Neo-Gothic Church in Lancashire, North West England. The principal focus of these works involved the delicate repair of the Church’s 46m tower and spire (added in 1844), which had, due to the oxidisation of its original wall restrains, begun to lean over dangerously to one side. Following a generous grant by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, £400,000 was made available to the Diocese of Blackburn in order to carryout the necessary repairs. In assembling a team of local conservations specialists, we were chosen as the principal architects to instruct and oversee the works.

Following a series of detailed historic surveys, carried out by ourselves and other specialist consultants, the decision was made to remove, repair and rebuild the entire spire. Working with a senior conservation architect, my duties involved the formation of schematic drawings identifying the extents of the proposed work, creation of a detailed (NBS) specification and tender package and finally, the regular inspection and supervision of works on site. Over the course of the works, each of the stones from the spire were removed, labelled and, where necessary, recut from the original local sandstone. It was an important consideration of the scheme as a whole that, in line with most modern conservation values, the new works could easily be identified as such by abstaining from “dishonest” artificial weathering and allowing the gradual darkening of the new stonework to take place naturally. Alongside the delicate reconstruction of the spire, other repairs were carried out to important elements of the church's exterior, including: arches, clerestory windows, finials and niches.