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Durham Cathedral’s central tower to reopen to the public from 1 June 2019

07 May 2019

It won’t be long before the skyline of Durham is restored to its former glory, as the conservation work on Durham Cathedral’s central tower draws to a close.  It will be open to the public once again from Saturday 1 June 2019.   

The reopening, sponsored by Baldwins Accountants, will mean that visitors will once again be able to take on the challenging 325 step climb to take in the unrivalled views of Durham and beyond for the first time in over three years. It is only from this height that the beautiful dapple effect of the new sandstone merging with the old can be fully appreciated.

Scott Richardson, Clerk of Works at Durham Cathedral said: ‘I am thrilled that the belfry project is nearing completion. Not only have the upper levels undergone significant renovation to ensure they are structurally sound for continued public use, but the skillset of the cathedral’s in-house masonry team has been dramatically expanded due to the demanding nature of the work.

‘On a personal level it has been a pleasure to work on a project of this magnitude, overseeing a job which I am not likely to encounter again in my lifetime. I know that once the public see the work, they will realise the closure was worth the wait.’

The removal of the scaffolding is almost complete, though the hoist lift will remain in place a little longer, allowing finishing touches to roofing work, and the construction of a new viewing platform.

Lee Boyes, Wood Group Scaffolding Supervisor said: ‘The scaffolding has in itself become a recognisable feature in the city because of how long the work has been ongoing. As we reach the final stages of dismantle in preparation for June 1st, it is dawning on me that I will soon be leaving Durham Cathedral behind and saying goodbye to a project which has been a career highlight for me.’

The conservation scheme was devised by Chris Cotton, of Purcell, Durham Cathedral’s Conservation Architect.  Chris said: ‘The work in itself has been challenging, involving stone renewal and restoration to both the exterior and interior of the tower.  The iron railings which were installed during the Victorian era have been replaced with new bronze railings. These have been fixed using the medieval technique of hot poured lead which minimalises mortar erosion.  The cathedral stone masons have done a fabulous job with acute attention to detail and it has been a pleasure working with them. ’

David Baldwin, Board Director at Baldwins Accountants, said: ‘I’m delighted that we are sponsoring the re-opening of the Tower.  As a business, we’re passionate about working with local communities and organisations to protect our historic and cultural sites such as Durham Cathedral for future generations. We look forward to working with Durham Cathedral for many years to come.’

This essential conservation project was made possible with grants from the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, The Alan Evans Memorial Trust, Allchurches Trust Ltd, Friends of Durham Cathedral, Sir John Priestman Charity Trust, Headley Trust and Surtees Trust, as well as kind donations from a number of individual supporters.

Keep an eye out on social media (@durhamcathedral) for ticket information and exciting competitions.