First look at the results of the repair work to Durham Cathedral’s central tower, ahead of its Saturday reopening

Baldwins are delighted to be sponsoring the reopening of Durham Cathedral’s Central Tower. At 10am on 1 June, the doors of Durham Cathedral central tower finally reopen to the public, bringing the lengthy three-year conservation programme to a close.

Members of the public will for the first time be able to see the scale and intricacy of the work, which has been completed by Durham Cathedral’s dedicated team of in-house stonemasons and the cathedral’s conservation architect.

A significant part of the repair work was in response to finding heavily weathered and eroded sandstone, partly as a consequence of Victorian conservation techniques, on the upper parapet and at bell chamber level during a routine five year inspection.  The new ‘blaxter’ sandstone which has been hand-carved and installed, will be instantly recognisable to visitors once they reach the 325th stair at the pinnacle of the climb.  The stone was supplied by County Durham based Dunhouse Quarry and is geologically the same as that used centuries earlier.  It does appear lighter in colour, creating a beautiful contrast with the darker, weathered stone.

The Very Reverend, Andrew Tremlett Dean of Durham, said: ‘Excitement is building at Durham Cathedral as we prepare to welcome an influx of new and returning visitors, keen to take in the breath-taking views of Durham City and beyond from our central tower, which is now more distinctive and characterful than ever. Saturday will signify the start of a new era for the cathedral and the community of Durham, with special memories being made from the moment that visitors take their first steps onto the all-new viewing platform. Saturday will also provide the opportunity for visitors to reflect on the rich history of the central tower, as handy interpretation boards will be in position in the stairwell corridor, offering a welcome break while visitors catch their breath at the mid-point of their climb.’

David Baldwin, Board Director, said: ‘I’m delighted that we are sponsoring the re-opening of the Tower.  It’s so important that we all work together to preserve iconic buildings such as Durham Cathedral for future generations.  As a business, we’re passionate about working with local communities and organisations to protect our historic and cultural sites and we look forward to working with Durham Cathedral for many years to come.’

The work was carried out by the Cathedral’s in house team of stone masons with specialist contractors engaged when required.  Working to a scheme developed by the cathedral’s conservation architect, Chris Cotton of Purcell, suppliers and contractors include Arbour Timber, CEL Leadworks, City Fabrications, Dunhouse Quarry, Mech Plant, Northern Counties Safety Group, Taylor Hastwell, Topp & Co, and the Wood Group who constructed the complex scaffold that has enveloped the tower for the previous three years.

People planning on climbing the tower on Saturday will be following in the footsteps of the Prested family from Belmont, County Durham,  who won the Northern Echo reader competition to be the first family to step foot on the shiny new walkway at 10am. All important information can be found at: Tickets to climb the central tower are available from the visitor desk inside Durham Cathedral from Saturday June 1.