Over a year’s hard work in fund raising and restoration culminated in the restored clock face on the north wall of the tower of the Church of St James the Less being revealed in all its glory in August 2010.
In early June 2009 an eagle eyed parishioner noticed that something was dangling from the tower of St James the Less beneath the clock. Closer inspection revealed that it was part of the substantial timbers onto which the clock face was fixed. The area was roped off and a notice put up to warn of the potential danger. A builder was called in to assess the damage and to provide an estimate for the repair. Details of the problem and cost of repair were given to the Parochial Church Council. After some discussion it was decided that the full extent of the problem would only be known when scaffolding was erected and the clock face removed. Additionally as a large part of the cost of repair was in the scaffolding and the removal of the clock face (which would need to be done by a qualified clock repairer), an opportunity existed to renovate the clock face at the same time, cost permitting back to its original condition. There was also a need to address the inadequate down pipe on the tower which was regularly becoming blocked. A new estimate was obtained of £6000 for the complete works. The PCC agreed that all of the works should be done at the same time to maximise the use of the scaffolding and to make the tower safe and secure.
Now began the long task of getting permission from the diocese to do the work and spend the money. The diocese has a process rather like the normal planning permission that we all go through to have work done on our houses. In this case it is called a Faculty. Once granted the work can go ahead. However, we are required to put up notices to inform the public and allow them to object. This process took until March 2010, the best part of nine months before the Faculty was granted. Only now could the work actually begin. To be fair to the diocese it should be said that the work could not have gone ahead anyway during the winter months as the weather conditions would not have been right for mortar to set and to enable men to work safely on the tower.
Doing the work was only part of the process, paying for the work presented its own challenges. Many people contributed to the fund for the repairs and our thanks goes out to them all but special mention needs to be made of Joyce Barber who gave generously before her death and the Alan Evans Memorial trust who gave £500. Additionally a bottle stall was held at the Castle Green celebrations on the 5th September at which £166 was collected.
Bob Bates (Churchwarden)
Parishioners gathered under the renovated clock for a short service of dedication before Harvest Festival on Sunday 26th September.