It is not quite the Leaning Tower of Pisa – but problems caused by the Leaning Spire of Sheffield will soon be over after a Sheffield cathedral was granted £270,000 to make urgent repairs to the lopsided landmark.
Worshippers at the Cathedral Church of St Marie, in the city centre, have had their prayers answered after being handed the money by the Government.
Work to correct the building’s leaning spire is now expected to start next spring and will take around six months to complete.
Cathedral Dean Father Christopher Posluszny said the problem had been discovered by workers examining the cathedral’s tower around 18 months ago.
“They came back down and said ‘Can you sit down?’ They said the upper part of the spire is leaning,” he said.
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Wrought-iron rings that had been holding the structure together had started to corrode and further measurements revealed the spire was leaning more than previously thought.
The repair job for the work was expected to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds and Father Christopher said it was a ‘great relief’ to be granted the full amount to cover the repairs.
“It has been hanging over us how we were going to fund it,” he said.
Extensive work will have to be carried out on the spire – but the job should hopefully protect the building for decades and potentially centuries to come.
“The spire will have to taken down more than halfway down. Then they will be replacing the wrought iron with steel which should last longer,” said Father Christopher.
“We are waiting for an assessment of how long the work will take but it should all take place between spring and autumn next year.”
The cathedral, which dates back to 1850, last underwent substantial repairs around 1900 and Father Christopher said he hoped this latest work will be the last needed for generations.
He said: “It is a beautiful spire which is very slender and slim and that is part of why it requires strengthening inside to stay upright.
“The last time it has lasted over 100 years and this time around with the steel rings it should last a heck of a lot longer than that.
“It will be more stable than it ever was before.”
The money has been granted through the Government’s First World War Centenary Cathedral Repair Fund, which is handing out more than £8 million to 31 cathedrals in its latest funding round.
St Marie has qualified as it is planning a series of World War I commemoration events to mark its links with the conflict.
The Government fund was announced was set up in April this year in recognition of cathedrals being a symbol of Britain’s shared history, as well as the significant role they will play throughout the commemorations of the centenary of the First World War.