Milestone day as major roof repairs start on Preston's tallest building

The first slate will be removed from the roof of Preston's St Walburge's Church today, as a major renovation gets underway.

By Catherine Musgrove
Thursday, 6th January 2022, 8:52 am

The church, which has the third tallest spire in the United Kingdom, and is the tallest on a parish church, secured a £250,000 grant for urgent roof repairs from the Catholic Confreres of England Wales via from Historic England in October, and since then, a raft of scaffolding has been erected to facilitate the work.

>>>Click here to read more about the £250,000 grant.

Now the work to replace the 13,000 slates will begin - with work set to last until July. In total 13,000 tonnes of Westmorland slate is needed, with 26,000 nails.

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But despite the grant, the church leaders and fundraisers still need to find thousands more, after an unexpected rule change.

A spokesman said: "Previous calculations accounted for us being able to recoup £66,000 in VAT. But now rules have changed, and any purchases after March won't qualify for the VAT being recouped.

"It means we're now well behind in our plan, and for that reason, we need to continue our fundraising efforts. We also have to think about the ongoing maintainence of the building."

For some time, the church has been offering people the chance to sponsor a slate, and has been offering people the chance to walk up the famous spire at £10 a ticket.

Scaffolding is up at the historic church

>>>Click here to see the views from a spire walk.

The spokesman added: "While the aim is to restore the church and make it safer, the spire walks also give people the chance to access and enjoy this very special building and share its outstanding heritage.

"It's important to remember that the church belongs to the wider community, to everyone, not just to the people who worship here."

The spire walks

The scaffolding can be seen for miles around

On January 15 and 22, visitors will be able to ascend the 309 foot (94 metres) high spire.

The times of access are 7.30pm to 8.30pm and e-tickets are £10.

After the ascent visitors will be invited to enjoy refreshments such as mince pie and mulled wine.

Tickets can be purchased online here.

Work is set to finish in July

For more information on the walks or sponsorship, contact: Walburga Weston [email protected] or call 07778 506 832.

The spire is the third highest in England