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Restoration buys valuable time for Kendal clock tower

[S]caffolding has been removed from Kendal Town Hall’s historic clock tower after a nine month repair and restoration project.

Stonemasons have replaced 188 eroded and crumbling sandstone blocks and carvings, more than double the original estimate.

The work, which involved a mixture of intricate and traditional stone masonry skills, took more than 4,400 hours to complete.

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) says the successful restoration of the most badly damaged parts of the clock tower will help to preserve it for generations to come.

Picture by Steven Barber

Councillor Matt Severn, SLDC’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Media and Leisure, said: “It is wonderful to be able to admire the clock tower which has benefitted from sensitive work of the very highest quality.

“Kendal Town Hall is treasured by local people and admired by our visitors. This work represents an important investment in a valuable part of our heritage, a much loved public building and civic centrepiece which continues to play an important role in our daily lives.”

The condition of the stonework worsened during Storm Desmond in 2015 when temporary safety barriers had to be placed outside the building.

Scaffolding was erected in June of last year, the clock was stopped and the bells silenced as the delicate work began to replace the damaged sandstone which dates back to 1892.

In order to keep disruption to a minimum, a temporary raised gantry was constructed across the front of the building, allowing work to continue without affecting the pavement below or public entrances to the town hall.

The restored clock tower

Paul Scullion from Lambert Smith Hampton, the property consultancy charged with managing the repairs and refurbishment on behalf of SLDC, said:

“This project has involved a number of highly specialist crafts people and stone-masons and has taken thousands of hours to complete. We feel very privileged to have been involved with the restoration of such a well-loved local landmark and hope the local community are pleased with the end result.”

The specialist team which undertook the repairs has 150 years of combined stonemasonry experience. They used more than 45 tonnes of Witton Fell Sandstone to replace the damaged masonry.

Architect Paul Grout, of Paul Grout Associates, says he was thrilled to see the scaffold coming down after a long and painstaking project.

“It has been a lesson in teamwork and I hope everybody is happy with the result.

“Oddly, I don’t mind if people look up and wonder what on earth we’ve been doing all this time, as it may look just the same. I would only ask them to look a little more closely and see if they can spot the new stones, all 188 of them, which have still to weather in.

“This is not the end of the road for the old clock tower, though. We have bought ourselves a bit of time but the sandstone will continue to deteriorate and it will need further attention by others over the coming decades.

“But let’s not think about that for now. Let’s just clear the decks and enjoy those bells ringing again.”