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Restoring Glasgow Cathedral

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An extensive scheme to restore historic Glasgow Cathedral to its former glory continues to make good progress.

Historic Scotland is the main contractor on the scheme, and continues to undertake works as part of a major long-term project to conduct masonry repairs across the entire Cathedral. The scheme comprises stabilisation works, leaded glass works and general repairs.

The long running scheme was originally designed to last for 17 years however the planned programme has since surpassed its initial estimate and is now expected to run for a number of years to come. The current phase of the works is focused on the west front elevation, including the Cathedral’s nave and The Bell Tower.

Work on the west elevation of the Cathedral’s nave is complex and includes a number of elements, such as masonry repairs – including the removal of pollution crusts and deposits, algae and moss – along with stone indentation and replacements. Lead flashings are being replaced if they are either damaged or beyond repair, however the new lead flashings are being designed to match the original materials at the Cathedral.

As the stones on The Bell Tower – which is situated on the west nave – are heavily decayed, Historic Scotland is undertaking key works which ensure that the stonework remains in a safe condition. In order to facilitate the operation, Historic Scotland has erected a self-supporting scaffold on spreader boards, which requires no fixings to the masonry.

Work is also being conducted on the Cathedral’s weather vane, as well as a number of dislodged stones underneath the vane. Additional scaffolding has been constructed to address this element of the scheme.

Recent work on the Cathedral has seen the team focus on the east elevation of the choir, where heavy sulphate deposits – caused by pollution and the movement of moisture – have been addressed. Meanwhile, stone masons have conducted repair work on the Cathedral’s decorative pinnacles and decayed gargoyles.

Victorian repair work has been replaced and string courses – which had previously been repaired by Victorians – were improved. The removal of the Victorian compound has seen Historic Scotland’s in-house Conservation team undertake delicate work which has included the use of spatulas and tiny chisels.

The scheme to restore Glasgow Cathedral ties into Historic Scotland’s aim to care for the built heritage and to enhance and promote the use of traditional building skills. In addition, a number of apprentices are being taken on during the course of the scheme.

Glasgow Cathedral was built between the 13th and 15th century and is the only mediaeval cathedral on the Scottish mainland to have survived the 1560 Reformation intact. The Cathedral was built on the site where St Kentigern, the first bishop within the ancient British kingdom of Strathclyde was believed to have been buried in AD 612 and is highly regarded across Europe.

Glasgow Cathedral is open between 1st April and the 30th September for its summer season and then reopens on 1st October through to the 31st March for the winter season. For more information about Glasgow Cathedral, please visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk.

 

 

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