Roped access for conservation projects
|This conservation expert from WallWalkers climbs the Norwich Cathedral spire to conduct restoration work.|
In the 1980s, roped access technicians began to adopt caving and mountaineering techniques that deployed a security rope as an extra level of safety. This made it possible for users to carry their tools and equipment with them or request tools to be sent to the proper location by way of the other rope system.
 Scaffolding or ropes?
Although scaffolding has gained popularity for work at height, it can be costly, unsightly and potentially damaging to the roof or structure while creating obstructions for pedestrian and vehicular traffic below. There are also some instances where skyscrapers are so tall that scaffolding and platforms are impractical for maintenance, inspection and repair.
|Geophysicists and structural engineers work together to survey a historic façade using roped access.|
For modern buildings, roped access can be used for specialist purposes such as window cleaning on skyscrapers. It is also suitable for conservation or renovation tasks on older tall structures where preservation or inspection might be difficult or inconvenient to conduct on scaffolding or other structurally complex systems.
- Maintenance tasks required in difficult to reach or confined places.
- Work that needs to be completed in a timely manner (for both urgency and cost reasons).
- Repair work or research in situations where geophysical factors (such as historic mine works or other structural issues) prohibit the use of scaffolding.
- Projects that require the reduction of environmental, operational and structural impact.
|This view of the spire is from the Cloisters of Norwich Cathedral. Like the cathedral itself, these Cloisters are the second largest in England, only surpassed by those at Salisbury Cathedral.|
The cathedral’s first spire of timber and lead was completed in 1297, but was blown down in a storm in 1361. Another timber version was destroyed by lightning in 1463 and was rebuilt using brick faced with stone. It is this third surviving version of the spire that is the focus of the restoration project.
The cathedral is 315 feet (96 meters) high, including the weathervane, making it the second tallest in England after Salisbury Cathedral at 404 feet (123 m). Repair work is also taking place on the golden cockerel weathervane, which dates from 1756.
The spire has gone through many repair projects over the centuries, but the most recent took place in the 1980s. According to the Rev Dr Peter Doll, Canon librarian and Vice Dean of the cathedral, some of the previous restoration work has not maintained its structural integrity over the years.
The work includes repointing joints and replacing loose stone on the spire, replacing rusted iron structures with stainless steel, repairing damaged stonework and regilding the golden weathervane in gold leaf, which was removed in order to undertake the repairs. It is believed that the cockerel has not been taken down since 1963.
The restoration project is being undertaken by a specialty rope access heritage company. The father and son conservation team of Chris and Sam Milford use mountaineering techniques and carefully placed ropes to climb the spire.
Before undertaking the restoration aspect of the project, the Milfords had to scale the spire to set up the special rope system that would be used for the repair work. The system allowed the work to be carried out without the need for scaffolding.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
IHBC's Virtual Annual School 2021 MarketPlace stalls provide access to over 25 of the sector's most influential organisations. Book now to join!
IHBC’s 2021 virtual conference examines how we can best change and sustain places for the benefit of people, led by expert practitioners boasting international, national and local profiles and experiences.
The 2021 winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards have been announced.
England’s Housing Minister has announced a £1.1 million fund to test the use of digital tools and data standards across 10 local areas.
Created by the Local Authority Building Control (LABC), Front Door provides practical guidance on home improvements and renovations as well as technical advice on obtaining building control and planning approvals.
The Independent Commission established by the Governing Body of Oriel College on the memorials and legacy of Cecil Rhodes has reported.
A huge blaze has destroyed two Grade-II listed boatyards on a River Thames island.
The medieval shrine of St Amphibalus has been restored to its former glory, now with ‘a modern addition of a face wearing a face-mask to commemorate the shrine’s restoration project’ in the pandemic!
A section of the Ulster Canal, a disused canal in the border region of Monaghan and Fermanagh, will be restored and reopened as a public amenity more than 90 years after it was abandoned.
One of the most stunning Roman finds ever unearthed in Britain has been discovered on the site of a new housing development in a village near Scarborough.