Cathedral tower unveiling delayed

A MASSIVE project to crown Suffolk's mother church with a £10.3million tower may not be finished for nearly a year after being hampered by delays, it has emerged.

A MASSIVE project to crown Suffolk's mother church with a £10.3million tower may not be finished for nearly a year after being hampered by delays, it has emerged.

Originally scheduled for completion early in 2004, the scaffolding cocooning St Edmundsbury Cathedral's millennium tower will now remain in place until next summer.

Bosses masterminding the ambitious four-year scheme said difficulties accessing the site, currently around 100ft above the historic town of Bury St Edmunds, had contributed to the delay.

Unseen extras, which surfaced as craftsmen worked on the project designed to complete the country's only unfinished cathedral, were also a factor.


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"At the end of the first phase earlier this year, cleaning up work took place and a temporary roof was constructed to protect what had already been done," said Euan Allen, project co-ordinator.

"This turned out to be a more difficult and time consuming job than first expected, taking between four and six weeks longer than we estimated.

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"We were also limited as to the skilled labour force we could get up the tower to complete a very intricate engineering design.

"We therefore felt it would be wise to extend the completion date until June so nobody held false assumptions the project would be finished earlier.

"But, having said that, work is progressing fairly rapidly now, but no-one can yet tell whether any time will be made up over the coming months."

Mr Allen said that quality, as opposed to speed, had always been a key priority in the project, which began in 2000 and will eventually see a 150ft tower shaping the town's horizon.

"It is better to have quality than rush this," he added. "We are building something for the next millennium, and no shortcuts will be taken.

"The outline program aims to finish the main building work by next June, but a lot of things can still go astray in that time."

Mr Allen said the delay would not affect the overall cost of the build, with contingencies made within the £10.3 million budget for such problems.

And he added work on the cloisters, for which £550,000 in Lottery funding was secured last week, should also be completed by next June, with the experience craftsmen have already gained while working on the 500-year-old building helping speed the process through.

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