First glimpse of cathedral tower

FOR nearly two years, stonemasons and builders have worked tirelessly on a project which promises to change Suffolk's skyline forever.But their painstaking efforts have remained hidden from public view, protected by swathes of plastic and cocooned within a scaffolding shell – until now.

FOR nearly two years, stonemasons and builders have worked tirelessly on a project which promises to change Suffolk's skyline forever.

But their painstaking efforts have remained hidden from public view, protected by swathes of plastic and cocooned within a scaffolding shell – until now.

For sections of the sheeting surrounding the Cathedral Tower, in Bury St Edmunds, were removed at the weekend, exposing the completed corners of a structure which builders hope will become the pride of East Anglia.

Yet the rare chance to glimpse the work undertaken so far above the market town's horizon will last just days. At the end of this week, miles of scaffolding and sheeting will again be placed around the tower in preparation for the final stage of the project – once more shielding it from view for a further 12 months.


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"I am really pleased from the public's point of view that some sheeting has been removed," said Euan Allen, Millennium Project Co-ordinator.

"This is their brief chance to have a look at the tower and get an impression of what is going to be a very striking addition to the architecture of the town.

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"It can be seen from the Abbey Gardens and it really is quite stunning – the tower is beautifully fresh and clean, and what is visible at the moment offers just a hint of what will be there in 12 months time."

The project utilises Gothic design, traditional methods and materials, and is believed to be the only one of its type in the country.

Stonemasons and builders have been working on the ambitious £10million scheme for the past 18 months, and are confident the structure will be complete by early next year.

Prince Charles laid the tower's first stone in 2001, and labour since then has concentrated on intricate work enclosing a concrete core built at the site in the 1960s.

"Where people used to look up and see an crude, ugly, concrete stump, now they can see the stone work and the start of a beautiful tower," said Horry Parsons , team leader for Bluestone Plc, who are turning the project into a reality.

"And after the remainder of the scaffolding goes up, the tower will grow quite quickly over the summer."

Although progress at the site may have seemed slow to bystanders until this point, project leaders have promised work constructing the tower's remaining 80ft will be both prompt and highly visible.

By the time the covers are removed permanently next spring, around 20 miles of scaffolding will have been utilised to help turn long-running plans for the tower into a reality.

"Later this week, several miles of scaffolding will be put in at the site to support the work at a higher level," continued Mr Allen. "This will be fully sheeted, rising to around 120 feet, and a temporary roof will be placed on top so the masons can work during wet weather.

"When the scaffolding has been put up, it will be really noticeable that some work is going on."

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