St James’ spire

The restoration of St James’ spire has begun!

In August the scaffolding started going up around the spire of St James’ church. And now no-one in New Brighton can fail to have noticed how Wirral’s tallest church spire has been enveloped in scaffolding, right to the top of its 172 foot height.

The purpose is to restore and make safe this nautical landmark, which has had to bear the brunt of storms for the last 160 years. But it won’t be a case of just doing a bit of repointing. No, the spire will be taken down – stone by stone – and then rebuilt. This is necessary firstly because much of the stonework has cracked or fallen away, and secondly because the Victorian cast-iron reinforcing bars have rusted and disintegrated. So the rebuilt spire will contain much new (but matching) stone and will incorporate modern strengthening techniques and materials. In other words, it will be good for another 160 years (at least!).

The spire should be completely dismantled by mid October. Imagine the skyline of New Brighton without St James’ spire! It will be a sight which no-one has seen since 1854. But get your camera ready because that sight will be short lived; the restored spire will start to be built immediately, and should be completed early in the New Year.

The cost of the work is over £400,000, and you may wonder how it is being financed. Well, it simply wouldn’t have been possible without a grant of £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. But that still leaves £150,000 which St James’ is having to find through fundraising by various means. Our fundraising campaign is called inSpire, which consists of concerts, fairs and other events. Do look out for inSpire events and support any that appeal to you. And if you want to simply give a donation, you can do it through the Just Giving portal on the church’s website, www.stjameswithemmanuel.com. The restoration of the spire will secure the future of St James’ and ensure that the church continues serving the New Brighton community for generations to come.

If you haven’t visited St James’ yet, please do so – it is open every day, and there will be someone from the church or the New Brighton Heritage and Information Centre to tell you about its magnificent architecture and history. Groups or societies can even arrange to have guided tours; simply go to the “Contact” section of our website, send us a message, and we’ll get back to you to arrange a suitable date. We want to share our heritage with the community we serve.

Richard Wilberforce