St Peter’s Church High Elevation Works

Bell 1-001

After nearly 100 years since it was built the fabric of St Peter's Church is fundamentally in very sound condition but it needs work to rectify some wear and tear caused by exposure to the weather.

The activities that will be completed during the second half of 2013 include repairing all brickwork joints on the front wall of the church and the sides of the towers, erecting a cast bronze cross on the top of the church front wall, restoration of the church bell, repairs to thirty five lead light windows, painting of all exterior timber and concrete features on the front wall of the church and the sides of the towers and waterproofing the front wall and towers where rainwater leaks have occurred in several places.

With very few exceptions, the required works can only be done with the benefit of fixed scaffolding to top of the exterior walls of the church. To rationalise as much as possible the cost of the scaffolding the works are being concentrated into two periods. The works on the front wall and towers of the church will be completed during July and August. The works on the high windows on the courtyard side of the church will be completed during September and October.

The contractors engaged for the works all have specialist expertise and extensive relevant experience. They include Dwyer Heritage Restorations (erection of the new cross, brickwork restoration and window carpentry), Crawford's Casting (production of the new cross), Heritage Decorative Glass (leadlight glass) and Tower Clock Services Australia (bell).

Brickwork

The outside edges of the joints in the original brickwork of the church front wall and the side of the east tower had worn to the point where they were colonised by vegetation. There were ferns growing in numerous places and a potentially destructive fig tree was growing above the statue of St Peter at the top of the front wall.

The mortar joints in the red brick arches on the front of the church wall and the sides of the towers are being restored by tuckpointing, in which the white lines of mortar in them are thinner than the spaces between the bricks and stand slightly above the surface of the wall. Elsewhere on the church front wall and the sides of the towers the brickwork joints are being repointed with the mortar flush with the surface of the brickwork and the same width as the spaces between the bricks.

The brickwork component of the project also includes waterproofing the tower parapet walls to stop rainwater leaking through them into the church and waterproofing several window sills where water is leaking through to the interior of the church.

Bronze Cross

The original stone cross at the top of the front wall of St Peter's Church was destroyed by a lightning strike several decades ago. A new bronze cross will be erected in the same place as the original and protected by a lightning conductor so that it should be able to survive a lightning strike without damage to the cross or the church.

Bell

When the current works were being planned the original bell was still in the bell (eastern) tower but it had been inoperable for many years. The bell had dropped from its mountings because its timber suspension structure had rotted. If the bell had fallen further it might have caused damage to the church below.

The bell is being taken out of the church for cleaning and fitting of a new steel suspension mechanism. When it is reinstated it will be rigged for manual ringing as it was originally, and will also have a programmable electric striker that can be set to operate automatically at fixed times, such as for the Angelus. With manual ringing the sound is made by rolling the bell so that it is struck by the clapper inside it. With electric striking the bell stays still and the sound is produced by striking the outside of it with an electrically operated hammer.

Leadlight Windows

Twenty of the leadlight windows were fitted originally with external steel mesh screens. At the time the current works were being planned the screens had almost completely disappeared because of rust and they had caused unsightly staining of the brickwork below the windows. The restoration project includes cleaning the windows and the brickwork and fitting replacement brass screens. This is particularly important for the fifteen high windows on the courtyard side of the church because they are exposed to hail storms.

Almost all of the timber framed windows have some rotted timber that will need to be replaced and painted.

All of the steel framed windows require treatment of the steel to remove rust and apply a preventative coating.

In some windows there are one or more leadlight panes that have buckled and have to be taken out for straightening.

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