Work on iconic bell tower, costing more than £120,000, finishes five months late
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Vital repair and safety works to an iconic bell tower have finally been completed, five months behind schedule and costing more than £120,000.
Work on the Beccles bell tower, which stands proudly in the heart of the town, began in August last year.
Originally Waveney District Council agreed to pay £97,705 for the work to be carried out – expecting the tower to be signed off as safe to use by November 3.
However further stone work was found to be required and the completion date was pushed back to December.
The work was finally completed on March 5 with the final cost estimated to be around £123,000.
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A council spokesman said: “The roofing works has been the largest factor in delaying the completion of the contract and this is for a number of reasons.
“The original specification for the lead was incorrect and although the contractor was aware of this issue at the tender stage they did not raise the issue until late October.
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“The lead was ordered and the roofing contractor started his work eight weeks later than originally scheduled.
“Adverse weather conditions have also impacted on the schedule.”
The scaffolding, which has hidden the 16th century structure from public view for the past seven months, is expected to be removed by next week.
Graham Catchpole, cabinet member of operations and facilities, said: “The work has taken longer than expected and it is the nature of projects such as these that delays can incur extra costs.
“However we are pleased that it has now been completed and that the clock tower can now be revealed with a range of critical issues resolved.”
In August 2015 reports of loose and falling masonry prompted the council to appoint a specialist conservation surveyor to prepare a report on the work needed.
Among other findings the report outlined the need to replace the lead roof and the need for improvements to the draining system.
The town’s mayor Richard Stubbings said: “It’s fantastic they have spent the time and money investing in the tower – I Just wish it could have been done quicker.
“It’s great to have it back. You get the most amazing views form the top of the tower.
“Each time I am staggered by how much you can see – it’s the best way to view Beccles.”