Safety first for spire work today

OLD photographs of Torteval Church have come to light that give a fascinating glimpse into how much more simply, but riskily, work was done in days gone by.

A scaffolding array which now adorns the church’s tower and spire to enable essential repairs took nine weeks to erect.

The images show that health and safety in the past was not such a priority.

When Bob Thompson came across the photographs, he decided to send them to the Guernsey Press.

‘They were displayed at the Spirit of Torteval Exhibition in 2006, but when they were taken I couldn’t say,’ he said. ‘I thought that one of them involved changing the weather vane.’

Churchwarden David Robilliard was able to help by providing dates .

The photo that shows the spire surrounded by a primitive wooden structure was taken in 1910, he said.

‘There is a man at the top of the spire, but if you look closely you can see a woman in a long dress at the top of the tower,’ he said.

The image which features simply a ladder was taken in 1977.

Mr Robilliard said church records showed that a firm of London steeplejacks, J. Smith (Southern) Ltd, was employed to repoint the spire.

‘There was no scaffolding at all then, which could be the reason why the work was not particularly effective,’ he said.

The current project is expected to cost more than £500,000.

Money from the constables’ account, the church congregation and the rectory’s rent will cover £267,000 of the work, with the rest coming from a £300,000 loan.

Erection of the scaffolding was completed on Good Friday.