By Marc Rath
Scaffolding which has encased the landmark on Brandon Hill for months is now being brought down.
It is understood the public may be able to climb to the top of the tower for the first time in three-and-a-half years by the middle of August.
Once the scaffolding is removed and the base of the tower is re-pointed, the area around the iconic structure will be landscaped ahead of the much-anticipated reopening.
Conservators have been busy carrying out vital work to the tower to make it safe since the beginning of the year.
Investigations found severe cracks in the outer sandstone wall in the upper section of the 32m tower, and much of the embedded ironwork was badly corroded, causing it to become unstable.
The work has involved filling and repairing cracks in the sandstone outer walls, adding a new layer of asphalt to cover the floors of the viewing balconies to protect them from the elements, repairing and replacing the tower’s windows and repairing broken steel and stone work.
The very top of the tower – the angelic Lady of Commerce – is also getting a makeover.
A new copper conductor will run down her back and through the centre of the tower to protect it during lightning strikes.
ork on the grade two listed building started on January 8 after an Evening Post campaign to help save it. It will cost about £420,000, including £200,000 from English Heritage, £150,000 from the council and the rest from grant funding.
Bristol City Council spokesman Pete Wood said: “Scaffolding is in the process of coming down over next few weeks.
“Contractors will then look at the base of the tower to look at re-pointing, etc, before fencing around base of tower is removed and the whole site is cleared. It is due to finish by the middle of August.”
The tower, which closed in 2007, was built in 1896 to mark the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s voyage to Newfoundland.