By Marc Rath
THE familiar stonework of Bristol’s Cabot Tower is visible again after scaffolding which encased it as part of a restoration project was removed.
Scaffolding had surrounded the iconic structure on the top of Brandon Hill for months to allow workmen to carry out repairs to make it safe.
Most of the work is now complete and visitors will be able to climb to top of the 32m-high building when it reopens to the public in the middle of August following a three-and-a-half year closure.
Bristol City Council spokeswoman Helen Hewitt said: “The scaffolding is now down but bits and pieces, like boarding and contractors’ huts, still need to be moved off the site. This will be happening in the next week or so.
“Then there will be ground works to carry out to reinstate the grounds and flower beds. Then we will be looking at the historical earth works on the site. We are hoping to have the reopening in mid-August.”
Friends of Brandon Hill treasurer Fraser Bridgeford said a reopened Cabot Tower would be a boost for tourism in Bristol.
He said: “Three weeks ago I was up in the tower and we were taking photos of some of the work which had been done. They had just finished it.
“The major thing they were doing was replacing the metal staples which had been put in the stonework and had started to corrode.
“People are keen to get back up to the top of the tower. The reopening will be good for Bristol as a whole because it’s a tourist attraction.
“We’re looking forward to it reopening a lot and, hopefully, once the tower gets open, we can look at the ornamental gardens and get some improvements done.
“The Friends have already been working on some of the borders around and about it and doing some clearing and replanting.
“The water feature itself needs to be repaired because it’s losing water at the moment – this will be done first.
“We’ve also put in a bid with Community Spaces for a £50,000 grant to improve the old bowling green. We’re also in the process of creating an orchard and herb garden on the hill.”
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 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.
Work on the Grade II 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.