External refurbishment works to the spire of Grade I listed, St Jude’s Church in Hampstead Garden Suburb.


Central Square, London




MCo Group Ltd were instructed to carry out the full external refurbishment works to the spire of Grade I listed, Sir Edwin Lutyens designed, St Jude’s Church in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

The weathervane at the top of the steeple was dislodged by Storm Barney in November 2015, causing considerable damage to the leadwork of the 178 – foot spire and the surrounding structures on its descent. After extensive negotiations with Historic England and a local fundraising effort the weathervane replacement and a programme of fabric repairs was agreed.

Our works involved the erection of full access scaffold to all four sides of the bell tower to the base of the lead spire, to enable repairs and replacement of the tower leadwork and the weathervane by steeplejacks and an extensive programme of brick and stonework repairs, repointing and cleaning to bring this beautiful church back to its former glory. We also erected a birdcage scaffold to the interior of the bell tower to remove all guano and enable structural repairs to the fabric internally, and the replacement of all grilles to all openings to avoid bird roosting.


Initially the scaffold was due to be to the full spire height and completely free of support on the spire structure, but it proved impossible to do this as a fully self – supporting structure. Following various head scratching and discussions with engineers / client / architect and steeplejacks it was designed so we could get as high as we could “ self – supporting” Once the scaffold erect ion commenced the scaffolders were dive – bombed by Egyptian geese who had nested and had young chicks within the base of the spire within the tower – we sought a swan – based charity to com e and collect them to rehome them to a local pond and made a suitable donation – they did come back, laid more eggs and we had to do the same again! Once scaffold was erected safely, a full condition survey was carried out in conjunction with the architect to assess the extent of repairs and remedial works required. During our surveys, we discovered extensive structural cracking to all sides of the bell tower and an unknown void within, essentially it was built single skin – a huge issue which left the building at risk from high wind.

We sought help from the supply chain and carried out invasive tv investigation to confirm the structure, then sought a specialist design engineer from helifix to design out suitable “sock ties” to ensure the structure was left sound, along with extensive programme of Heli bar stitching works and the tower was repointed to approx. 90% with lime mortars agreed with EH following various samples. Works and costs were agreed in a very short space of time with the client team, and thanks to the donations from the local community and the dedicated work from our supply chain / site team we carried out these vital additional works within the already agreed construction programme – to note the project uplift was in excess of £150k within the same timescale.

We also sourced, had cut, and fitted natural stone repair pieces to the stone bands within the timescale using our supply chain knowledge, as the supplying quarries were quoting 16 – 20 weeks to provide the stone which was well outside of the contract period. Once all the major works were carried out the steeplejack and marine engineer who designed the new fixings and made a copy weathervane installed the newly made/engineered final.

The Church holds a yearly festival on the adjacent land and the performers require use of the carpark and church facilities during their performance. We worked with the organisers to ensure that any noisy works were stopped during the festival, and adapted our site set up to allow all required access for the duration of the festivities. Project duration was 16 weeks and an end value of £351,000.00 excluding vat from an original scheme of £190,000.00 excluding vat due to the structural works required – as always, our relationships with the supply chain are what enabled us to design/complete on time.

The final piece of the puzzle, was delivered and installed following a long absence of several years due to storms when it fell to the ground.

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