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A Tale of Two Tower Captains

Wood from the rotting flagpole has filled the roof gully

Monday 12th August 2019. The sound of dripping water is not unfamiliar to anyone used to frequenting old churches. The realisation that the water is running over ones newly refurbished bells is less familiar, but this was the situation that greeted me at St Andrew's on Monday. Heavy rain overnight had spilled out of the roof gully and through the belfry, making it's way relentlessly down to the ringing chamber.

Kevan Borlase and I were meeting at the church to fit the new sally jugs to the rope guide. That would clearly have to wait. Andrew Ogden from John Taylor & Co would be arriving later in the day and both Kev and I felt that he would not want to work under a steady flow of water.

A visit to the roof of the tower revealed the problem: the flagpole which had been taken down some years previously had been left to rot on the roof. Timber pieces large and small had been steadily making their way to the gully, where they sat undisturbed until they had risen above the level of the lead, thus allowing water into the belfry.

Two Tower Captains in Marigolds to the rescue! There was no option but to scoop all the junk out of the gully and dispose of it over the side of the tower. Needless to say this was a dirty and messy job but at least the rain held off and the views are quite spectacular.

The best way off the tower roof is open to debate. Some prefer to take the first few steps in reverse because they are very narrow and steep. This approach does allow you to close the door onto the roof as you descend but it also means that sooner or later you have to turn around, which is not an easy task. Others prefer to go forwards so that they can see just how precipitous the steps are, but this requires one to sit on the roof to get your feet through the door. My personal preference is for the latter which meant that on this particular occasion I was left with a wet backside for the rest of the day. Given that within a very short time I was crawling around on the wet floor under the bells (we still had to drop the plumb lines to fix the positions of the sally jugs) most of the front of me was wet too. But at the end of it all we had stopped the water getting into the tower and were just finishing of the sally jugs when Andrew arrived to start sorting out the bells. A good days work.


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