Tyne & Wear

Durham Cathedral tower reopens after three-year renovation

Durham Cathedral Image copyright Nick Martin
Image caption The body of St Cuthbert is enshrined in the cathedral as is the tomb of the Venerable Bede

Durham Cathedral's central tower has reopened to the public following a three-year renovation project.

The 216ft (66m) structure had been closed since November 2015 to allow for the restoration of stonework and the installation of a viewing platform.

The tower dates back to 1484 in its current form, and much of its sandstone had been heavily weathered and eroded.

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, said the reopening marked the "start of a new era".

He described the tower as "more distinctive and characterful than ever".

Cathedral tower with blossom Image copyright Chapter of Durham Cathedral
Image caption The cathedral attracts about 750,000 visitors each year

Work got under way in 2016 and has seen the protective wall at the top of the tower rebuilt, with the stonework of the belfry and bell chamber also repaired.

Rusty 19th Century iron railings have been replaced with bronze ones, while repairs to the tower's lead roof began in March this year.

The work has been done by the cathedral's own team of stonemasons, with specialist contractors also involved.

The erosion of the sandstone was said to be partly as a result of Victorian conservation techniques.

Scaffolding and cladding had covered the tower for much of the three years of the restoration project.

Among the superstitions relating to the cathedral, it is said to be unlucky for Durham University students to climb to the top of the tower before they graduate.

Stones on the central tower Image copyright Chapter of Durham Cathedral
Image caption The new sandstone, which has been hand-carved, is lighter in colour and project chiefs say it creates a "beautiful contrast with the darker, weathered stone"
Central tower stonework Image copyright Chapter of Durham Cathedral
Image caption For conservation purposes, only severely damaged stones were replaced
Central tower stonework Image copyright Chapter of Durham Cathedral
Image caption A 2013 inspection identified a number of areas in great need of renovation

All images copyright as stated.

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