The Story behind it…..
Southwark Cathedral is the oldest Cathedral Church building in London and archaeological evidence shows there was Roman pagan worship here well before that, dating back 606 AD.
Significantly, Southwark stands at the oldest crossing point of the tidal Thames at what was the only entrance to the City of London across the river for many centuries. It is not only a place of worship but also of hospitality to every kind of person: princes and paupers, prelates and prostitutes, poets, playwrights, prisoners and patients have all found refuge here.
The bells of Southwark Cathedral are rung regularly for the major services, and for other special occasions and practices by the Southwark Cathedral Society of Bellringers.
Although there are records of bells in the Cathedral from the early 1400s, the present ring of 12 bells dates from 1735. They were one of the earliest complete sets of 12 bells to be commissioned.
A thirteenth bell was added in 2005 to enable a lighter ring of eight bells to be rung.
The bells require various restoration, repair and replacement work to be carried out due to the age and condition of the bells. LIFT MINICRANES where asked if at all possible, could we help to provide a solution to getting the bells down from the tower, and out of the Cathedral to be attended to in ideal conditions.
The heaviest bell, or “Tenor”, at Southwark is in the top ten of the heaviest change-ringing bells in existence. It weighs in at 48cwt – that’s nearly two and a half tons.
Lowering the bells down from the tower using a sufficient “winching” system seems like the perfect solution? – it would be if the ground below would support the weight of the bell.
Unfortunately, the pulpit is directly below, and is over 500 years old and cannot be loaded with bells of this kind of weight without causing serious damage.
The nearest firm area of ground happens to be about 5m away from the point at which the bells would come down vertically. The only way into this area or out for that matter is through a door at 1.8m wide and approx 2.4m high.
After careful inspection, and a few clicks of the measuring tape – we arrived at a possible solution.
A UNIC/URW 706 can lift 2.4t over a reach of 7m, it can also raise and lower and move comfortably under load in such a narrow working area.
We can also use the spider crane on electric eliminating the exhaust fumes when in a public and pedestrian busy place. We can track the spider crane through the courtyard and navigate it up and down the cathedral steps to gain access in and out.
We can also get in a great position to help the team of experienced bell-hanging engineers to lift each bell onto a vehicle to be taken carefully away from the cathedral.
Let’s do it…..
We delivered our UNIC URW/706 6 tonne capacity spider crane to the Cathedral early in the morning, along with floor protection and a wide selection of timber sleepers, tracking mats and accessories.
We entered through the gate on Cathedral Street – with barriers set down to keep people clear and we traversed the steps.
We tracked the UNIC through the courtyard’s narrow walkways and up and down the steps, turning almost 360 degrees in many areas to enter through the small narrow doorway into the cathedral.
We laid down a very intricate system of floor protection, timber billets and rigger pads for protection and for the reduction of ground pressures – designed and planned with our team alongside the structural engineers from the Bell Foundry and Bell changing engineers.
Once in position, an all important dry-run was carried out to clear any doubt and check final elements that can sometimes have a habit of arising.
The bells came down to the pulpit one-by-one under complete control, and nice and slowly. Until each bell was ready for the weight transfer to the crane.
Our 706 spider crane was then directed to take the weight of the delicately slung, and impressively heavy bell.
The spider crane lifted the bell back, turned it round and positioned the bell on the solid floor area to be transported through the door using mechanical devices such as skates and trolleys.
The bells ended up on the back of a lorry safe and sound, and will return in the near future to be re-positioned and set back where they belong…..
If you have any logistical lifting nightmares – why not give us a call see what we can do for you….