FEARS THAT a 46m church spire could collapse at any moment led to the evacuation of over 50 residents from their homes on the outskirts of Birkenhead earlier this week.
William Jones structural consultant Peter Moffatt told NCE that the spire was cracking and that there was a real danger of imminent collapse, especially during high winds. He added: The evacuation must continue until at least this weekend when we hope to have completed emergency stitching of the spire.
The 150 year old, eight sided tapering spire of Christ Church at Oxton is formed of 600mm long sandstone blocks. High winds last Friday dislodged one of the blocks about 6m from the top and 2mm wide horizontal cracking was noticed at the same point extending half way round the spire. It is thought the cracks originally formed during Decembers gales but have only just been discovered after growing wider last week.
The entire 100t upper 6m section of the spire could collapse and access scaffolding is now being hastily erected inside the hollow structure. Repairs involve bolting 1.2m long steel channel sections on to all eight faces of the spire either side of the cracks. Vertical tie rods between the channels and across the cracks will stitch the two sections together until more permanent external stitching can start.