Topping out St James NB March 2016

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undefinedThe Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Les Rowlands, ‘topped out' the restored spire of St James' church in New Brighton. The occasion marked the ceremonial completion of the project, which has seen the landmark spire completely rebuilt.

The total cost of work has been over £400,000 and was made possible through a Heritage Lottery grant of £250,000. The rest of the expense was met by the church’s energetic fundraising campaign, known as inSpire.

Parishioners and the construction team gathered at the church at the end of March, for the topping out and a lunch. The Mayor ascended the full 172 foot height of Wirral’s tallest spire, to place the cross on top. The spire had become unsafe and has had to be dismantled and rebuilt.

The Mayor said: “I have nothing but absolute admiration for what you guys have done.” He praised the “love and dedication” of the parish family in getting the restoration completed.

St James’ is the parish church of New Brighton. It was designed by the eminent Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. The building, which is Grade II listed, was opened in 1856 as an integral part of the development of New Brighton by the resort’s founding fathers.

A guidebook which tells the history of the church has been produced by the parish. The book shows how the history of the building is intertwined with the history of New Brighton itself, and includes a beautifully photographed guide to the main features of the church.

Richard Wilberforce, chair of the St James Restoration Committee, is the editor of the book, which is available for purchase at £3 from the New Brighton Heritage Centre, which is based in the church, located between Albion Street and Victoria Road.

A special poem, dedicated to the craftsmen working on the project, was written by Angela Adam, a member of the PCC, the choir and the parish FoodBank team. Her late husband was involved in starting off the restoration project and securing funding.

ABOVE - Wirral Mayor Les Rowlands adds the cross to the top of the restored spire at St James' church, New Brighton, as Richard Wilberforce, chair of the restoration committee, looks on

BELOW - the two men talk to parishioners, guests and craftsmen in church before a celebration lunch for the 'topping out'