Church of St.Mary Cottonstones
The Church of St Mary is located in the small hamlet of Cottonstones, high in the Pennines above Halifax. The church is Listed Grade II and opened in 1846. The building was radically re-ordered in 1980’s but unfortunately some repairs and improvement works carried out, no doubt at a significant cost, were damaging to the historic fabric.
The Condition Report prepared by English Heritage in March 2005 indicated that despite repairs to the church at various stages in the past, cracks were reopening due to both erosion and structural movement. The stone cross at the tip of the spire was slightly inclined and the masonry bed joint some ten courses down had re-opened with a number of the stones damaged. This suggested the top ten courses of masonry were being jacked up by advanced corrosion of the iron cross tee. At the base of the spire the plinth and broaches had significant open joints.
A survey undertaken by Richard Crooks and consulting engineers identified that there was significant ongoing settlement affecting the whole church structure. The masonry to the stone courses of Tower corner piers was thin, not fully bonded into the main tower structure and could be easily dismantled by hand so the weight of the spire was being transferred via the massive spire plinth stones to the inner skin only of the tower walls. This had caused the plinth to bow opening up the joints and allowing the weather into the core of the walls and in places through to the inside of the tower. Strengthening of the base of the spire proceeded using Cintec stitching bars and each corner pier dismantled and rebuilt in turn incorporating stainless steel dowels and solid mortared rubble infill before repointing. The top ten courses of the spire were rebuilt incorporating a new stainless steel cross tee and tie rod; the stone cross repaired and the full spire repointed. To address the generally poor quality of the masonry to the upper stage of the Tower and the presence of such large openings on three sides the walls were partially grouted and horizontal stiffening frames installed internally.
The repairs were undertaken in three phases spread over five years and all with significant grant aid from English Heritage. Elsewhere other steel bracing was introduced to halt the spread of the main roof trusses and to the arches to the organ chamber at the east end. The Church has been completely re-roofed and new rainwater goods and underground drainage installed.