Essential restoration and renovation works have begun on the West Front.
To enable these works, a specially designed steel podium deck, by specialist architectural steel fabricator firm MAP Engineering, will be erected on the West Front of the Cathedral.
The scaffolding, which has been created by Grimsby-based specialist scaffolding firm PMC, will be erected to create a workshop 7m above the ground to enable the conservators access to the stone and rare carvings that are being restored. The Cathedral will remain open as usual throughout the duration of the works.
The work is being undertaken as part of Lincoln Cathedral Connected, a heritage lottery-backed project to improve the Cathedral’s setting and visitor experience.
The West Front works involve the conservation of the beautiful 14th Century ‘Gallery of Kings’, which is the carvings of eleven kings sat above the largest door of the Cathedral, the conservation of the gable at the top of the West Front, and conservation works to the 12th Century Romanesque Frieze.
Some initial conservation work began to the West Front back in 1983, which left the southern run of the Romanesque Frieze covered to protect the Romanesque sculptures, which date back to 1123-1148.
The scaffolding will incorporate a steel platform from which works will be carried out. Designed by engineers Elliott Wood, the platform will allow the Cathedral’s Works Department to access and remove the covering boxes and to unveil part of the Romanesque Frieze for the first time in nearly 35 years.
Anne Irving, programme manager of Lincoln Cathedral Connected, said: “Following our successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, we are really excited to see the significant work to the West Front commence, which is essential in allowing us to continue to protect the Cathedral.
“The Romanesque Frieze on the West Front has been covered for many, many years so this work to unveil the carving and stone work has been a long time coming and I can’t wait to see what we refer to as the ‘workshop in the sky’ in place. It’s an exciting time for the Cathedral and it is fantastic that we have the funds available to do these necessary and important works.
“It’s vital that we preserve the rich history of the Cathedral, which has stood over Lincoln for the last 900 years. Whilst the scaffolding isn’t ideal, the public can be assured that it is necessary in preserving and protecting the Cathedral, which will remain open so we still encourage visitors to come and visit.”
The Cathedral’s works manager, Carol Heidschuster, said: “We welcome the final push of restoration on the West Front and the works department is excited to have the opportunity to work on such a prestigious carving. This restoration work will also provide the opportunity for training future stone masons and conservators.”
The Lincoln Cathedral works department is undertaking the West Front conservation and repair work, which is expected to reach completion in 2023.
Other upcoming works as part of the Connected project involve the landscaping of Dean’s Green to create a new public space, the new visitor centre which will include a larger café and shop, new toilets with changing facilities and an interpretation centre to display some of the Cathedral’s treasures.