A Key supplier of access solutions to all sectors of the construction industry

Exeter Cathedral

06 September 2013

For the first time in nearly 5 years the west front of
Exeter Cathedral will be free of scaffolding. 
The project has involved cleaning, conserving and in some cases
replacement of some of the medieval and later stonework and carvings on the
front of the cathedral. 

During this time Apex Scaffolding have worked closely with
the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral to provide suitable access scaffolding
which is sympathetic to the delicate nature of the building. 

A large proportion of the scaffolding could not be erected
from ground level and instead had to come off lower roofs, balconies and stone
features.  The planning of the works was
in 3 main phases externally with a large internal scaffold also giving access
to the inside of the rose window. 

The design process required close co-operation between our
contracts team, Optima Designs and the cathedral stonemasons to arrive at a
safe method of securing the scaffold without causing damage to the delicate
fabric of the building. 

The final design included a range of methods including tying
behind battlements, around towers, buttresses etc. all of which required
careful protection to avoid damage or staining to the stone surface. 

Internally, access was required to repair the magnificent
rose window and this was achieved by erecting a 20m high Haki system
free-standing birdcage with a cantilevered access to the face of the stone work
and glazing, whilst maintaining access for the public. 

Scaffolding to the upper sections of the window had to be
erected within the roof space of the cathedral; a challenge not only because it
was around 20m up but also because the max. tube length we could get in through
the doors and passages was 8’.  Our
scaffolders should certainly know the inner secrets of the cathedral by now! 

Throughout the period of the restoration we have had to
blend seamlessly with the day to day running of one of the country’s foremost
ecclesiastical buildings both as a place of worship and a major tourist
attraction. 

This entailed:


  • Segregation of the general public from the work
    areas and completed scaffolds.

  • Securing the scaffolds from un-authorised access.

  • Stopping work for services, prayers, wedding and
    funerals.

  • We even had to assist the cathedral staff to
    disguise the internal scaffold with white drapes to ensure that the big day for
    one bride was not spoiled by the works. 

The final deadline was dictated by the Antiques Roadshow
which is due to be filmed in front of the cathedral.  The last few lifts of scaffold were
dismantled to coincide with their film crew. 

The culmination was a panoramic view of the cathedral and
the west front from our scissor lift, revealing the West Front in all it’s
glory.