Removal of the weather vane from the tower of St Paul's Dockyard Church at Sheerness
The weather vane removed from the top of Sheerness Dockyard Church is in good condition – and much bigger than it looks from the ground.
Cranes were on scene to remove the wonky structure on Friday ahead of emergency work to repair the building.
Ben Coulson, of Liftec, and Peter Marchington, of Powerlift, attach straps to the weather vane
Ownership of the Grade II* listed church was transferred to The Spitalfields Trust in July after Swale council completed a compulsory purchase order.
The plan is to convert it into a community facility and small business units.
Removing the weather vane was the first step as its precarious position meant access to the building had become dangerous.
Now it has come down, experts will be able to go inside and properly assess what needs to be done to stabilise the shell.
This emergency work, which will cost between £10,000 and £15,000 and will hopefully be funded by English Heritage, is due to start in the next month or two.
It is thought the cost of the complete restoration will be in the region of £5 million.
It will be the first job of a newly formed preservation trust, which will shortly take over the St Paul’s church to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant.
Will Palin with Brian Hole and Oliver Leigh-Wood, of The Spitalfields Trust, Tony Coulson, of Liftec, Peter Marchington and Mike Sheahan, of Powerlift, with Ben Coulson and Neil Bull, of Liftec, and the weather vane
Will Palin, a Spitalfields trustee and resident of nearby Naval Terrace, said: “The emergency works are really important so we can get a proper idea of exactly what needs to be done and be secure in the knowledge it’s not going to get any worse.
Will Palin brings refreshments
“Taking the weather vane down went really well. It took a couple of hours.
“It’s much larger than it appeared from the ground.
“The pole is enormous, about 15ft long, and the actual vane itself is beautiful bronze and copper construction and is the highest quality.
“It’s in pretty good condition and the part which spins round still works perfectly well, even after all these years.
“We are all very positive and these little things now and again keep the sense of momentum going.
“It’s a project which is going to take a long time.”
The weather vane, which has been lopsided since a huge fire badly damaged the 19th century church in 2001, will be reinstated, in an upright position, once renovation work is complete.