After 38 years, Salisbury Cathedral has shed its scaffolding, allowing tourists to experience its beauty as originally intended.
For Gary Price, the cathedral's Clerk of Works, the sight of the cathedral without scaffolding was an emotional moment. Now aged 55, having started as an apprentice stone sawyer at the age of 17 in 1986 when restoration efforts commenced, Price has spent his entire career dedicated to this project.
The project involved addressing significant erosion in the stonework, with some stones shrinking from 8 inches to a mere 2 inches. Reflecting on his involvement, Price expressed humility and honour at being part of such a monumental endeavour.
In an interview with Premier Christian Radio he said “It's a real privilege to have worked on the same building for nearly 40 years”
When I started in 1986, as a teenager, we were 0%, complete on our modern restoration program. [Now] we've gone all the way around the building, photographing, cleaning, and recording virtually every single stone on the entire cathedral… it's a big momentous occasion because for the first time in 38 years, there is no external scaffold visible anywhere on the cathedral”
Notably, the removing off the scaffolding has given the Cathedral a whole new aesthetic. Price pointed out how “where the scaffold was, it does look a lot smaller than we're used to because it's normally encased in scaffolding"
The cathedral's restoration journey mirrors its original construction, which spanned 38 years from its foundation in 1220 to its consecration in 1258. Now, after nearly four decades of meticulous restoration, the cathedral stands renewed.
Removing the scaffolding was no small feat, requiring months of work by dedicated individuals like Price and Lee Andrews.
In an interview with The Times, Lee Andrews, the head stonemason, said he left his mark on the cathedral by immortalising his late pet ferrets, Bo and Arrow, in stone. Other members of the restoration team, such as Carol Pike and Sarah Klopper, also contributed their unique touches to the cathedral's new stonework, leaving behind personal mementos and messages for future generations.
Despite the success of the restoration, concerns linger about the future of stonemasonry. Andrews said he "worries" about the "dwindling number" of young people entering the trade and emphasises the importance of passing down knowledge to preserve these architectural treasures for centuries to come.
As Salisbury Cathedral enters this new chapter free from scaffolding, it stands not only as a testament to architectural resilience but also as a reminder of the dedication and craftsmanship of those who laboured tirelessly to restore it to its former glory.