In the heady days after the town walls collapsed behind St Laurence’s on 18 February 2013, there were promises of immediate action to repair them and even Shropshire Council dipping into its pockets to fund the work.
It has been a long and arduous road since then involving tortuous discussions between lawyers and repairs to repairs (see previous articles). Finally, there seems to be agreement on who is responsible. The following press release has been issued:
The Parochial Church Council of St Laurence’s, Ludlow Town Council and Shropshire Council, together with their legal advisors, met recently to discuss the initial findings of the geophysical survey of land beneath St Laurence’s, so as to enable all parties to agree a process for carrying out repairs to the collapsed part of the historic walls of Ludlow, surrounding the closed churchyard belonging to St Laurence’s. Shropshire Council’s Natural & Historic Environment Manager, is coordinating further investigations and structural surveys required before the repair work can begin, on behalf of all parties.
It has been formally agreed that all the parties will work together, led by Ludlow Town Council, to manage the necessary repairs to preserve the historic site of St Laurence’s and maintain this part of the ancient walls, for the benefit of the people of Ludlow. A further update will be provided once investigations are complete.
There is still a long way to go.
There is a lot of delicate archaeology to be completed. But the bigger challenge is finding adequate funding. Estimates for repairs range from half-a-million pounds to two million. There are likely to be grants from bodies like Historic England and perhaps the lottery. But the bidding cycle is lengthy, typically in the order of a year.
The combination of archaeological work, fund raising and the need for a robust repair to a long neglected wall means that we are unlikely to see any reconstruction work next summer (the lime mortar used needs to be laid two months before any hard frost). So we are looking at spring 2017 before reconstruction work can start, a full four years after the walls collapsed.