Bath Abbey restoration: Floor saved from collapse

image captionThe final stone was re-laid on Tuesday

The final ledgerstone to be installed in the restoration of Bath Abbey's historic floor has been laid, saving the structure from collapse.

The repair has been carried out as part of a £19.3m programme of work.

About 2,000 stones - including 891 ledgerstones - have been lifted and re-laid taking more than 20,000 hours.

The abbey's rector, the Reverend Canon Guy Bridgewater, thanked those involved and said he "cannot wait to welcome everyone back" to enjoy the space.

Parts of the floor had gradually been sinking for years before excavations in 2011 uncovered massive voids caused by thousands of church burials.

image captionIt is estimated that more than 20,000 hours has been spent on the restoration and relaying of the floor stones alone
image captionThe task has taken almost three years to complete

Work began in May 2018 to lift up the Abbey's floor stone by stone, fill in the voids, as well as to carefully restore and re-lay all 891 ledgerstones that make up the floor.

Felix Emery, from Emery Bros. Ltd, said: "We have been working on restoring the Abbey floor for two and a half years and in that time have lifted over 2,000 stones and shifted tens of thousands of tonnes of excavated earth and stone, all of this by hand."

Volunteers from the community and local universities have helped ensure the stones' positions, conditions and inscriptions have been carefully documented, providing insight into the people who lived and worked in Bath, as well as the visitors who came to use the spa waters in the 18th and 19th centuries.

image captionUnderfloor heating pipes are being installed throughout. Prior to this, the Abbey had to rely on a heating system that dated back to Victorian times

Engineering work is due to start next week on an underfloor thermal system, which will use Bath's famous hot springs to heat the Abbey.

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