• Nash Peake Works,Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 5BT England

A complex and high risk major repair made the more easier by a touch of kindness

St Thomas’ church Tower and Spire stands approximately 196 feet above ground level. The Tower is 33.83m (111ft) in height and the Spire is 25.9m (85ft) in height. The Tower and Spire is constructed from Brittany Granite and is of mid Victorian Gothic design. The Tower has stepped buttresses and incorporates the main entrance porch of the church with triple lancet window with a tracery rose. All four elevations have tall lancets to belfry complete with louvres. The corbelled eaves lead to the transition stonework to the Spire. Surmounting the Tower is an open worked Spire which incorporates two sets of four decorative Gothic type dormer openings complete with decorative finials. Closer to the summit of the Spire are eight rectangular openings one on each broach all on the same level. The Spire houses the main cross beam that supports the ornate Cast Iron Cross. There are a series of  steel rods, four in total, that are hooked under small decorative openings. The cross beam and rods provide the compression to the spire stonework.


Prior to 2019 St Thomas’ Church in St Helier Jersey was struck by Lightning. Rafferty’s were asked to visit Jersey to undertake a review of the current lightning protection system and to compare this with current design systems in accordance with BS EN 62305 and BS6651. A full design and risk assessment was carried out which revealed the existing lightning protection system fell far short of what was required to provide adequate lightning protection to the 196ft high Church tower and spire and main buildings. Subsequent to this Rafferty’s were employed by the Church to install a modern lightning protection system. The site was mobilised, specialist steeplejack access was installed and the work was started. It was during these works that it became apparent that more serious problems existed with the spire stonework and the Cross steelwork.


St Thomas’ Church spire and tower is positioned right on the main public highway in to the main town of St Helier. The Church employed the services of Colin Smith Partnership based in Jersey to project manage the works and to ensure the work carried out on this listed building was completed in accordance with Jersey law. The initial concerns faced by Mark Cashion of Colin Smith Partnership (CSP) and Nick Rafferty of Rafferty’s was the potential for a major safety incident that could result in danger to life due to unstable stonework and unsafe steelwork. On close inspection it soon became apparent that past substandard previous repair works have been undertaken in addition to this major stone finials that surmount the dormer openings on the spire were literally rocking on their stems, eventually when removed it revealed that the dowels and bonding mortar had completely perished. The church, the parishioners and the public were blissfully unaware that huge heavy stones  were wobbling precariously above their heads. But this was not the only problem. The steelwork which was originally installed when the church was constructed in the 1800’s, was heavily corroded and there was also serious doubt to its integrity. The open Spire had allowed the weather to take its toll on the steelwork causing serious corrosion attack to the main support for the Cross which also acted as the main compression to the Spire stonework. In essence the church was in a dire situation that needed to be acted on swiftly to avert a protentional major health and safety incident.

It was a tough project but it was great working with Rafferty’s and the quality of the effort and workmanship of the guys on site as well as Carl and yourself Nick is something that you should be very proud of!
Mark Cashion Project Manager – Coilin Smith Partnership.


Towards the end of 2019 Rafferty’s experienced Directors set about designing a scaffolding that was 1) capable of providing safety to the church, parishioners and the public. 2) that was designed in such a manner that the work could be fully completed without any safety incidents and 3) was far more cost effective than a full scaffolding from ground level. This was a huge undertaking when considering how close the church is positioned in relation to the main public highway. With many hours of discussions with Mark Cashion CSP and Canon Domonic Golding, we were given the instruction to proceed with the scaffolding installation. The men chosen to undertake the work were handpicked from our steeplejacks based on knowledge and experience. We arrived in Jersey at the end of January 2020 to start the much needed scaffolding works. Once the scaffolding was completed the Spire was considered safe with no possibility of stonework or steelwork falling to the ground. Everyone involved breathed a sigh of relief. We are told that our scaffolding was commented on by members of the Jersey government as being engineering construction achievement to be admired. Everything had gone perfectly to plan, then just as we were making plans to undertake the repairs the Covid virus struck in March 2020. This was a blow to the whole project as whilst we had made everything as safe as possible the loose stones and corroded steelwork were still in place and were needing immediate repair works. At this point it was decided that the project had to stop until we had clear guidance from both the Jersey and UK Governments.


With a massive effort made by Canon Domonic and Mark Cashion of CSP, Rafferty’s were back in Jersey end of June 2020 and were getting on with major refurbishment works. Additional scaffolding was installed to the full height of the interior of the spire to undertake the removal of the cross steelwork and to repoint the internal stonework. To remove the cross required the careful deconstruction of the spire stonework. The eight finials and supporting stonework were deconstructed, repaired and reinstated with new stainless steel dowels.

The cross support steelwork was replaced in stainless steel and the cast iron Cross refurbished and gilded. The full height of the external spire stonework was fully repointed and the top section rebuilt all as original. Whilst what is written here may sound simple and straight forward. However, it was a huge undertaking that required painstaking, meticulous attention to detail whilst maintaining the utmost attention to health and safety.

The team of six steeplejacks worked tirelessly to ensure that that the work carried out was to the highest standard possible.



Our steeplejacks worked hard 7 days a week to ensure the job was completed before the winter set in, the kind hospitality of Canon Dominic Golding and the Parishioners of St Thomas’ Church made this achievable. The Covid Virus meant that for certain stages of the works our men had to remain in the confines of the church property. The kind response from the parishioners and church members went beyond what anyone would ever expect. Home cooked food, cooked to perfection was delivered daily, our steeplejacks were offered choices of meals and deserts, they were being spoilt with kindness. This massively raised the morale of all our men on site and was a kindness that will be forever remembered in Rafferty’s long history.

“When we began the spire repairs, I was a bit apprehensive not having undertaken anything of that kind of works. The challenges certainly came at us from the outset but each time thanks to all involved we met them. The scaffolding really was a work of art and will be long remembered by the locals and myself. All seven of your steeplejacks who worked on site together with Carl on his visits made a great and lasting impression on us all. It really was a pleasure and a privilege to get to know your guys, They never gave us any cause for concern and were consistently conscientious in respecting the specific nature of the site.

Since the guys left last week we have already and several times commented how much we miss their quick humour and dare I say it also their Northern sayings! Their families can be very proud of them and so can you. Rafferty’s will be a name forever associated with St Thomas Church, Jersey.”
Canon Dominic Golding

Canon Dominic Golding
Catholic Dean of Jersey

ITV were involved in two separate filming of the work. The filming shows glimpses of the work that was carried out, but most of all we felt privileged to work for Canon Dominic and the parishioners who we cannot thank enough for the way they treated us. Also not forgetting Mark Cashion (CSP) who project managed the entire project, his involvement was invaluable.

Critical repairs being done to St Thomas’ Church Spire in Jersey

Golden cross reinstalled at St Thomas’ Church in St Helier after major repairs

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Our 70th Year in Business

Our 70th year in business has been fantastic, with turnover for both the steeplejack/specialist access division and lightning protection division far exceeding original expectation.

Showcased below are just a handful of notable projects which highlight the variety of specialist work that we have successfully completed in 2019.

Concrete Chimney Demolition – St Helens, UK

Successful completion of the demolition of a 91.5m high reinforced concrete chimney in St Helens, UK.

The demolition of this chimney was carried out in a piecemeal fashion down 20m above ground level using our innovative sliding band scaffold platform which enables the scaffolding to be lowered as the demolition proceeds. The bottom 20m of the chimney was demolished using a high reach machine.

Our team of steeplejacks worked tirelessly throughout this contract and completed the project ahead of schedule and to the complete satisfaction of the client who had this to say on completion of the contract;

“Dear Matt,

Firstly please thank the guys from me again, they did a remarkable job without any issues/incidents and well within timescales, they are a credit to your team!

Secondly thanks to you, Carl and Nick for the management of the project.”

Site Engineering Manager

“I would like to extend my thanks to the Cowley Hill Team & Rafferty’s for their outstanding execution of what was quite a challenging project.

The work was completed without any safety incidents and on budget / to time.”

Strategic Program Director

The time lapse video below shows the demolition from start to finish.

Brick Chimney Repair Works – Stockport, UK

Refurbishment works on a 66m high redundant brick chimney in Stockport, UK.

Rafferty’s were initially contracted to carry out a full external inspection of the chimney and were subsequently employed to undertake repair works within the clients budget restraints.

The repair work consisted of and included;

  • Restoration of the decorative chimney head stonework
  • Re-pointing the top 14m of the chimney with a lime mixed mortar
  • Removal and replacement of all steel retaining bands
  • Modifications and repairs to the lightning protection system

We captured some fantastic drone footage of this particular project which can be viewed below.

Concrete Chimney Demolition – Bow, London

Successful completion of a highly complex project to dismantle a 42m high pre-cast concrete chimney directly adjacent to a live railway line in Bow, London.

The controlled demolition or dismantling of any tall structure is usually a highly complex undertaking in itself however, place this structure directly next to one of London’s main railway lines (which had to remain live at all times) adds a whole other level of complexity.

The construction of this particular chimney consisted of a square reinforced concrete base which was surmounted by 24 No. pre-cast concrete rings which formed the external concrete structure of the chimney. Internally the chimney housed 4 No. steel liners. Our remit was to dismantle all 24 No. pre-cast concrete rings and the 4 No. internal steel liners, leaving the base in-situ for demolition by others.

Two sliding band scaffold platforms were installed at the termination point of the chimney which are specifically designed to enable them to be systematically lowered throughout the course of the dismantling process. The bottom scaffold platform was used to prepare each concrete ring for dismantling by exposing the tie rods connecting each section together. The top scaffold platform was then used to enable the dismantling of each concrete ring section. Each concrete ring section weighed 7T and required a 250T heavy lifting mobile crane to carefully dismantle and lower each section to ground level. When considering the close proximity of the rail line and the small and restricted area of the site itself, the positioning and slew restrictions of this large crane had to be determined with such precision that our in-house CPCS Appointed Person had to produce CAD drawings to detail it’s exact position, as every millimeter counted to ensure that the jib of the crane would not fall on to the live tracks of the railway line in the unlikely event of a crane failure.

Our methodology for the safe and controlled dismantling of this chimney underwent vigorous scrutiny by Network Rail engineers and consultants however, our vast experience in complex industrial chimney demolitions in live environments and the meticulous attention to detail applied throughout this contract from start to finish enabled us to completely satisfy all requirements and the project was subsequently completed ahead of schedule and without incident.

Church Lightning Protection System Upgrade

This particular Church has been struck by lightning several times in recent years and in 2014 a strike caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage. Rafferty’s were awarded the contract to design and install a complete lightning protection system to the church in compliance with BS EN 62305.

To install the lightning protection system access had to be gained to all levels and orientations of the church building. The church spire rises to a colossal 59.74m (196ft) above ground level and the upper most roof apex rises to approximately 30m (98.5ft) above ground level. Our steeplejack & specialist access division teamed up with our lightning protection division to provide a full turnkey installation project, using various forms of specialist access and rope access techniques. Our versatility when working at height avoided the need to install scaffolding from ground level to the high level locations of the church building which paid dividends for the client on this project, saving them tens of thousands of pounds in potential scaffolding costs alone.

On-line Steel Chimney Repair Works – Northern Ireland

Successful completion of emergency repair works to a 91m high steel chimney in Northern Ireland.

The works included the installation of specialist steeplejack access equipment and scaffolding to enable the dismantling and replacement of a deteriorated and unsafe steel up-stand at the termination point of the chimney. The replacement up-stand section was designed in-house and manufactured from stainless steel. It was designed in flanged & bolted sections to enable installation whilst the chimney remained in operation, avoiding the need for an unplanned shutdown and the requirement to hire a large and expensive mobile crane to lift the new section in to position. The full height of the 91m high steel chimney was also cleaned down and re-painted as part of the project.

Our innovative design and access methods along with our vast experience of working on chimneys that are operational ensured that this particular project was successfully completed without the need for an unplanned and forced shutdown, enabling the client to continue their 365 day, 24/7 operation of the chimney.

Brick Chimney Repair Works – Aberdeen, Scotland

Full refurbishment of a 40m high redundant brick chimney on a new housing development in Aberdeen Scotland.

The Riverside Quarter housing development in Aberdeen is being built on the site of what was once Davidson’s Paper Mill. The 40m high brick chimney which previously serviced the Paper Mill was constructed in the late 1800’s and is to remain as a heritage feature of the new development.

Rafferty’s were initially contracted to carry out a full external and internal inspection of the chimney and provided a detailed written condition report complete with recommendations for a longstanding repair solution to which we were subsequently employed to undertake.

The work consisted of a complete refurbishment of the chimney and included;

  • Re-pointing the full height of the chimney with a lime mixed mortar
  • Removal and replacement of all 19 No. steel retaining bands
  • Design & installation of a purpose made steel capping arrangement to fully cap off and seal the termination point of the chimney
  • Design and installation of a new lightning protection system in accordance with BS EN 62305

The client had this to say on successful completion of the project;

The chimney is looking great and can I also say that dealing with your men on site and your business in general has been very professional. I would be happy to recommend Rafferty’s to others if they required similar works to be done.

Dave Scott – Contracts Manager, Barratt Homes

Maintenance & Painting of 3 No. Fuel Silos – Scunthorpe, UK

Our specialist skills and versatility when working at height can be adapted to any tall structure and this particular project highlights the cost saving benefits of the services that we can offer to clients.

Rafferty’s utilised specialist access and rope access techniques to carry out maintenance and the complete re-painting of 3 No. fuel silo structures, avoiding the requirement and associated expense for extensive scaffolding access.

The photographs below show before and after photos of the re-painting works.

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Climbing for Industry for 70 Years

The year 2019 means that we can now proudly and officially state that we have been in business for 70 years!

The steeplejack and lightning protection industry has changed drastically since we originally established ourselves in 1949 and we are extremely proud to have helped spearhead the industry in the UK over the past seven decades.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our valued clients, suppliers, employees and stakeholders who have all played a crucial part in helping us achieve 70 years in business, it would not have been possible without them.

We hope to still be climbing for industry for the next 70 years!

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2018 A Year for Diversification

First and foremost we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

The year 2018 will see the Company achieve its 69th year in business. Whilst predominantly being a leading name in the industrial chimney and steeplejack industry since 1949, the Company is now looking to diversify in to other sectors of the service industry which are closely linked to the services we have provided throughout our history.


Lightning Protection

Since its formation the Company has consistently carried out lightning protection work but in 2017 Rafferty’s recruited key employees to bolster this sector of our business, most notably, employing Steve Jacques who has 22 years’ experience in the industry. Steve gained his experience working for arguably the biggest Lightning Protection company in the UK and he has been tasked to head up our lightning protection services department. With the addition of Steve and several others, Rafferty’s can offer our clients a full comprehensive service whatever their requirements are in relation to lightning protection. For further information about our lightning protection services please feel free to contact us or have a browse the lightning protection services section on our website.


Specialist Access Services

Our vast experience and specialised methods of working at height on industrial chimneys can be adapted to almost any type of high level structure. We are now offering a multitude of services in high level inspection, maintenance and installation for industrial or commercial structures. To view our full range of services in this respect, please feel free to browse the specialist access services section on our website and contract us for any enquiries.


Our Objective

The key to the success of our Company during its 69 year history is repeat business and we have achieved this by providing our clients with a personal and quality service which is second to none. The Company has always been (and still is) a family run business and this ethos is engrained throughout the Company and will continue to apply to all services we are now proud to offer.

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