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

Rafferty Steeplejacks to Appear on The One Show!

Tune in to The One Show tonight at 7pm to see Rafferty Steeplejacks giving Santa a helping hand to climb down what could possibly be the biggest chimney he has ever encountered.

The show will also be available on iplayer 30 days after transmission.

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Oil Refinery Shutdown Contract Awarded

Rafferty Steeplejacks have been involved in every major shutdown on this particular Oil Refinery since 1974 and we are delighted to have been awarded inspection & maintenance works on 4 No. reinforced concrete chimneys during this years shutdown turnaround.

The site work will commence in August with the shutdown planned to start at the end of September through to early November.

The chimneys covered under Rafferty’s remit include the following;

1. 122m High SRU Reinforced Concrete Chimney

2. 121.7m High HVI Reinforced Concrete Chimney

3. 120m High Platformer 3 Reinforced Concrete Chimney

4. 80m High CO Boiler Reinforced Concrete Chimney

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Rafferty Steeplejacks Attract Royal Interest

The Prince’s Trust is currently undertaking a £7.5 million capital project to regenerate the Grade II listed factory at Middleport Pottery in Burslem, Stoke-On-Trent. The site, which was described as “a national treasure” by the English Heritage has been in continuous operation since 1888 and is now the last working Victorian Pottery factory in the UK.

With the Middleport Pottery site being located only a stone’s throw away from our head office Tunstall, Stoke-On-Trent, Rafferty’s were delighted to be awarded with the contract to carry out a detailed inspection survey and full refurbishment of the 30m high Grade II listed industrial brick chimney located on the site.

Our initial inspection survey of the chimney was carried out using a mobile crane and man basket to enable safe access to all elevations of the stack. Our inspection revealed that the brick chimney was found to be in a structurally unsafe condition and in need of extensive refurbishment works.

The chimney head and blocking brickwork at the termination point of the chimney was found to contain deep, open and perished mortar joints along with severe fractures, bed-lifts and loose brickwork. The remainder of the chimney shaft brickwork below was found to contain shrinkage of mortar and perished mortar joints. Finally, the retaining band steelwork was also found to be in a very poor and deteriorated condition, with sections of the steelwork found to be loose and in danger of falling to ground level.

Rafferty’s promptly compiled a comprehensive inspection report and highlighted the defects evident on the chimney. Due to the unsafe condition of the retaining band steelwork and chimney brickwork at the termination point, Rafferty’s were quickly instructed to undertake the works and make the chimney safe.

As the chimney is a Grade II listed structure the refurbishment works had to be carried out under a strict specification provided by the English Heritage and conservation architects. The chimney head and blocking brickwork had to be carefully deconstructed and re-built using the existing brickwork to exactly match its original appearance. At the request of the architects, the only alteration would be the installation of two weathering courses at the top of the chimney head which were laid on creasing tiles to create a water-shed chamfer profile. All brickwork re-pointing works had to be carried out with precision from initial preparation of the mortar joints to the application of a English Heritage approved lime mortar. The re-pointed mortar joints were slightly recessed to reveal brick arris and following the application of the repair mortar all newly pointed joints were lightly sprayed with fresh water and then wrapped in hessian which was dampened down and left in position for a period of 3 days to keep the mortar joints moist.

The quality of Rafferty’s workmanship was independently inspected by architects on a weekly basis to which we achieved complete satisfaction. A brief outline of the chimney refurbishment works is detailed as follows;

  • Installation of specialised multi lift steeplejack scaffolding within the top 12m of the chimney.
  • Man riding cradle access was also installed to enable safe access to all elevations of the chimney below the scaffold area.
  • Careful piecemeal deconstruction of the termination point chimney head and blocking brickwork.
  • Complete re-build of the chimney head and blocking brickwork to exactly match its original appearance, incorporating two weathering courses of new engineering blue brickwork.
  • Raking out and re-pointing the full height of the chimney brickwork above roof level on all elevations using English Heritage approved lime mortar all as per the consveration architects specification.
  • Replacement of steel retaining bands and corner angle irons to match the existing manufactured from stainless steel.
  • Renewal of the lightning protection system to comply with BS EN 62305.

As the head of the Princes Trust, Prince Charles is regularly kept up to date with the progress of the regeneration works at Middleport Pottery and we were told that he took particular interest in the chimney refurbishment work being carried out by Rafferty’s. We sincerely hope that Prince Charles will be pleased with the work that we have carried out on this grand old chimney structure.

The following photographs show various stages of the work from the condition of the chimney before repairs to the final completion of all refurbishment works undertaken.




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Emergency Repair Works Underway Within 24 Hours

Rafferty Steeplejacks have recently carried out an external and internal inspection of 2 No. HRSG steel chimneys for a valued client on a power station in the South West of England. The internal inspection revealed that the 2 No. chimneys had started to buckle in a specific area on both stacks. Following further investigation works externally it was determined that the buckled areas corresponded to the position of external cladding rings which had been holding moisture and deteriorting the chimney shell externally.

The two HRSG steel chimneys stand approximately 65m high above ground level and have a diameter of 6.3m. With the strucutral integrity of these huge chimneys now hanging in the balance, Rafferty’s carried out detailed design calculations, formulated a suitable repair method and, to the relief of the client, mobilised a team of 8 highly trained steeplejack and welder plater operatives to site within 24 hours.  The two teams of 4 are now working in tandem on both chimneys and are carrying out structural plating and strenghening works thoughout the full circumference of the chimneys in the defective areas.

Rafferty’s unrivalled design capabilities and knowledge of steel chimney structures have proven paramount in this emergency situation and their employment of a highly specialised workforce have enabled a prompt and professional service to be provided at very short notice.

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Rafferty Steeplejacks Take Transport Seriously

The management of Rafferty Steeplejacks regard the transport of their labour and equipment as an intergral part of our safe and reliable service to our valued customers. Rafferty’s continually review, maintain and update their fleet of transport and have today taken delivery of a new £20,000.00 Mercedes Vito van. The new van can comfortably transport 3 steeplejack operatives along with large quantities of plant, equipment and materials required for all types of chimney work. The van has also been fitted with a custom made roof rack to enable steeplejack ladders to be safely secured to the roof of the van during transport.

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Boddingtons Brick Chimney Demolition Manchester UK

Realty Estates Ltd – Boddingtons Site, Manchester City Centre 2010.
Demolition of 55m High Brick Chimney.

In September 2010 Rafferty’s successfully tendered for the complete demolition of the iconic 55m high Boddingtons brick chimney in Manchester city centre. To be involved in the demolition of the Boddingtons brick chimney would always be done with a slight grievance by anyone associated with the steeplejack industry, as grand chimney structures such as this are now very few and far between. However, with all nostalgic feelings aside and the demolition unavoidable, we were delighted to be awarded with this high profile task.

Due to the densely populated location of the chimney, Rafferty’s 62 years of experience within the steeplejack industry was put to the test to ensure that the chimney was demolished safely, with minimal risk and no disruption to the general public. The method chosen by Rafferty Steeplejacks was to demolish the full height of the chimney in a piecemeal fashion, depositing all demolition rubble down the inside of the stack.

To provide safe and suitable access for the demolition, a moveable band modular frame scaffold deck was installed directly below the ornamental string course brickwork at the 45m level. Tubular scaffolding was then erected to the termination point to completely envelope the top 10m of the stack. Micro netting was installed at each scaffold lift to ensure that no demolition debris would become airborne and fall to ground level externally. With all scaffolding and safety equipment in position, the demolition could commence.

The Boddingtons brick chimney had three steel liners which ran throughout the full height of the brick structure internally. Therefore, before any brickwork could be demolished, the three steel liners had to be removed first. To remove the internal liners required the use of a 200 ton mobile crane. The crane would initially take the entire weight of each liner from the termination point of the chimney. The steel liner would then be hoisted approximately 10m above the termination point where it would then be supported. Once the liner was supported it would then be cut throughout its full circumference to enable the 10m section to be safely lowered to ground level. This process would be repeated until the full height of each liner was completely removed.

Once the internal liners were dismantled then the demolition of the external brick structure could proceed. However, the original designers and builders of this grand structure would not make life easy for anyone wishing to demolish it as they decided to incorporate a 3.6m high cast iron head with a 1.5m oversail within the brick structure at the termination point. Due to the age of the chimney the cast iron head could not be removed as one section as there was a potential risk of it splitting. Therefore, it painstakingly had to be supported and dismantled in a piecemeal fashion to ensure that maximum safety prevailed throughout this contract. Once the cast iron head was removed then the chimney brickwork could be demolished. This again was done in a piecemeal fashion with all rubble being deposited down the inside of the chimney. The modular frame scaffold arrangement was lowered in conjunction with the demolition until the chimney reached a height of 20m. The final 20m of the chimney was demolished using a high reach machine, transforming the Manchester city skyline forever.

Rafferty’s 62 years of tackling high risk works at high level proved paramount on this contract, with the entire project being successfully undertaken to the complete satisfaction of the client and without any safety incidents or disruption to the general public. Our long history of successfully completing chimney projects throughout the UK and the World is why this Company has remained ‘At The Top Since 1949’.


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The Sam Rafferty Award

In 2010 the Steeplejack & Lightning Protection Training Group created a top award for the best candidate in both the steeplejack and lightning protection training categories. The training group decided to call it ‘The Sam Rafferty Award’ in recognition of the late Master Steeplejack Sam Rafferty. This ‘best of the best’ award was given to Bradley Whitehead at the recent CITB awards ceremony. The picture below shows Carl Woodroffe, Contracts Director of Rafferty Steeplejacks, proudly presenting the award to Bradley.  

The Directors of Rafferty’s would like to congratulate Bradley for his achievements and for being the first candidate to win this prestigious award. We would also like to wish him all the very best for the future in his chosen career.

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Moorcroft Bottle Oven Restoration

Rafferty Steeplejacks are undertaking a complete restoration project of a brick bottle oven chimney in of the heart of the Potteries (Stoke-On-Trent). The structure, which belongs to Moorcroft Pottery, is over 90 years old and the restoration works have attracted the interest of the local Sentinal newspaper – please click on the following link to read artical. http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/news/Bottle-oven-restoration-coming-nicely/article-2987652-detail/article.html

Rafferty’s are very privileged to be involved in a project that helps preserve the heritage of their home city. The following photograph shows the second and third generation of the Rafferty steeplejack family, Nick Rafferty (right) and Matt Rafferty (Left), taking the opportunity to stand at the top of this now very rare structure.


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Rafferty Steeplejacks Demolish The Iconic Boddingtons Brick Chimney in Manchester

Rafferty Steeplejacks have successfully completed the demolition of the iconic 55m high Boddingtons brick chimney in Manchester, transforming the city centre skyline forever. The high risk project was completed without any safety incidents or disruption to the general public in this densely populated area.

Click on images to enlarge.


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Structural Repairs to 56.1m High Steel Chimney UK

Fertiliser Plant UK 2009/2010.
Inspection and Repairs to 56.1m High S1240 Boiler Steel Chimney.

In 2009 Rafferty Steeplejacks successfully tendered for an external and internal inspection of the 56.1m high S1240 boiler steel chimney at a UK fertiliser plant. The internal inspection revealed deteriorated steelwork and holes within the top section of the chimney. As the chimney could only be shutdown for a certain amount of time, any further inspection or maintenance work had to be undertaken externally.

The S1240 steel chimney was manufactured and installed in 1975 making the chimney circa 35 years old. As steel chimney design standards have been revised and improved since original construction, along with the present condition of the chimney following our initial inspection, it was agreed that the chimney should be re-designed and a structural feasibility study should be carried out to CICIND:1999 and the new Eurocodes EN 1991 which will soon replace the present British Standard BS4076;1989 for steel chimneys. The re-design calculations and feasibility study revealed that the design life of this chimney could be substantially extended by over-plating and strengthening works being carried out to various areas of the chimney shell along with replacing the helical strake wind stabilisers at the termination point of the chimney with a modern fluid stabilising damper system to reduce excessive oscillations.

Rafferty’s offered the client a full turnkey project solution to extend the design life of this chimney and such was their faith in Rafferty’s knowledge, experience and capabilities in steel chimney construction and maintenance, the contract was awarded on single tender.

As previously stated, as the client was unable to shut the chimney down for the entire duration of the project, all works had to be approached from an external view point. As the chimney shell is concealed with mineral wool insulation and aluminium cladding externally, the cladding and insulation would need to be removed to enable any repairs to the chimney shell to be carried out.

It was decided that the first area of consideration would be the deteriorated areas of steelwork and holes that were located in the top section of the chimney. To access the full circumference of the chimney, a modular frame scaffold deck was installed directly below the upper most flange at 42.1m above ground level. Following which a multi-lift scaffold arrangement was then erected for a further 8m providing safe working platforms to all elevations of the structure within this area. Further design calculations were carried out which prevented fully scaffolding the top section of the chimney to the termination point as the scaffolding would add additional wind loadings to the already weakened structure. Therefore, the remaining top 6m of the chimney would be accessed by erecting a full circumference modular frame scaffold deck at approximately 2.5m below the termination point and from this a full circumference moveable tirfor platform was utilised to gain access below. This form of access was only installed once the multi lift scaffold arrangement was dismantled. Please see the following photographs showing the scaffold arrangement and click to enlarge.

Utilising the multi lift scaffold arrangement and moveable platform, the aluminium cladding and insulation was removed throughout the full height of the top chimney section. On removal of the cladding numerous defects were located to the chimney shell steelwork. Directly above flange level the original manufactures of this chimney installed a cladding ring throughout the full circumference of the stack. Its purpose was to support the insulation above and prevent it from slipping. As the cladding ring protrudes from the chimney shell, it is considered as an external ‘cold spot’ as it will not be consistent with the operating temperatures of the chimney shell steelwork. These external ‘cold spots’ are where accelerated corrosion and deterioration will form on steel chimney structures should weather penetration occur. Numerous ultrasonic thickness readings were therefore carried out above and below the cladding ring which revealed that the chimney shell had deteriorated far beyond its original corrosion allowance. Further deterioration and holes had also occurred around other external ‘cold spots’ within the top section of the chimney such as the access ladder securing brackets and helical strake securing bosses. Please see the following photographs which show the deterioration identified within the top section of the chimney and click on images to enlarge.

Following the inspection, the areas of the chimney shell requiring maintenance works were plotted and submitted to the client. Extensive over-plating works were then carried out to the chimney shell steelwork with the top section of the stack. Using trained steeplejack coded welders, the cladding ring was removed and the chimney shell at this location was over-plated with 8mm thick mild steel plate for a depth of 1m throughout the full circumference. Extensive patch plating was also carried out around the access ladder securing brackets and helical strake securing bosses at required locations with 8mm thick mild steel plate. Quality procedures were also implemented throughout the duration of the repair work and our workmanship was independently inspected and quality checked by a qualified company who carried out a magnetic particle inspection of the new weld seams. The results of which achieved the complete satisfaction of the client.

The extent of deterioration evident within the top section of the chimney raised serious concern with both ourselves and the client. It was therefore decided that further inspection work should be carried out to the remainder of the chimney. The original manufacturers of the stack had installed cladding rings above each connecting flange. It was agreed that the aluminium cladding and insulation should be removed above each flange level to expose the cladding ring. To remove the cladding and insulation in a safe and controlled manner required access to the full circumference of the chimney. To avoid the use of costly crane hire or extensive scaffolding works, access was achieved by using the full circumference moveable tirfor platform which was originally used within the top section of the chimney. A thorough inspection and extensive thickness tests of the chimney shell could then be carried out in these areas. The chimney shell was also exposed and inspected around each access ladder securing bracket and sample platform securing bracket. Fortunately the defects to the chimney shell were only limited to the top section of the chimney and no further maintenance works were required to the remainder of the stack. Please see the following photographs showing the moveable access platform and inspection of the chimney shell.

The final element of this project was the installation of the new fluid filled stabilising damper system. The original helical strakes were first removed and support brackets were installed to the chimney shell steelwork ready to receive the damper system. Utilising a 220 ton mobile crane the damper system was installed at the termination point of the chimney. Please see the following photographs showing the new stabilising damper being installed and finally in position.

This project was successfully completed without any safety incidents and to the complete satisfaction of the client. Our ability to provide innovative maintenance and access solutions have succeeded in prolonging the design life of this structure without any disruption to the operating conditions of the chimney.

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