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Hidden repairs secure picturesque church tower

Client: St Mary the Virgin Church
Location: Ramsgill, Harrogate, N. Yorkshire
Approved Installer: Facades
Reference No: CS212

The historic village church of St Mary the Virgin, built in 1842 with 750mm thick rubble-filled stone walls, was suffering from vertical cracking on the south and west facing elevations of the clock tower. Following inspection this was determined to be the result of water ingress at the string course level.

These faults had caused compaction of the rubble infill leading to bulging of the outer leaf stonework of up to 25mm on the masonry panels beneath the clock and causing cracking in the corner buttress. The south elevation exhibited the worst of the defect, possibly accentuated by thermal expansion and contraction due to its orientation.

Due to the age and picturesque nature of the church in its scenic rural setting, it was essential that the structural repairs, to stabilise the tower and restore structural integrity, were sympathetic and retained the building’s aesthetics. Due to its experience and expertise in repairing historic buildings, Helifix’s proven systems, with their concealed installation, were chosen as being the most effective and economical means of providing a long term reliable solution.

The Helifix Solution

Using a combination of fully grouted stainless steel CemTies and HeliBars, a repair programme was devised to consolidate the masonry, stabilise the tower and restore structural integrity.

  • To secure and reconnect the cracked buttress to the main tower structure, 20 CemTies, 8mm x 1000mm were installed at 450mm staggered centres. Once clearance holes had been drilled, the CemTies were inserted simultaneously with HeliBond cementitious grout to leave fully grouted ties.  
  • To secure the areas of bulging masonry, clearance holes were drilled through the 300mm near leaf, the 150mm of rubble infill and 150mm into the far leaf and 200 CemTies, 8mm x 600mm, were installed.


  • To stitch vertical cracks, Im lengths of HeliBar were bonded into mortar beds across the cracks.


Once the string course had been re-flashed, to prevent further water ingress, and repointing was carried out, the concealed sympathetic repairs left the tower fully stabilised and visibly unaltered.