A kind-hearted businessman has offered to donate dozens of sandstone blocks to ensure Sandiway’s historic Round Tower gets rebuilt.
John Newton, who owns Beeston Reclamation Yard, was stunned when the Grade II-listed tower was badly damaged after a car smashed into it on November 14.
Now Mr Newton, of Bulkeley, wants to give Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) some of the thousands of sandstone blocks he has acquired through his business to help them restore the monument.
“Like everyone I was shocked when this happened and I was interested to read in the Chronicle that the tower used to be a gateway to Vale Royal Abbey,” he said.
“I have loads of sandstone blocks so I just thought I might be able to pass some of them on,” he added.
CWaC spokesperson Ian Callister said: “We thank Mr Newton for his kind offer which has been passed on to the relevant departments dealing with the project.”
Meanwhile, CWaC has defended its decision to pull down the remains of the tower following the crash after some members of the community expressed doubts about why the council did it.
But the council, which has already begun work on the listed building consent application to rebuild the structure, this week released a report from a senior surveyor which revealed the collision had caused ‘major structural damage’, with a large portion of the elevation destroyed on impact.
Now they will consult English Heritage on the application to be sent for final determination to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.
Cllr John Grimshaw, who represents Weaver and Cuddington, said: “The council intends to use specialist heritage contractors to carry out the re-instatement.
“Our application, which should be submitted for consideration by mid-February, will have to include a full description of the original building, our plans for reconstruction and the traditional methods and materials to be used – including the reuse of as much original fabric as possible.
“We know the collision caused damage to some of the sandstone and one of the first jobs our conservation officers will have is to ascertain which sections will have to be replaced when the building is re-instated.
“One of the materials incorporated is lime mortar, which can’t be laid during the winter because of its vulnerability to frost and extreme cold,” he explained.
“The report demonstrates quite clearly that the council had no alternative but to take down the remainder of the tower in the interests of public safety and threat to life of those at the scene which has to be absolutely paramount.
“It also states that the building had moved significantly with evidence that it had shifted horizontally in several places with major distress to bed joints which had moved considerably in large areas all over the remaining stonework.”
Fellow councillor Charles Fifield added: “It was clear the remaining structure was unstable and in danger of imminent collapse with the structure being top heavy and leaning over where the car remained wedged. Further stonework also dropped from roof level whilst carrying out the initial survey.”
“When the construction company arrived on the scene to pull the car away from the building it caused further collapse and contractors had advised removing the stonework down to a stable structure.”
The site was even deemed too unsafe for workers to go near, so heavy machinery had to be used to remove large sections of the heavy stonework.
Miraculously, the driver of the red Corsa, a woman in her 50s, emerged relatively unscathed from the smash, receiving only minor injuries.