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By Gary Smee 05/07 Updated: 05/07 13:00
EVESHAM Bell Tower has been closed indefinitely after huge chunks of it fell off onto the public footpath below.
Staff at the parish church noticed large shards of masonry from the 16th century tower on the pathway in Abbey Park and the area has now been cordoned off.
Surveyors are still looking at the damage but early indications show it will cost about £150,000 to make it safe.
A fund-raising group has already been set up by Evesham Parish Church and a public appeal for help set to be launched.
Reverend Andrew Spurr, vicar of Evesham, said it was disappointing they had to close it during the busy tourist season.
"It is a great pity that we have had to secure the base of the tower at a time of year that sees the most pedestrian traffic between Evesham churchyard and the Abbey Park," he added.
"While there is no convenient time for that thoroughfare to be closed, it is preferable to having people injured by falling masonry.
"The Bell Tower is the defining building of the town and I am in no doubt that Evesham folk will be able to help us raise funds, both to make the structure safe and to preserve what has been a substantial landmark for 500 years."
Evesham Bell Tower needed major work done to it twice in the last century, in 1901 and 1951, and so Rev Spurr said it was already overdue for major repair work.
It is thought the harsh winter of 2011 weakened a lot of the stonework.
A more detailed inspection is currently being undertaken by the surveyors, Ward and Dale Smith, and the full extent of the damage is not expected to be known until the end of the month.
Church Warden Bill Bird added: "This inspection will give us a precise list of works for which we need to raise funds."
For more information on how to help with the restoration call 01386 442213 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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