Reordering Project 

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Part of the hard-working team from Midland Conservation Limited, pictured outside St Mary's Church, Melton, who will soon be working on Bladon Bridge at Blenheim Palace. They are, left to right: Chad Edwards, Scott Street, Phill Wright and Colin Lear.

we'll get there on time! 

church logo newjpgsmallFor the past eight months or so St Mary's Church in Melton Mowbray has gone through some massive changes.

When we held our last service in the church on New Year's Day I don't think anyone could have imaged what was to lie ahead with the Re-ordering Project.

It's been a time of uncertainty and doubt for a lot of the congregation and people in the town. 

However, there's been no doubt in anyone's mind who is working in the building that the work will fall into place and that it will be completed by the deadline of November 24 this year.

When the workmen moved in in January I was privileged to be allowed in the church each week to take a pictorial record of what is happening and to report on the progress.

One of the first people I spoke to was Colin Lear, who has been overseeing the work of the stonemasons in St Mary's and has been second-in
-command on the project, and his opinion has not changed from day one.

"We'll get there, we always do. Things will all come together at the last minute, " he said at the time.

I've been told that a number of people are concerned that the work won't be finished and that it is not on schedule, despite there being two lots of guided tours around the building so people can see the progress being made for themselves.

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The way things were: The floor in the North Aisle at the beginning of the year.

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The way things were: This is what the North Transept floor looked like in February this year.


church logo newjpgsmallI realise it is hard to tell from pictures just what has been done but I have seen at first hand the amount of hard work, effort and problem-solving that has gone into the building... from the shock of seeing a digger in the church for the first time to the beautiful new floors going in.

It's when you get to see the work so closely you realise just what an unpleasant task the workmen have had. To their credit they have gone about their work with a smile on their face and have been fantastic with the inquistive visitors who have popped their heads through the door to see what has been going on.

I remember early on in the project when I walked past an elderly lady and her friend were looking in.

"Don't worry, we're taking good care of the building. It'll look amazing when we've finished. I hope you'll be coming to the first service when it re-opens," said one cheery soul to her.

The lady gave a satisfied smile, nodded and was on her way. Her mind had been put at ease.

You clearly need a good sense of humour for this sort of job. It is often dirty and back-breaking work... I well remember seeing workers on their hands and knees laying the screed on the floor in church, and then cutting slabs and being covered in dust and debris, and thinking rather them than me.

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Phill Wright and Colin Lear at work on the floor in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray.

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Above: Scott Street at work on the floor and below, left, Chad Edwards.

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But it's not just a sense of humour. There's a real feel of professionalism in the church. Everyone is doing their very best to make our church look even more amazing than it did before. And that goes for everyone, from the site foreman, the stonemasons, carpenters, electricians, those cleaning the walls and ceilings and anyone else who is brought in to do their bit. It all looks amazing.

The work has not been easy, as Colin Lear explained to me when we spoke recently.

"When we first started to take the floor up no-one could have envisaged that there would be great voids underneath it, and lead coffins and holes, and we also didn't realise how thick some of the ledger stones would be. So that was a challenge.

"It has been a problem putting them back in because of the sheer scale of them, their weight and size, and obviously things have changed to make good the ledgers. We've had to move the ledgers around because of new electrical boxes and conduit pipes which have been put in and they wouldn't fit back in. And, because we've incorporated blue limestone in-between the columns, ledgers that were there orginally have had to be moved or replaced."

Colin admitted that the work on St Mary's was one of the hardest jobs he has worked on.

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It's a tough job but someone had to put the screed down in St Mary's Church earlier in the year.

church logo newjpgsmall"The main time consuming problem has been the size of the ledgers and the build-up of screed we've had to use to get the floor back up to formation. Tons and tons of screed have gone in there.

"Every job we do throws up a challenge similar to this. When I first stepped in the church I thought it would be simple. I spent two or three months to start with doing a survey of the floor, numbering every stone and taking sizes. I could have told you where everything went back perfectly to the millimetre but then, as we started to progress, everything changed because I don't think anyone envisaged the problems we've had. The floor boxes have gone in and all of a sudden that ledger can't go back there.

"We've also had to form a deeper channel up the side of the South and North Naves to accommodate the thicker ledgers. If we could have put them back as we'd taken them out it would have been a lot easier and a lot quicker.

"The concept of the job changed when we were told we had to make good and cut down all the existing flagstones because then you're shrinking everything, making everything smaller. We were told the stones that were ok had to go back in but they couldn't go in without being trimmed and to have the edges on them removed which is a specialist job," said Colin, who has been a stonemason for the past 26 years. 

When the ledger stones were orginally laid, if one of the stones was thicker than another they just dug out the floor more to make it fit and they were just sitting on a bed of soil.

"I enjoy my job because you do something different every day. It's a new challenge every day," added Colin, who is 43 this year and who served a three year stonemasonry apprenticeship at Bath College in Somerset after leaving school.

In four or five weeks' time Colin, who lives in Lichfield, will have another challenge on his hands. He has just been told that he will be site foreman on a two-phase £500,000 restoration contract on Chambers ‘New Bridge’ also known as ‘Bladon Bridge’ designed by Sir William Chambers in 1772, over the River Glyme on the Blenheim Palace Estate.

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‘Bladon Bridge’ over the River Glyme on the Blenheim Palace Estate, where Colin will be working next.


church logo newjpgsmallOnce the floor in St Mary's Church, Melton, is complete he will be joined at Blenheim by his brother Phill Wright and Scott Street, who are also stonemasons and who have been working on the church since Midland Conservation Limited moved in in January, and Chad Edwards.

"I will be sorry not to see St Mary's finished. It's annoying but it's what always seems to happen... you start something then we get moved.  I will return to have a look round when it's finished," Colin added.

And what of his next job challenge?

"It's what we do, it's a big responsibility to get it right. We work for stately homes, the National Trust, churches, so we have to get things right," said Colin, who worked as site foreman for three years on a £3.6m project on the Grand Hotel in Birmingham.

"We took the top third of the building down and the roof and replaced it with new stone and made good the other two thirds. It looks really impressive.

"We're lucky with St Mary's Church because we've got the run of the place but normally we have to work when buildings are still open. If you are working in a church you stop when there are funerals, services or quiet times and have your breaks to fit in. I remember working on the White Tower in the Tower of London. You had to work for an hour then stop for an hour because a Beefeater would be showing people round on a tour, and then you'd work another hour then stop for another hour. It was like that all day!"

Colin has also worked on, amongst other things, Lichfield Cathedral,  Kedlestone Hall, Derby and the British Museum.

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Colin Lear lays part of the floor in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray.


church logo newjpgsmallColin and his brother Phill were among the first people to join Midland Conservation Limited when it was started nearly 10 years ago by Jason Graham and Andy Cornwell.

Since then the firm has gone from strength to strength and they are waiting anxiously to hear if they will win in this year's grand final of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' awards to be announced at the Intercontinental Hotel in London on November 2nd.

They reached the final by winning two categories in the West Midlands section of the awards in May this year. They won the conservation category for work on Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, which is the burial site of William Shakespeare, and the commercial category for the £3.6m restoration project on The Grand Hotel, Shops & Offices in Birmingham.

"It would be the icing on the cake if we won at these awards as Midland Conservation celebrates its ten year anniversary on October 3rd this year," said managing director Jason Graham.

And his thoughts on the work so far in St Mary's Church?

"St Mary's has not been without its problems but it is coming along nicely and it will look fantastic when we have finished."

Will it be finished on time?

church logo newjpgsmall"Yes, it will have to be. No doubt about it."

And does Colin share that optimism?

"It's going to be tight but we will get there. On a job like this it will all come together all of a sudden, but there's no doubt in my mind we will do it."

You sense that it's not just about hitting a deadline, there's a sense of pride in doing a fantastic job to the best of everyone's ability.

I believed Colin when he told me confidently back in January that they would get the job finished on time, and I believe him now.

To all the doubting Thomas' I can't wait to say "they told you so" when the deadline day arrives!


Phil Balding, 06/09/2017

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Ian lays the last slab
THE amazing Re-ordering Project taking place in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, took another step towards completion on Thursday (October 26th) when Charitable Incorporated Organisation Trustee Ian Neale laid the last part of the floor. More ...
Phil Balding
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A touch of glass!
WITH just under FIVE weeks to go before the November 24th deadline to finish the fantastic Re-ordering Project, St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, is starting to look even more amazing than ever. More ...
Phil Balding
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Project's £21,000 boost
Funds for the Re-ordering Project have been given a boost with a £21,000 grant from the Allchurches Trust. More ...
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The heat is on!
IT'S A funny old world, make no mistake! I well remember, long before the arrival of Midland Conservation Limited, the usual moans in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, on a Sunday morning, writes Phil Balding. More ...
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What a finish!
WITH just under SIX weeks to go the doubters WILL be proved wrong and work on our beautiful Grade I Listed building will be finished by the November 24th deadline in time for this year's spectacular Christmas Tree Festival. More ...
Phil Balding
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The light fantastic!
WOW, wow, wow! Absolutely amazing! Words can't adequately express just what a fantastic job the team of men from Midland Conservation Limited are doing as the Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, draws closer to its November deadline. More ...
Phil Balding
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Shedding some light!
LET THERE be light! The eight new Flemish candelabra and some of the 25 pendant lights have been now been fitted in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, as part of the amazing Re-ordering Project. More ...
Phil Balding
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The countdown has begun
THERE'S now just over SEVEN weeks to go before the amazing Re-ordering Project is set to finish in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Phil Balding
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Hard work is paying off 
It has taken months of hard, gruelling work in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, but the fantastic effort by the skilled team of men from Midland Conservation Limited is paying off as they are making amazing progress on the Re-ordering Project. More ...
Phil Balding
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Making amazing progress
THIS is the amazing progress being made as the floor is being laid as part of the Re-ordering Project which is taking place in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Phil Balding
Work on church is going well
THESE are the latest pictures of the amazing Re-ordering Project which is taking place in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Phil Balding
Guided tours prove a big success
More than 50 people got a glimpse of the work that has taken place so far on the Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, on Saturday (September 2nd). More ...
Chancel ceiling gets a good clean
It's a tough job but somebody has got to do it! For the past couple of weeks workmen have gone about their business almost unnoticed high above on scaffolding in the Chancel of St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Catriona views project work
The Revd Catriona Cumming took the time on Tuesday (September 5th) to take a final look around St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, as she prepares to move to her new job in York. More ...
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Student Emily takes a tour 
Student Emily Danaher visited St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, on Thursday (August 31st) to get some information and pictures for her dissertation on the Leicestershire area during the Reformation Period (1517 - 1648). More ...
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Our patron is impressed
Fantastic, wonderful, incredible... those are the three words which summed up the £1.9m Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, when our appeal patron, Jennifer, Lady Gretton visited our beautiful building on Wednesday (August 30th). More ...
Phil Balding
Let there be light!
St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, should be nice and bright once the eight new Flemish candelabra and 25 pendant lights have been fitted during the £1.9m Re-ordering Project. More ...
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The high life for Alex! 
ONE woman who is now getting a taste of the high life while the £1.9m Re-ordering Project is going ahead in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, is conservator Alex Carrington. More ...
Phil Balding
Work is gathering pace
The floor being laid at a rapid rate as workmen press on with the amazing £1.9m Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Phil Balding
Work is looking good
Workmen have now started laying parts of the floor in the main body of St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, as they press on with the impressive £1.9m Re-ordering Project. More ...
Phil Balding
Work is taking shape nicely
WHERE has the time flown by? It seems like only yesterday that work was beginning on the £1.9m Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, but we are now seven months into it and things are really beginning to take shape. More ...
Phil Balding
A hive of activity
HERE are some more pictures, taken on Monday (July 17th), of the hard work that is taking place in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Phil Balding
Help us hit the target!
These are the latest pictures, taken on Wednesday (July 12th), of the work that is taking place in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, and the hard-working team of men from Midland Conservation Limited who are carrying it out. More ...
Phil Balding
A splendid effort so far
IT'S been a long, hard slog but the end is in sight with the fantastic news that we have now raised £1,700,985.71p towards our target of £1.9m for the Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Phil Balding
Work makes a good impression
Almost all of the floor has been laid in the North Transept and some of it in the South Transept as work on the £1.9m Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, is progressing well. More ...
Progress so far
Jonathan Wallace, from Henry Groves and Son Ltd, explains why they were delighted to receive the contract to rebuild and enlarge the Sir Malcolm Sargent Memorial Organ at St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray, and reports on progress so far. More ...
Fascinating glimpse of new window
Seventy people enjoyed a fascinating talk by stained glass artist Derek Hunt on Saturday night (June 3rd) in the Samworth Centre about the new window he has made for St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, as part of the ongoing £1.9m Re-ordering Project. More ...
Phil Balding
£1.9m work is taking shape
Things are starting to take shape as work on the £1.9m Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, moves forward. More ...
Phil Balding
£1.9m project is going very well
The sub-floor has been laid and things are moving on quickly with work on the exciting £1.9m Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Work is progressing well
Work on the exciting £1.9m Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, is going very well and is now moving on apace. More ...
Guided tours prove a big success
Ninety people got the chance to get a glimpse inside St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, on Saturday night (May 13th) and to see the work that has been done so far on the £1.9m Re-ordering Project. More ...
Phil Balding
Your donations count! 
Three leaflets are now available in the Samworth Centre detailing how you can help donate towards the Re-ordering Project which has started in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Phil Balding
See £1.9m work in progress
These are the latest pictures taken on Friday (May 5th) of the amazing £1.9m Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, showing the underfloor heating pipes being laid. More ...
Get a glimpse of the Re-ordering work
These are the latest pictures of the amazing £1.9m Re-ordering Project which is taking place in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. More ...
Our generous benefactor
John Plumb was an Honorary Life Member of the Melton Mowbray and District Historical Society and a notable local historian who died in 2014 aged 74. More ...
Phil Balding
A colourful, vibrant design
Derek Hunt is clearly a man who loves his job. His enthusiasm and love of stained glass is obvious when you meet him. For more details read on... More ...
Phil Balding
Derek is top of the glass!
Work on the new stained glass window for St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, is nearing completion. Website Editor Phil Balding visited stained glass artist Derek Hunt to find out more. More ...
Phil Balding
Under the floor the truth revealed
Liz Craig visited St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, whilst the archaeologists were there and made some amazing discoveries under the floor in the North and South Transepts. To find out more, read on... More ...
Phil Balding
Exciting Re-ordering Project moves on
This was the scene in St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray yesterday (Tuesday, February 21st) as the exciting and ambitious £1.9m Re-ordering Project moves on. More ...
The tower and the glory!
Think of Melton Mowbray and it's a good bet that you'll come up with pork pies, Stilton Cheese and St Mary's Church, writes Phil Balding. More ...
Phil Balding
Help us hit the target!
£1.6m and rising... that's the amazing figure we've already raised towards our exciting Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray. But now we need YOUR help to get us to our £1.9m target. More ...
Phil Balding
New window is coming along nicely
The stained glass window, which will be installed on the north side of the Nave in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, towards the end of the Re-ordering Project work, is coming along nicely. More ...
Phil Balding
Work is cracking on
Wow, what happened to the floor! This was the scene inside St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, on Friday afternoon (February 10th), writes Phil Balding. More ...
Phil Balding
Funny you should say that!
They say that a happy worker is a productive worker so it was heartening to hearwhat one worker said on Wednesday morning (February 8th) as I walked past St Mary's Church in Melton Mowbray, writes Phil Balding. More ...
Phil Balding
A clear view
Those of you who have viewed Phil Balding's pictures taken inside St Mary's Church, Melton, recently will have noticed the clergy vestry looks much bigger without the wooden screens which were only put there in the middle of the 20th Century. More ...
Phil Balding
Your help is needed now!
It's big, it's bold, it's ambitious and it's happening right now! I'm talking, of course, about the exciting Re-ordering Project in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, writes Phil Balding. More ...
Phil Balding
Amazing peek inside St Mary's
AMAZING... that's the only word to describe the scenes which greeted me on Friday (January 27th) when I was able to go inside St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, to take a look at what has been happening inside the building. More ...
Phil Balding
A sight for sore eyes!
Several people had to do a double take when they saw some of the workmen, as the one pictured above, going in and out of St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, during the last two weeks. To find outmore, read on... More ...
Phil Balding
In for the long haul –a time for change
Preparations to carry out the planned improvements to St Mary’s Parish Church are finally under way. The building has been emptied in readiness for work to begin. It is an exciting but daunting prospect, writes John Craig. More ...
Phil Balding
Work is on schedule
Workmen are still busy in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, ridding the building of asbestos near the North Transept and dismantling the organ ready for its refurbishment. More ...
Phil Balding
Getting rid of asbestos
Workmen in special overalls and masks have been working in a sealed tent in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, on Wednesday (January 4th) as the task of ridding the place of asbestos takes place. More ...
Phil Balding
Writing a new chapter
Website editor Phil Balding gives his views after watching work start on St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, on Tuesday (January 3rd) More ...
Phil Balding
Contractor appointed
A contractor has been appointed to undertake the Re-ordering Project at St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, in the new year. For more details, read on... More ...
Phil Balding