The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Amateur steeplejacks in Birmingham

Amateur steeplejacks in Birmingham

A cabinet card showing ‘volunteer steeplejacks’ working on the spire of St Andrew’s Church at Bordesley in Birmingham.

According to the caption printed recto in the lower margin, the photograph commemorates ‘A Happy Moment – Lowering the weather-cock and top-stone – July 13th, 1901.’

On Friday 19 July 1901 the following report appeared in the Portsmouth Evening News under the headings ‘Church Restorers’ and ‘Amateurs on a Spire’: ‘A curious scene is to be witnessed nightly at the church of St Andrew’s, Bordesley, Birmingham. When the present incumbent entered upon his charge a few weeks ago the place was in a ruinous condition, and the spire had been officially condemned as dangerous, as the material is of crumbling sandstone. To repair it was impossible, and there being no funds for the purpose, amateurs came forward and volunteered to take down the spire. A party ascends after completing the ordinary day’s labours and remains until nearly midnight. So far, notwithstanding the dangerous character of the work, the spire being somewhat lofty, no casualty has taken place. On Thursday the party working on the platforms in various positions was photographed.’

The caption on the photograph and the report in the newspaper don’t quite agree on the date (13 July 1901 was a Saturday, not a Thursday).

Photographed by Thomas Lewis of Birmingham and Bromsgrove.


Code: 126671
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