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Time ticking for council in race to restore Kingsand clock tower

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

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COUNCIL chiefs say they are "optimistic" Kingsand's iconic clock tower can be saved – but face a race against time because high spring tides are set to hit the Cornwall coast once again next month.

The clock tower and Institute building were badly damaged by huge waves on February 4 and 14 as powerful storms swept across the South West.

A large hole was punched in the east wall of the building, leaving the base exposed. Windows were smashed as water poured in and there were fears it might collapse.

However, contractors have been on site for the past two weeks making hasty repairs – but they face a race against time ahead of the spring equinox in late March.

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David Mutch, Rame parish councillor, said: "We are becoming more optimistic as the repairs continue.

"The building is recovering from all the damage; everyone is very optimistic that it's recoverable. The work the contractors are doing is tremendous and they have had much better progress than they anticipated. Who is to say what will happen, but based on current predictions of the weather I think it will be fine."

The village trustees had to react speedily, not only to help stabilise the building but also to demonstrate to insurers that, in the event of it collapsing, all steps possible were taken to prevent it.

Anne Carne, secretary of the board of trustees in the village, said the builders needed to get the outside of the building secure and safe in time for more bad weather.

Mrs Carne said: "It's not 100 per cent stable, but we are working towards it. We are prepared, but nothing is certain.

"Next, the builders will reinstate the balconies. Because of its position on the seafront people gravitate towards it – it's just stunning.

"My husband's family are from the village from generations and it's in his DNA – we love living here."

Contractors, Celtic Construction, of Widegates, have worked between the tides, sometimes in atrocious conditions.

They have applied Gunite to the basement. The concrete is a mixture of cement, sand and a quick-setting agent that is applied under pressure to seal and protect the damaged masonry – a process which continues for several days.

A cherry picker was used to remove the dangerously hanging railings, pillars and slates.

The Institute is made from red felsite, which is an intrusive volcanic rock which can be found at Watergate quarry, Sandways in Kingsand and the Eddystone Reef.

Fresh supplies are unobtainable and the builders are trying to recover all of the debris from the beaches.

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