Chester, 1963: The custodians of the cathedral faced a dilemma. The bells needed maintenance work but it was feared that putting them back might have a detrimental effect on the buildings structural/architectural integrity. An alternative plan was hatched by architect George Pace, who specialised in ecclesiastic structures.
It took a while but by 1968 Pace had been commissioned to design a solution by Dean G W O Addleshaw, backed by his crack team of clerics. Work on the Addleshaw Tower began.
I’m sure Pace was the best man to sort the bells out and perhaps Addleshaw’s support of the scheme meant the Dean absolutely deserved to have the new building named after him. I am definitely not suggesting for a second that anything fishy occurred and, quite frankly, I’m shocked that you might even think such a thing! Shame on you.
In June 1973 the foundation stone was laid on what was once an old burial ground, in the south east corner of the cathedral’s grounds. Building work continued in ernest and by October of the following year a new set of twelve bells, recast from all but two of the originals, were installed.
Chester heard the first proper ringing of the new bells in February 1975, for a posh wedding. Something to do with the Duke of Westminster.
The Addleshaw Tower was George Pace’s last major work and while it caused a bit of a stir initially, largely because of its modernist sensibility, the ‘Chester Rocket’ also received much praise and a Grade II listing, for its respect to its historic setting.
I first saw it from the roof of the cathedral while on the tower tour. It’s stunning and I was lucky enough to be able to admire it from almost all angles.