A trip to photograph the Roll of Honour at St Paul’s Church, Shipley for my Shipley in World War I website turned into something of an adventure when I was invited to go up the tower.
‘First though, you must sign a disclaimer,’ I was told.
Before anyone yells ’elf and safety gorn mad, trust me the church has every reason to ensure that people agree they won’t make a claim if anything goes wrong – it’s a hairy climb.
I thought the narrowest spiral staircase I’ve ever seen was pretty tricky. Good to take a breather in the bell-ringing chamber before climbing again to where the huge bells themselves hang.
Looking around I couldn’t see where the stairs continued until my guide started up a vertical, metal ladder. Mmm. Ah well, come this far.
A bit tricky finding hand holds as you squeeze through the narrow opening at the top where you are confronted by a second, vertical ladder.
This time you inch your way out into the sunlight where, as you regain your breath (and nerve), a warning is given not to lean too heavily on the stone work. There’s a narrow ledge between the roof of the tower and the stone walls; still wondering if this was such a great idea, I edged myself towards the first gap.
The views are breathtaking. I’ve noticed before how St Paul’s tower is visible from right around the district and now, looking back, the vista opens up. Saltaire shines out; Victoria Mill also speaks of Shipley’s rich textile past; Hope Hill and Wrose rise ahead; across Shipley you can pick out Lister Mill chimney; you can see along the valley for miles; and then there’s a view up to Northcliffe woods.
One of the biggest surprises is just how much woodland there is so close to Shipley. It really does deserve a better town centre. The only blot on the landscape is that ghastly 1960s clock in Shipley Market.
The climb down is just as tricky but after that experience, it’s a small price to pay for views like these