Thieves strike at south Essex church taking £7,000 scaffolding and dump rubbish

Thieves have struck at one of the seven round tower churches in Essex stealing about £7,000 of scaffolding.

They even brought their own ladders to remove the upper tiers of the scaffolding around the round tower of St Nicholas of Myra, South Ockendon.

Demus Lee, of the parochial church council, said that the builders have carried out pressing repairs to the tower which was at serious risk of collapse last autumn. However, more work needs to be carried out and this latest brazen theft is another setback for the church.

It is thought that the scaffolding, including guard rails, boards, pulleys and poles, had been taken over two weeks from May 24. Fortunately, the scaffolding was insured by the contractors, so liability does not fall on the church but this will inevitably cause further delays to the repair programme, said Mr Lee.

It was even more frustrating because all the lower tier ladders had been removed to prevent unauthorised access to the scaffolding. However, the thieves, who had returned over several days, managed to remove parts of the higher level sections during daylight hours.

Mr Lee said that the church now faced the cost of disposing of a quantity of building material, which had been dumped at the base of the tower.

Members of the Society’s committee had planned a visit to the church in late July to meet the architect, members of the team ministry and the parochial church council.

In October last year, the Society made its largest single grant in its 50-year history to St Nicholas when the tower was at serious risk of collapse. The £7,500 grant helped to defray part of the cost of the original scaffolding.

St Nicholas holds a parish fete on Saturday, June 29 between 10.30am and 2pm.

In addition, funds can be donated directly to the church bank account towards the repair programme – Name: St Nicholas Church. Sort Code 60-09-11 Account 72403780

The photograph by Nick Wiggin shows the tower shrouded in scaffolding last December but the top tiers have since been removed.