WORKS to restore the ailing bell tower at Bendigo's St Paul's Cathedral have been completed.
The works started in January this year after the community raised more than $200,000 to fix the 151-year-old structure.
Very Reverend Elizabeth Dyke said it was exciting to see the tradespeople clean up the site and wash down the brickwork earlier this week.
"Now we're just waiting for the crane to take down the scaffolding," she said. "COVID slowed things down significantly.
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"More recently, a couple of the key workers have not been well, which has slowed things down even further."
The works were originally scheduled to be completed at the end of March this year.
"It's all done now," Dean Elizabeth said. "It's amazing and it's all paid for. The exterior has been smartened up and it's starting to look like brand new."
The cathedral went though a period of disuse several years ago when the building was deemed not safe for patrons to use. The congregation instead had to worship in an adjacent hall.
But after years of fundraising from the Bendigo community, the building was restored and the congregation returned to the cathedral in June 2016.
Dean Elizabeth said the congregation and some generous donors made significant contributions to ensure the more recent works to bell tower were possible.
"When we're able to be in the cathedral for worship, we will organise a thanksgiving and opportunity to say a public thank you to those who contributed to the completion of the work," she said.
"Our key contractors have been very good and very generous."
Dean Elizabeth said there was always more work to be done at the cathedral given it was a historic building.
She said the next focus would be restoring the stain glass windows and doing repair works.
But Dean Elizabeth said the first priority would be having the congregation back in the cathedral for services after a year of coronavirus restrictions.
"Everything depends on when the cranes come and we can get the scaffolding down," Dean Elizabeth said. "And of course there is COVID-19.
"We're just looking forward to being back in face-to-face worship, and to be able to worship God and celebrate together."
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