Bristol may be unique as a city for many reasons. One of these is the city’s tallest building: how many others can boast their tallest edifice dates back to the 12th century? Well, complete with its spire (built 1442), St Mary Redcliffe church – the one the tourists mistake for Bristol Cathedral and the selfsame one described by Queen Elizabeth I as “the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England” – still towers over every other building in the city at 89 metres (or 292 ft if you still work in old money. Ed.).

Every now and again, some work needs to be done on the building’s fabric and I was extremely fortunate on Wednesday to spot some in progress way above my head.

image of spire of St Mary Redcliffe complete with steeplejacks

Bristol’s tallest building complete with human ants


If you squint up the spire, you can see two steeplejacks at work, with the lower one actually carrying a ladder.

The steeplejacks are from the family firm of Dawson Steeplejacks of Clutton in North Somerset. To coincide with the works the Bristol Post carried a feature on the 175 years-old firm and its work. The Dawson family have been steeplejacks for seven generations: now that’s is something to which to aspire!