Restoration of the Valls bell tower to repair the exterior elements and the interior oxidation

The bell tower of Valls, the tallest in Catalonia and which turns 125 this year, needs rehabilitation. All the work carried out in the 80s and 2020s, there has been a loss of impermeability of the exterior elements and an interior oxidation, a pathology that affects the top knob. The works will cost approximately one million euros and will be financed with public contributions and also through a patronage campaign. Yesterday the brushstrokes of the project were given.

The architect Joan Gavaldà recalled that when the bell tower was built, small modifications were already made to the highest area. In 1980, a first intervention was requested to build a new structure to withstand the vents, and the cracks in the exterior elements were sealed. In the 1990s, some mortars were used "but some elements were not solved, the root of the problem was not attacked." The architect indicated that the part of the iron surveyed in the stone is where the degradation is most evident and important. Water has entered through the cracks and this has oxidized the metal.

Joan Gavaldà highlighted the scope of the work to be carried out, with both internal and external scaffolding, "it means working at a height of 45 meters". A new protection will be applied to all the metallic elements of the upper area of ​​the monument, also to inaccessible structures with cathodic protection, an electrochemical method for the prevention and control of corrosion. In the area of ​​the bell plane, from the 40-metre level, the metal elements hidden or embedded in the stone will be cleaned up, which will be replaced by stainless steel or protected with anti-corrosion methods. In addition, the restoration of the sills, pillars and jambs of the large and characteristic windows of the bell tower has also been planned, in one area, the bell plan, which will also be waterproofed with the installation of new pavement.

The metal structure will be cleaned up and protected and the stone in the high areas will be rehabilitated

Continuing up, from level 53, work will also be done in the area of ​​the upper trunk-pyramid of the bell tower. Specifically, here the original profiles will be replaced by stainless steel pieces, while the outer stone skin of this area will be grouted and a waterproof coating will be applied. In the upper turret, the railing will be dismantled in order to clean up and protect hidden metal elements, while in the metal body that crowns the bell tower, the lightning rod will be cleaned, protected and replaced.

citizen commission

Jordi Paris, from the Citizen Commission for the Restoration of Sant Joan, recalled that in 1977 work began on the restoration "because the bell tower was worse than it is now." The works were carried out in two phases, for a question of financing: from 1984 to 1986 and between 1992 and 1993. Work was carried out mainly on the windows, "it was a complicated site, with stability problems." The works cost 28 million pesetas.

Two years ago some emergency works were carried out, at a cost of 17,000 euros, as a result of reports made by the technicians of the Restoration Services of the Generalitat during a routine visit. From there, “between the Archbishopric and the Generalitat we asked for a more extensive report. It's what architects have been working on so far." The final project will be ready shortly.

Paris added that now the Pro-restoration Citizen Commission of San Juan will be reorganized and anyone who wants to can sign up. The fundraising campaign will also begin next year, when the project and the final cost are ready.

He advanced that the works, which will last approximately one year, will be done in 2023 in a single phase and he does not know when they will start, although he would like it to be April.

Juan Águila, parish priest of the parish of San Juan, praised the figure of the bell tower: «We are talking about a symbol and an identity in the city, the region and in Catalonia. It is the common heritage of all”. He is aware that it is not the best time for an important economic challenge "but we cannot – the bell tower – let it lose".

The mayor of Valls. Dolors, Farré, points out that the City Council will be at the side so that the project goes ahead and that it will seek financing from other administrations.

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