PE’s revamped Campanile will reopen to public in July

The site manager at the Campanile, Siya Maninjwa, shows the new ‘ghost bells’
File picture: Eugene Coetzee

Despite several challenges and delays due to wet weather, revamp construction work to the historic Campanile building in Central has officially been completed.

While the bells have been chiming since last month, music expert Prof Albert Troskie confirmed and certified on May 11 that they were in fact in tune.

The revamp, which has been a Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) project, saw the 23 bells – which collectively weigh 17 tons – removed and restored last year, with the public afforded the opportunity to view them.

Ibhayi Construction site manager Mark Hamilton said they were basically done and were completing the snagging process, which would be finished by Wednesday.

“During snagging we get the architects and client to come and walk through,” Hamilton said. “They see if it’s up to their standard and if there is anything they would like to add before the handing over of the building.

The tower, which has been undergoing a major facelift since May last year, will be open to the public by the end of July.

“We are now doing paint touch-ups, checking what is missing and making everything nice and neat again by cleaning out all the dust and paint.

“There have been a lot of challenges. This is not a normal construction building, and we had to work with the heritage of the building.

“Everything that was broken we had to replace to look as original as possible.”

The Campanile – meaning bell tower in Italian – and the Port Elizabeth City Hall clock tower will be connected using a wireless internet modem to ensure their bells do not ring simultaneously.

MBDA spokesman Luvuyo Bangazi said a series of events would be held leading up to the official opening.

“The contractor is attending to final snags and minor alterations,” he said.

“The Campanile will be open to the public in July. However activities are planned as the build-up to the main opening.”

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