The massive multi-million pound redevelopment of Sheffield Cathedral is set to be completed by May, church bosses have revealed.
The £4.3 million Gateway Project started a year ago and is progressing on time and on budget.
The dean, the Very Rev Peter Bradley, said: “We hope to open in April with everything finished by May. There will still be some internal fit-out when we are open.”
The aim is to be ready for the centenary of Sheffield Anglican diocese and a reopening ceremony on June 8.
Renovation means the grade I listed Cathedral, which dates from 1430, will be able to host more exhibitions, concerts and events.
During the work, congregations have had to use the side chapels, with bigger services, such as at Christmas, using the Cutlers’ Hall.
Mr Bradley added: “On the whole, given that we are working in a medieval building, we are in a good position. People can see how extensive the works are.”
Pillars in the nave were stabilised in concrete after it was found they had been built on piles of stones, just three feet deep – ‘like crazy paving’, said Mr Bradley.
He added: “The builders called an engineer who said you can’t do anything until it is fixed.”
The project, backed by a £1.3m Heritage Lottery Fund award, will transform much of the interior and part of the exterior.
New heating, flooring, seats and sound system are being installed in the nave and the stone floor levelled for easier wheelchair access.
The major overhaul extends to new hassocks – fabric kneelers on a shelf under the seats, used to kneel on or as cushions. There will be a new entrance and some Victorian pinnacles, which were at the side of the church, have been repositioned on the forecourt.
Mr Bradley said: “It was felt the square didn’t have much drama and you couldn’t really see the entrance. Now it should be easy to see where the entrance is.
“We are going to have a lot of heritage events to encourage people to come into the cathedral, especially those who haven’t been in before. We are going to have quite a few exhibitions and concerts with all sorts of music.
“The congregation is really looking forward to it. It is a beautiful, peaceful and almost unchanging building, but it has been really tough when it has been dusty and everything is upside down.”