What works are being done?
Replacement of the roof slates with new, natural Welsh slates, will keep the church and sacristy weathertight. The Welsh slates are expected to last for around 100 years. This is the first time that full re-roofing has been undertaken since the church was built 175 years ago.
Internally, renewal of the nave and aisle ceilings should solve the problem of failing plaster that became evident in 2014. With the debris netting removed, there will again be a clear view of Pugin’s scissor-beam roof design.
Repair of external masonry, rainwater goods, and a few of the windows will help keep the building weathertight. Renovation of crumbling external stonework will restore some of the finer historic features, and metal crosses will be re-installed along the ridge of the roof as Pugin intended them.
In addition to these renovations and repairs, a new exhibition space will be established and furnished in the narthex, as one of several initiatives to help both local and wider communities appreciate the church and parish heritage.
How will the parish function during the works?
Builders will normally be working Monday to Friday, from June to December, but not on First Fridays when the Healing Service is held. On their working days, Masses will take place in the main hall of the Parish Centre, but there will be no Adoration.
Scaffolding will be erected outside for the re-roofing and repairs of church, sacristy and cloister passage, but pedestrian access to the side entrances of the Parish Centre will be maintained. There will be absolutely no scope for car-parking on site, apart from the clergy cars in front of the Parish Centre. The two on-street parking spaces outside the church will be suspended for about four weeks while the scaffolding is being erected.
Scaffolding will be erected inside the church for plaster ceiling repair. There will be no access to the church on working days. The west and south doors will have barriers and signs. Dust-sheets will protect the altar and reredos in the Lady Chapel, the niche with the statue of Madonna and child, the niches on either side of the sanctuary with statues of Joseph and Patrick, the baptismal font, the Sacred Heart shrine, and the organ. These dust sheets will stay in place at weekends. All the other statues, the Stations of the Cross on the walls, and the candle-stands will all be removed to safe storage.
The Sunday Masses and the First Friday healing service will all be held in the church, but the altar will be the only remaining focus for devotions. For the congregation, there will be no scope for lighting candles in the church. The only candles permitted are the usual Mass candles on the altar.
The shop will be open, but with a reduced range of stock. Some extra help will be needed at the beginning of each weekend to clean and prepare the church, and then late on Sunday to clear the church again.
What are the main stages in the works?
5 Jun – 23 Jun Erect scaffolding externally and internally
26 Jun – 11 Aug Re-roof nave and sanctuary
10 Jul – 1 Sep Plaster repairs to nave ceiling
10 Jul – 15 Sep Re-roof sacristy, side chapels and passage
21 Aug – 13 Oct Re-roof aisles
4 Sep – 29 Sep Paint nave ceiling
4 Sep – 19 Oct Plaster repairs to aisle ceilings
2 Oct – 26 Oct Paint aisle ceilings
16 Oct – 3 Nov Remove external scaffolding
30 Oct – 10 Nov Remove internal scaffolding
30 Oct – 1 Dec Drain work in courtyard
11 Dec COMPLETION