St. Alban the Martyr

New Roofs and Drainange

26 Sep 2016 • General news

On 22nd September the scaffolding had been struck, the portacabin removed and the contractors had cleared and handed back the site after compeleting this season's roof work.

New roofs on St Patrick's chapel and the amubulatory below the old chancel roof

This, the first phase of the complete renewal of the roof of St Alban's Church, included replacement of the low-level roofs at the East end of the church – St Patrick's Chapel, the Ambulatory and the Organ Loft – together with the high-level roof of the South Transept.

Plan of the roofs and gullies renewed

Protecting the Organ

Unfortunately, before the start of this roof work in July, exceptionally intense rain on June 16 th washed debris from the high-level roof of the chancel and north transept into a gully around the organ loft roof (light grey in the plan above), where it blocked the drain. The gully then flooded until it overflowed into the organ-loft roof and dripped through the back of the organ, damaging the choir soundboard and pipes, into the pit beneath, where it damaged the 16-foot pedal trombone and bourdon chests and pipes.

The gully round the organ loft roof before alteration

Because of previous flooding of this inaccesible gully, the specifications for the roof work already included replacing this drain with a spillway chute through the parapet wall around the gully. Invisible form the public areas around the church, this modification corrects a weakness in the design of the drainage. If in the future the hopper or drainpipe should block, the water would now spill safely onto a lower roof instead of flooding the gully.

The new spillway to prevent future flooding of the gully

Furture Roof Work

To secure the future of the building we need to renew the rest of the high-level roofs – the Nave, Chancel and Apse, and North Transept Roofs, as well as the North and South Aisle Roofs and the Lady Chapel Roof. As an indication of the urgency of this task, the condition of the roof has led to the building recently being added to the Historic England "at risk" register. 

The survey and preparatory work has been completed by our architect. The estimated cost of renewing of the High-Level, North and South Aisle and Lady Chapel Roofs together with other high-level repairs is £525k. Much of this cost is for the high-level roofs, which must be replaced first as until this is done tiles slipping from the steeply pitched Nave Roof will continue to damage the Aisle Roofs. The high-level work cannot economically be split into stages due to the cost of erecting scaffolding, so we hope do it all as a single package.

To achieve this, we shall need a major grant as well as using most or all of our existing reserves from past legacies, and also additional fund raising. This autumn we will formally start the (two-stage) application process to the Heritage Lottery Fund that we hope will lead to the award of a major grant in 2017. If we are successful, we expect the work will take place during 2018.

Other External Work This Year

We have appointed contractors who will shortly start work to lower the ground level outside the East end of the church and improve the drainage there. This work is needed urgently because the ground level is higher than the floor of the church and penetrating water is now causing increasing damage to the stonework in the ambulatory and at the east end of St Patrick's Chapel. There will also be a little work inside the church to remove a row of tiles against the outer wall of the amubulatory to allow moisture to evapourate before it can damage the stonework above. This work should be completed by Christmas, and will be funded from John Taylor's bequest (part of which was used with other funds to renew the lighting system in 2012).