In order to protect the interior of our Grade II* listed church building to safeguard it for future generations we need to complete the renewal of the roof.
The areas of the of the roof shown in light grey on the plan have already been renewed in 2016, with the aid of a grant of £85k from the Heritage Lottery Fund Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund. The areas shown in dark grey, consisting of the roofs of the continuous roof of the nave, chancel and apse, the north transept and the north and south aisles, still require complete renewal of the tiling. The striped area is the roof or the Lady Chapel, which only requires repairs as it was renewed together with the adjacent vestry roofs in 1995.
In September 2017 St Alban's PCC was awarded a development grant of up to £28,000 under the Heritage Lottery Fund (Grants for Places of Worship) scheme to enable us to prepare a detailed application for a grant of up to £250,000 towards the estimated cost of £560,853 of renewing the church roof, other high-level repairs and other work to improve access to the building and make its interior and heritage more accessible to the public under the project title "Revealing St Albans Hidden Heritage". You can read our Press Release about the award here: St Alban's PCC, Birmingham, wins National Lottery Support.
The largest part of the proposed work financially will be completing the renewal of the church roof.
The grant has enabled us to prepare detailed plans for the roof renewal and high level repairs to widows and stonework and to provide improved arrangements for future maintenance, including provision of a paved area on the north side of the church from which large cherry pickers can be used safely to reach the north side of the roof in the same way that the south side can be reached from Conybere Street.
It also allowed us to crystallize our ideas for providing improved step-free access and a more inviting entrance for all potential visitors.
Our initial preference was to make the existing main entry to the church through the west porch (or narthex) more welcoming to strangers and accessible. We planned to replace or supplement the existing studded oak doors with glass doors to allow a view from the street into the porch and from the porch into the nave of the church. To provide step-free access, we planned to create a new doorway into the north end of the porch with a sloping access path as an alternative to the steps to the west doors. However, we were not able to obtain regulatory consent for either of these changes due to the required alteration to the historic fabric of our grade II* listed Victorian Gothic building and the change that would have been caused to the external appearance of its western façade.
We have therefore developed an alternative scheme to provide a welcoming lobby as an entrance to the church for wheelchair users and ambulant visitors alike by modifying the modern 'cloister' annex. This was added to the north side of the church when the church hall was added in 1984 primarily as an entrance to the vestries and the new hall, but it also already provides a step-free access route to the church. However, it is not fully compliant for wheelchair use and is unsuitable for general use during events in the church because it provides an unseen access to the vestries and hall area and so cannot be left unlocked for security reasons.
To make this entrance suitable for general use we plan to modify this modern entrance area to create a larger lobby with separately controllable access through a historic doorway into the north transept of the church and through a new door to the vestries and hall area. There will be new lighting for the path from the street to this entrance and a new security fence to prevent access to the rear of the hall when the gates are open.
The Heritage Lottery Fund development grant has also enabled us to define out heritage communication strategy and draw up an ongoing activity plan. We hope that his will encourage more and a wider range of people, locally, throughout Birmingham and more widely, to engage in new ways with our historic church building, the heritage that it contains and its context in the secular as well as religious history of our parish.