St. Nicholas has been awarded a grant from English Heritage Lottery Fund. The money for the first stage development has been spent on a digital survey and professional fees for the architect, quantity surveyor and structural engineer. The project is to repair the stained glass windows and masonry at the west end of the church, where St. Barnabas’ Chapel is located. Each pane of glass is to be removed and identified prior to replacing the crumbling masonry and supporting stonework. The glass is then to be returned to their original locations.

Crumbling masonryCrumbling masonryThe second stage development grant awarded us £163,000. This figure had been reduced due to the constrictions of the economic climate and lower than expected bids. Following a tendering process in which five firms were invited to bid, the contract was offered to Lambert Walker; a firm of architectural restorers specialising in churches.  A site meeting in May 2013 focussed on discussions concerning mandatory obligations of both our church’s PCC and Lambert Walker.  All conditions were approved, and the contract signed bertween parties. The English Heritage architect, Tim Wilkins, is the liaison officer for this project and is kept informed of all detail regarding the restoration of our Grade II Listed Building.

The Diocesan Registry, in London, analyses applications for renovation and restoration of listed places of worship and a ‘petition for faculty’ was granted; the initial application having been processed and recommended unconditionally by the Liverpool faculty officer at St. James’ House. The proposals were accepted by the Diocesan Advisory Committee.

Strict criteria has to be met in order to achieve a successful application from English Heritage. They include a maintenance plan, public access arrangements, an access audit, financial solvency and proof of fund-raising. The services of an accredited architect are key and obligatory.  With the services and guidance of our architect Robin Wolley, the quantity surveyor Neville Beech and structural engineer Fred Tandy, our application was accepted. One of the main reasons that it was a successful application is that the priority works were predominately high level; the beautiful stained glass windows being in severe danger because of the crumbling supporting stonework.

The west end of the church is the most exposed to the marine atmosphere and the stonework was not of the best quality when the church was constructed in 1874.  The five windows at the west gable are fine examples of stained glass by Kempe, Wilkinson and Powell.  As well as the windows, the old, rusty guards are to be replaced by ones made from powder coated stainless steel.

The works are expected to take around 24 weeks and commenced in late June 2013 when scaffolding was erected internally and externally.   A legacy left to us may also enable the windows at the west end of the north and south isles to be renovated.

It seems a long time age since the application had to be submitted by 30th September 2009. However this journey has much more mileage as we look forward to a further grant application to continue the programme of restoring our magnificent church to its former glory.

Stephen Green, Church Warden