Deja Vu. Restoration has reared its exciting head again. If you look at the display table at the back of church, all will be apparent.
Yes, we have been offered a considerable grant from English Heritage, yes there is going to be a lot of dust and inconvenience, yes there will be scaffolding erected both inside and outside the North side of the church and yes there is a significant challenge to find the shortfall of funds to finance the project. Stand with your back to the altar and look at the transformation to the West Gable enhanced by the lighting and I would hope that you could visualize how the next phase would underline the beauty of our Grade 2 listed building. We are so fortunate to be the custodians of such magnificent stained glass windows. Many churches are falling into disrepair due to lack of attendance and therefore funding. St. Nicholas’ has always been a welcoming church but our exposed position has made us vulnerable to the coastal elements. Subsequently on the 9th June 2009, senior church members met with our quinquennial architect, Robin Wolley, quantity surveyor, Neville Beech and structural engineer, Fred Tandy and decided on a plan of action. On Valentines Day in 2011, the PCC lovingly endorsed its vows that restoration was essential to the ongoing operation of the church as a place of worship. Fast forward two years and we move to the next phase.
An application to English Heritage was made and again we were successful. The selection criteria of the accredited architect had changed since we applied for Phase 1 funding. Then it just seemed natural to ask Robin to supervise the project. He was our quinquennial architect and was familiar with our building. The rules had changed now. Our QS was to advertise for architects to tender their applications for managing the restoration. Two declined and Robin applied and was accepted. This was driven by a directive from English Heritage and we were pleased that Robin was formally selected to take our church through this next phase. He had also freely given his time and experience to assist our application and installation of the replacement lighting scheme. There were many meetings, phone calls and emails during this time but it was essential that the works were done with Robin’s approval and we are extremely grateful for his support and input.
The first stage known as the development of Phase two is nearly complete. The professional team is in place and the digital survey and drawings have been done. A budget of estimated costs identifying the repairs and financial outlays associated with each section has been prepared by the QS. An architects report has been submitted. It has been identified that the lower roof is in a very poor condition. It appears that many slates have been used before and may need to be replaced. We can only hope that when the roof is uncovered, the underlying frame is intact. The roofs poor condition is exacerbated by the perforated upper gutter which was highlighted when our gutter clear exercise was carried out last year. I was informed by our Hylift access operator in August that the upper gutter had too many holes to be viably repaired. The gutter is to be replaced as part of the Phase 2 plan. Unfortunately, last year, we have just experienced the wettest year on record.
Statements of need and significance have been produced, photographs have been taken, the architects report, drawings and plans completed and the PCC resolution endorsing the works were all submitted to the DAC at their meeting on 31st January. The application was agreed and we were recommended to petition for faculty. Five contractors are to apply for the works and submit their costings by 2nd of March. The QS and architect will inform me who is the successful contractor. Copies of theirs and the architects current insurance certificates, the DAC certificate, the price from the successful contractor, the completed petition form and copies of all forms sent to the DAC are then sent to The Liverpool Diocesan Registry in London. The Chancellor and the Archdeacon of Liverpool will hopefully agree to the faculty and will duly issue a certificate authorizing the work to proceed.
These documents have to be received by English Heritage by 29th March to claim the second half of the first stage grant offer. This is twelve months after the offer date.
The second stage process then starts. This is where the project is commenced endorsed by our insurers to whom we will be expected to pay a supplementary fee.
There are public notices displayed both inside and outside the church which are a mandatory requirement. They give details about the proposed works and a procedure to follow if any objections wish to be lodged. A copy of one of these is also to be sent to The Registry with the other paperwork if there are no objections.
I will update you all in a future issue of the magazine of our progress.
The works are expected to commence in June and be completed by December.
Stephen Green, Churchwarden