Work has started in the church – progress report for May

This is the end of our first month of work.  Borras Construction were appointed in January, but it took several weeks to get through the mobilisation period sorting out things like site arrangements on our inevitably restricted site, and requirements for the stone we would use.  The quarries that produced the stone for our building in Victorian days are no longer operating and we want to be sure of the best colour match we can after weathering. 

Before the work even started, we had a massive volunteer team clearing the church – a great community venture and we were lucky with the good weather in March for this.

For the contractors, protection of the fabric was the first task.
Good use was made of the South porch for storing the many floor ledgers which will be re-laid later.

 

We are now firmly at the demolition stage. Sadly, much of the floor has to be recycled but, in addition to the pews which were all sold, we have recovered:

  • grilles which are now decorating walls and gardens around the Parish
  • wood from the dais which is now being crafted into saleable articles by members of the congregation (watch this space to see some ideas of what will be available)
  • some of the Victorian tiles which will be re-laid in the new floor around the floor memorials
  • some of the parquet for which the demolition contractors have an outlet.

The separation of waste has been an impressive task – wood, cast iron, of which there is a lot in the Victorian underfloor heating pipes, heavy gauge steel, light steel, aluminium and concrete all going in different directions.

When we had the warm air heater installed in 2016, we expected it would only be needed for three years, but we have had five years use out of it. It is now being dismantled. The stone from its enclosure has been piled up for re-use on site. When the new accessible entrance is made in the north wall additional stone will be needed to make good around the aperture, and there is a hole that needs to be filled where the duct from the heating came through.

The architects are hoping that most will be good enough to be reused as it will be a good match. The new stone for the north door surround is more difficult. The architects aim, and faculty requirement, is to have a best match with the stone surround of the neighbouring windows, but after weathering. When new it will not look like a good match at all. But in 100 year’s time, or maybe just 50, it will be very obvious why the choice was made.

The demolition of the floor has just begun in earnest with the concrete slab now being broken up. The waste is then taken in a very small dumper truck to the very big waste container on the Cornerstone driveway. Special care will be taken not to dig too close to the pillars but elsewhere the floor needs to be 340 mm deep to accommodate a layer of limecrete in which the underfloor heating pipes will run and then above that a shallow screed and finally the Ancaster limestone floor itself. The top surface will be at the same level as before. The archaeologist is standing by should anything interesting be found.

There is always something incongruous about machinery in a building, no more so than in the church!

Throughout the work we expect to maintain access to most of the churchyard and to give the  bell ringers access to the tower on Sundays and on Saturday afternoon and Monday evening for training and practice.  Services are being held in our adjacent hall, The Cornerstone at the same times as our normal pattern and we have again set up live -streaming for people who are still concerned about meeting in confined spaces.  

Fund-raising continues, with a target of £10,000 a month.  We have people running, gardening, selling stamps, books and other items for the project, and since the start of the year funds have risen by over £60,000.  

Anne King –  6th June 2022

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