The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

Every five years our church must undergo a mandatory architect’s inspection. As you will all know by now, the inspection in November 2008 uncovered several items which needed attention, some of which required very urgent repair. The initial estimate for the total cost of all the repair work was 50,000. We therefore initiated the first of these repair works earlier this year.

You will have noticed quite a lot of building activity and disruption round the exterior of our church over the summer so what has actually been done so far?

Our first, and most critical item of repair, was to address the tower roof. Following several years of water leaking through the roof, some of the structural timbers and wooden decking were beginning to rot resulting in the need to replace the roof. The scaffolding required for this work was erected in June of this year and by doing so, allowed our architect and a structural engineer to fully inspect the tower. This detailed inspection however uncovered several significantly more worrying items.

Our 1960’s tower has actually been constructed round the original 19th Century brick tower by securing concrete panels to the old tower, with bronze ties. The detailed inspection from the scaffolding identified serious problems where the cement filling between the concrete panels was crumbling severely and some of the bronze ties holding the panels to the tower were loose or missing. The concrete panels were therefore at risk of falling from the tower. Most worrying was the fact that the greatest area of deterioration was to the top most panels.

It was also noted during this detailed inspection that the metal cage behind the louvers on the top of the tower was rusting badly and, as the wooden louvers are actually fixed to the cage, they too were at risk of coming away. The purpose of the cage is to prevent birds from accessing the top of the tower so it’s now known as our “bird cage”, to keep birds out though, not in.

From our initial work of replacing the tower roof we therefore found ourselves facing a more substantial task. The repair of the tower roof was actually quite straight forward and was undertaken by replacing the rotting support timbers and decking and then replacing the old felt style roof with a new asphalt roof. (Asphalt is the same type of material used in road surfaces). The concrete cladding panels however were proving more difficult to address. Our architect, structural engineer and building contractor reviewed several options before the most suitable method was agreed. The loose filling between the panels was removed completely and replaced with a mastic filler then painted over to better match the tower colour. The loose panels round the top of the tower were re-secured to the tower by drilling through the panels into the old tower and securing with special stainless steel bolts and fixed with epoxy for additional security. To replace the rusted bird cage, the wooden louvers round the top of the tower had to be removed one by one and the rusted metal cage replaced by a new stainless steel mesh. The louvers were then re-secured to the new cage. Another small item was also addressed whilst work was going on in the tower roof. The frame which holds our old bell was also beginning to rust so this has been sanded down and repainted.

As we already had builders on site with scaffolding it was found to be more economical to address a few other external items of work identified in the architect’s inspection at the same time. The guttering down either side of the church was completely misaligned and leaking badly; the putty round several of the windows was crumbling and coming away and a few of the concrete panels were beginning to show the same problems of cracking joints as those on the tower. As the tower work was completed the building contractors moved the scaffolding to the sides of our church. The guttering was removed to allow the facia behind them to be repainted. The guttering was then refitted with new seals and realigned to give a better water run-off. The loose putty was replaced and all the external window frames repainted. The final item of work was to carry out the repairs to the concrete panel joints in the same way as the tower.

At long last we saw the final removal of scaffolding from the church in early September but we have been left with a substantially greater cost than originally thought. The original estimate for the tower work was 39,000 however with the additional works undertaken, this has risen to 55,000.

Unfortunately, it does not stop there. We very successfully addressed the main area of concern, the tower, but we still have several fairly large items of mandatory repair to be undertaken over the next year or so. The item which is most pressing is the flat roofs to the sacristy and choir vestry across the rear of the church. These are of felt construction and at the end of their useful life. We are already seeing small leaks when the weather is bad therefore a replacement of both roofs must be undertaken before things deteriorate further resulting in significantly more expensive repairs.

We also have several less pressing items which need our attention but can be delayed a little longer. We need to repair the cracks appearing across the main church floor, the brickwork on the outside of the Lady Chapel needs to be re-pointed and some safety work needs to be done to the organ gallery to raise the height of the gallery and fill the gaps above and below the glass frontage.   

In March we initiated a number of fund raising activities with letter drops to major businesses and a major drive to look at increasing planned giving with letter drops to all our electoral role. Unfortunately this has not resulted in any significant increases in regular income. The Gift Day and other additional fund raising activities have however been quite successful so far by collecting in excess of 14,000 over the past year. For this, your PCC and Churchwardens are extremely grateful but as you can see from the bills we have paid so far and what we expect for the future, we cannot afford to be complacent. Although we do not have estimates for the repair works yet to be done, we know this will run into several tens of thousands of pounds. With this on top of the shortfall in the bills paid so far, our reserves are no longer in a position to cover all the necessary work and unfortunately we must keep a focus on repair work funding for the foreseeable future. Our real solution to the issue is the requested increase of regular weekly and monthly giving so that we can meet these expensive items as they arise. If you have not yet increased your weekly giving, can I once again ask that you give this your full consideration and increase where possible. Let us pray that together we can face these challenges and with the help of God, fulfil the tasks set before us.

If you want any further information on the repair works, planned giving or fundraising please contact me.

Dick Handy - Churchwarden  


Christmas Edition 2010

The Scaffolding has gone, but what has happened?