The roof of St. Helen’s church is still a work in progress. After the partial collapse last year it was hoped the repairs could have been completed by December 2020, but then the ‘system’ took hold.
St. Helen’s is Saxon, a church and a Grade 1 listed building. These three criteria conspire to make things subject to consideration by all manner of interested parties, some would say it elevates matters into the realm of the very awkward. HS2 is by comparison, chicken feed.
Church buildings and repairs are scrutinised by the diocese. They have strict rules and regulations and have to give their blessing to any proposal. They insist on the correct procedure to be adopted, the appointment of the architect, building materials and contractors to be used. It is a combination of English Heritage, local planning, building inspection and conservation rules all rolled in one, and then some, possibly even more.
Thus the roof at St Helen’s has been inspected by the authorised architect and proposals drawn up. An inspection by a bat investigator has been completed, and potential builders are being approached. Add Covid restrictions, restricted timber availability, contractors workload and stir well. Also roofs have a habit of being up there on top of things and require scaffolding to effect the repair, oh and initially allow sheets of tarpaulin to be slung over the hole whist all this is going on.
Now scaffolding does not come cheap to erect or leave there for any longer than is necessary. But wait, if the north chunk of the roof fell in what is the condition of the rest of the roof you might ask? And is it worth replacing to prevent Chicken Licken announcing that more of the sky has fallen in the future? Thus the roof project has moved on in scale – but is yet to hear the starters gun. The project will now see, eventually, the roofs over the nave, chancel and vestry being sorted. This is now a hefty project. It will take time for drawings to be drawn, building materials sought, contractors appointed and get the whole bang-shoot authorised, and the bats duly interviewed.
And then a whacking great bill to be paid. At the moment the estimate is c. £100,000 of our British pounds and about a year to cut the ribbon. There is no alternative, Burghwallis has a duty to repair this magnificent 1000 year old Saxon church.