June 15, 2010 | Community News
The future of a Grade Two listed Durham city church is looking much brighter – and drier – after a five-figure grant from north east based mining, property and renewable energy company the Banks Group helped stop rainwater leaking into and damaging the fabric of the building.
The sandstone walls and interior decoration of St Cuthbert’s Catholic Church on Old Elvet were being badly damaged by rainwater leaking through the roof and into the church.
The problem was primarily being caused by failing joints and gutters in the church’s antique guttering system, the replacement of which was identified as a priority in tackling the building’s structural problems.
Now, thanks to a £15,000 grant from The Banks Community Fund, the leakage problems have been solved with the installation of a new, up-to-date guttering system.
The church’s interior has now been redecorated with the help of unsolicited donations from parishioners given in response to the leakage problems being solved.
The work was carried out over a three month period by local firm Hodgson & Allon, and because no further water damage is occurring, church leaders are now examining ways in which repairs to and conservation of the stonework can be addressed.
Built in 1827, St Cuthbert’s Church acts as the Catholic chaplaincy for Durham University. It is used by a large number of parishioners for church services and functions, and also regularly hosts other events, including lectures, academic meetings and classical concerts.
Fundraising secretary Susan Penswick says: “This sort of water damage is a very common problem for church buildings in our area, primarily because of the sandstone from which they are usually built, and even Durham Cathedral has been affected.
“The problem had become so bad at St Cuthbert’s that one and two foot-long strips of paint were peeling off the walls, and it was really affecting the atmosphere of the church.
“Installing the new guttering system has made an immediate and very visible impact, and our parishioners have been so impressed by the difference that they’ve made unsolicited donations to the church to help with the redecoration of the damaged interior.
“Stopping the leakage was the key factor in enabling us to start looking at the long-term conservation of the building, so as well as addressing our immediate problem, Banks’ support will have clear long-term benefits as well, and we are extremely grateful for their help.”
The Banks Group has given away more than £1.1m to good causes in and around all its areas of operation over the last five years, with almost £400,000 of this going to projects across County Durham.
Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, adds: “St Cuthbert’s plays an important and diverse role in the life of the city, and we’re very pleased to be playing a part in safeguarding the building’s long-term future.”
The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation. Projects, community groups, or organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact Clare Johnson on 0191 383 0055.