May 8, 2013 | Bowesfield News
An historic Teesside community church that was targeted seven times by lead thieves has officially reopened after the completion of an extensive renovation programme to repair the damage caused by water getting into the building.
The roof at the Grade I listed St Cuthbert’s Church at Redmarshall near Stockton has now been replaced with terne-coated stainless steel, but the interior of the building had been severely damaged by the water that had entered through the holes left behind by the thefts.
A wide range of repairs were needed to the interior of the church, including renovation by specialist craftsmen of its 17th century pews which had been badly water-stained, and because of the repeated thefts, the church’s insurance policy only covered a small proportion of the almost £50,000 cost.
The church congregation held a range of fundraising events to help pay the bill, and contributions were also provided by a number of local and diocesan bodies, including a £5,000 grant from The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, which is administered in partnership with the County Durham Community Foundation.
Some of the cost was met by the sale of remaining lead on the roof, which the church management committee decided to remove to discourage any further unwanted visitors.
Established in 1257, St Cuthbert’s serves the parishes of Redmarshall and Carlton, as well as the neighbouring community, and is supported by an eight-strong volunteer management committee.
The building had to be closed for a number of weeks while the repair programme, which was carried out by Chester-le-Street firm Wensley Roofing, was undertaken.
Interior walls had to be replastered and redecorated, all the soft furnishings needed to be cleaned, and repairs were also required to the church’s electrical circuits, organ, boiler, pipework, lectern and lightning conductor.
Eric Smalley, church warden to the Parochial Church Council, says: “Each time we were targeted, we covered the holes in the roof as quickly as we could, but water always finds a way of getting into a building if it has the chance, and the damage that it was causing was becoming ever more widespread and concerning, especially to some of our oldest fixtures and fittings.
“The swift response from both our parishioners and many outside organisations towards meeting the substantial cost of repairs has been fantastic, and we’re very grateful for Banks’ generous contribution to enabling us to get this crucial work carried out.
“When we reopened the building, our congregation was astonished by the amount of work that had been done, and by the difference that it has made to the interior of the building, which we hope will now remain undisturbed long into the future.”
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, adds: “The commitment of the local community to raising the money needed to carry out these urgent repairs is extremely impressive, and we’re very pleased to have been able to play our part in repairing and protecting this important building.”
The Banks Community Fund is administered in partnership with the County Durham Community Foundation. Projects, community groups, or organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.