National scheme helped prepare and protect Sheffield Cathedral for WW1 commemorations

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Sheffield Cathedral was awarded just over £545,000 - £65,077 in March 2015 and £480,000 in July 2016 – to install new chapel lighting and carry out roof repairs respectively.


£40m funding scheme
The First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, launched by the Government in 2014, invited applications from Catholic and Church of England cathedrals to address urgent repair works. The fund prioritised making buildings weatherproof, safe and open to the public as well as ensuring they would be in a safe condition to host acts of remembrance for the centenary of the First World War armistice in 2018.

With funding now complete, the report shows a significant reduction of problems requiring immediate repair as a result of the investment but warned that recipients all had outstanding repairs in areas not covered by the scheme.

The largest number of projects (approximately a third) were for roof repairs. Many of the repairs funded also related to external masonry, with other projects covered including guttering, heating, sound system, electrical and window refurbishment.


Chapel lighting
The lighting and wiring in two chapels, the All Saints Chapel and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit (crypt chapel) had become unreliable, making them difficult to use for services and occasionally dangerous for visitors to enter. Components could no longer be obtained for the existing systems, which were in urgent need of attention: many fittings had failed through overheating or through faulty wiring.

It is quite distressing at times that elderly mourners feel anxious about entering the chapel because it is so poorly lit.
— The Dean 

Chapels are once again safe and open
Now the lighting requires routine maintenance only. The All Saints Chapel is now a fitting memorial to those interred there from the York and Lancaster Regiment. The work was carried out by a local electrical contractor and the spaces can once again be used for interment services. The Archer Project also uses the spaces for their weekly prayer meetings. 


Extensive corrosion problem
Ahead of being awarded £480,000 for roof repairs the Cathedral had identified an urgent need for a comprehensive roof renewal following investigations of rainwater leaks in the nave. This revealed an extensive problem with corrosion on the underside of the lead roofs in the nave and side aisles. The level of moisture was reached saturation and beginning to cause a visible white layer of oxidization to appear on the beams inside the cathedral.

These works to our roof have resolved a major threat to the historic fabric of the cathedral, so securing the building which forms by far the most important medieval site in the city of Sheffield.
— Vice-Dean Christopher Burke

Repairs address risk of future leaks
The leaks in the nave through holes due to lead corrosion have been stopped and the risk of similar leaks occurring elsewhere has been addressed. The work safeguarded the significant investment by a major Heritage Lottery Fund-supported project to refurbish the interior which was carried out soon before the roof problem was discovered. The provision of new insulation is also expected to result in a notable reduction in the cathedral’s energy consumption. The work was carried out by a Peterborough-based contractor who employed staff from Yorkshire. 


Government fund found successful
The report concluded that the fund had been successful in achieving its aims and met a funding need that could not be met elsewhere, adding that areas of cathedrals covered by grant-aided projects had been very largely changed from needing urgent repair to needing routine maintenance only. 

You can read the full report here.