In February 2021 this year, the Chair of Workington Stella Maris Project Group, John Garner has had to step down from the role of Chair. John remains a dedicated supporter of the project and the Group and the Parish owe him a tremendous debt for bringing the project this far. His dedication, tenacity and commitment to this project have been second to none and the group will miss him greatly. He has kindly agreed to allow us to “pick his brains” and tap into his vast knowledge whenever we need to. As a group we wish him well but rather than “goodbye” we wish him au revoir – we may very well need to take him up on this offer!
Impact of Covid 19 on project – the pandemic changed the criteria for the National Heritage Lottery Fund yet again which means the Workington Stella Maris Group has to revisit our draft application and adjust the project plan accordingly. It has also had a huge impact on the specialist firms that are needed for the restoration of the side altars. The work for which we now have permission to start.
Several factors have emerged whilst trying to move the project forward.
- Contractors are very busy as we are in the middle of a building boom.
- Contractors are understaffed as workers left or were furloughed or made redundant at the start of the lockdown and have not come back.
- There are also shortages of certain materials.
However, our conservation architect, Elaine Blackett-Ord, has been in touch with three masonry contractors who expressed their interest in the work earlier this year. One has work for the rest of the year and two of them have reconfirmed their availability. We need hour tenderers altogether, in case one drops out, so she has contacted a further two contractors and is awaiting their confirmation and availability.
She hopes that tenders will go out during August and the tender period is three weeks and they will be encouraged to visit the site during those three weeks. As well as quotes they will be asked for their earliest start dates and although it is expected that work will only take 3 to 4 months, it is unlikely that work will commence before September/October. This is particularly disappointing as 14th September 2021 is a significant date as it is the 100th Anniversary of the consecration of the church.
We have received a generous grant of £10,000.00 from the National Churches Trust which allows for an assessment and report on stone decay mechanisms and sourcing stone for replacement to be drawn up by a specialist geologist. His site visits however have been delayed due to reluctance to travel during current restrictions.
She has approached 3 glazing companies for the removal and repairs to the stained glass, which will also be cleaned.
We continue to try and raise funds locally so please take a look at the Events Page and have recently been shortlisted for another grant from the National Churches Trust – we will know the results of this in August sometime.
Heating – boiler upgraded √
Heating – radiators installed √
Heating – asbestos removed √
Environment – paths and driveway done √
Environment – bee hives installed and bees transferred √
So what’s next…….
We hope to begin work to replace the extensively damaged stonework and repair the beautiful stained glass windows at the Lady Altar and Sacred Heart Altar in Spring 2021.If this work doesn’t go ahead, there is a grave danger that the stained glass could be lost forever.The cost will be in the region of £109,000. This includes approximately £20,000 for glass repair and external protection of it. We have permission from the Historic Churches Committee to undertake this important work and we anticipate having the required permission from the Lancaster Diocesan Trustees in November.We have also applied to the National Churches Trust for a grant of up to £20,000 towards the cost. We will learn by November if we have been successful.We are grateful for donations that we have received previously towards the Workington Stella Maris Project but we are once again asking for your help towards this crucial phase of restoration at OLSM.