News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the support of the Archdiocese and parishioners, the end of 2019 saw the completion of a major scheme of structural and masonry repairs to the tower of St James’ Church in Bootle.
For years the striking 120ft tower had been plagued by structural defects to its bell chamber floor and bell frame structure, as well as substantial erosion to its external sandstone walling. In 2012 bell ringing had to be stopped due to safety concerns and things really came to ahead in 2017, when structural investigations determined that the bell chamber floor would eventually collapse if remedial works were not undertaken.
A large scale repair and restoration project was subsequently devised and, after a two-stage application to its Grants for Places of Worship programme, the National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded the parish an overall grant of circa £190,000.
Works began in March 2019 and involved the complete replacement of the existing reinforced concrete bell chamber floor, the refurbishment of the bell frame and bells, extensive repair works to external masonry and the renewal of the tower roof covering.
In addition to putting right the serious defects, the restoration works also gave the parish the opportunity to reach out into the local community to raise awareness of not only the project but also of St James’ Church itself as an important Grade II listed building and local landmark.
Neil Fewtrell, the Archdiocesan Surveyor responsible for overseeing the project, said, ‘The support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and parishioners has helped relieve the parish of an overwhelming burden. No longer does it have to face the daunting prospect of a complex and unaffordable repair scheme. The church has served as a place of worship and community asset for the past 135 years and it’s great to know that we are a step closer to preserving it for many more generations to come.’
Father James McGarry SDB, assistant Parish Priest at St James’ added: ‘On Sunday mornings, parishioners are now called to Mass by ringing the peal of bells. What a joy it is to hear the bells once again’.