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Saint Marys Church Westport: Planned Renovations

The Situation Today

In July 2015, part of the ceiling in the side aisle collapsed falling onto the seating below.Thank God no one was injured.

While examining the cause of the ceiling collapse it became apparent, after exhaustive investigations, that defects in the building were much more extensive, serious, varied and widespread. The reality is, our ‘200 year’ old Church is ‘physically a lot sicker than it looks’ with serious problems extending from the cross on top of the roof right through to the foundations in the ground.

Substantial remedial works are required. The time spent investigating the problems and appropriate solutions has been worthwhile. This process has ensured that poorly planned and abortive works are avoided. The time and effort has undoubtedly saved us money. In the first instance, we have identified the most urgent works to protect your safety and secondly to protect the structure and fabric of our historic building.

Accordingly, the works are now divided into four phases in line with what we think we can afford at this time. The more detailed elements of each phase are outlined under the headings below.

We deeply appreciate your patience during this process. 


The current status is -

  • Phase 1 – Foundation Piling Works - Commenced in June 2017 and now substantially complete.

  • Phase 2 – Critical Safety Works- The tender process has recently been carried out. To achieve best value, post tender negotiations were carried out with the most competitive tenderer. The contractor has now been appointed. These works are planned to commence at the beginning of September.

  • Phase 3 – Further Critical Works to Protect the Fabric of the Building - Postponed until sufficient funds become available.

  • Phase 4 – Future Uses - Consideration of the best uses of the Church to serve the community in the future.


Summary of Phase 1 – Piling Works

Foundations - Construct new piled foundations under the curved Apse walls and walls on Northwest elevation to stabilise wall movement due to subsidence which has resulted in cracking and water penetration in the walls with extensive damage to the historic marble panels behind the altar. 


Summary of Phase 2 – Main Contract Works

External Scaffolding - Erect hoarding and scaffolding to entire external church perimeter to enable high level roof works to be carried out.

Flat Roofs - Remove the defective flat roof coverings including asphalt and water saturated cement screeds. Remove defective external rendering (plaster) and lead flashings. Construct new flat roof coverings including insulation and all perimeter flashings and re-plaster walls.


Pitched Roofs - Repair and renew areas of the high level pitched roofs including damaged slated areas, flashings and ridge tiles


Rainwater Gutters - Remove and replace all of the rainwater gutters and downpipes which are damaged, defective and breaking down.


Concrete Eaves - Remove damaged areas of the high level perimeter concrete eaves over external circulation areas at ground floor level and repair damaged areas.


Storm Glazing - Remove and replace damaged storm glazing to the large 1813 stain glass windows in the Transepts.

Bell Tower and Boiler House - Temporary support and remove corroded structural steel in the Bell Tower. Replace with new steel and clean and paint entire tower. Temporary support and remove damaged structural steel beam in the boiler house. Repair and fire protect steel beam. 


Crosses and Statue – Remove crosses on the high roofs, repair fixings and reset in position. Provide additional fixings as required to stabilise the statue outside the front door. 


Lightning Protection – Repair and renew defective lightning protection.


Internal Scaffolding – Extend existing hoarding and protections as necessary to include both side altars, confessionals, wainscotting, stain glass windows and the like. Erect scaffolding in side aisles and side altars to enable high level works to structural steel and ceilings to be carried out.


Steel Beams under concrete flat roofs – Insert temporary prop support under concrete flat roof as required. Clean down seriously corroded steel beams, repair as necessary including inserting new structural steel beams. 


Ceilings to Aisles and Side Altars – Remove existing defective ceilings including part of cornicing to facilitate insertion of new structural steel beams. Replace ceilings and cornicing. Paint and decorate ceilings.


Temporary Screens to Apse area - Close off this area for safety with 2.5m temporary hoardings and fire curtains pending future repair works to secure the historic marble panels and flooring.


Summary of Phase 3 – Future Necessary Repair Works


Drainage - Dig up and remove extensively damaged and collapsed drains. Lay new foul and surface water drains including re-routing drainage runs where passing through adjoining properties.


External Plaster - Remove damaged rendering (plaster) of Apse and side altar wall. Re-plaster walls.


Concrete Eaves - Remove remaining areas of the high level perimeter concrete eaves overhanging flat roofs which are breaking down and repair damaged areas.


Marble Walls behind Altar – Repair and secure the historic marble panels. 


Foundations – Monitor and investigate the remaining foundations of the 1932 building as deemed necessary.


Stained Glass Windows – Repair and restoration of eight historic stain glass windows.


Existing Storm Glazing to Windows – Provide ventilation to existing storm glazing to prevent overheating and damage to stained glass.


Roof Maintenance – Install walkway safety access in roof spaces of pitched roofs includes access hatch. Install fall protection to flat roofs. Pending completion of these works, all high level maintenance works will have to be carried out by specialist steeplejack contractors.


Roof Strengthening – Insert structural beams and support to pitched roof where it is sagging when safety systems, walkways and access are put in place.


Roof Insulation - Install insulation in roof spaces when safety systems, walkways and access are put in place.

Stations of the Cross - Repair and restoration of the 1961 Stations of the Cross.


Drylining to Walls - Investigate areas of dry lining to 1932 building. Carry out remedial work and insulate as required.

External Wall Cracking – Repair cracks as necessary.


Paint and Decorate Interior - Paint and decorate all internal areas of the church (excluding flat ceilings included in Phase 2).

Internal Acoustics – Upgrade acoustic finishes and public address system.


Summary of Phase 4 – Future Use of the Church

Planning and implementation for the best uses of the Church to serve the community in the future.

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