Heritage Lottery Funded roof repairs 2017
What we did
Throughout 2017 Hull Minster undertook urgent repairs to the roof and clerestory windows in the nave. Following years of water ingress, through decaying stonework and lead which was perishing and cracked, a large central section of the nave roof was earmarked for replacement. In 2016, Historic England had listed Hull Minster as a building at risk and added its listing to the Heritage at Risk Register. The vital conservation work was carried out by Houlton’s, a local Hull construction company, with stonemasons from York assisting with the specialist heritage work.
The roof was stripped back to timber, which was intact, before a new section of insulation and waterproofing was added. This was designed by the Minster’s approved architect, Andrew Boyce of Ferrey and Mennim, who oversaw the work. New timber and finely milled, coded lead was then secured to the outer skin, making the central section watertight.
Meanwhile, on the inside of the nave, high level stonework repairs were taking place to the clerestory windows. A huge scaffolding platform was erected. This, in itself, was a magnificent feature of engineering and was much praised by visitors. The City of Culture 2017 team took a bold step in illuminating the scaffold for various activities which took place in the Minster during the summer. It was a stunning and unusual backdrop quoted by one as “ecclesiastical meets industrial”. It even featured on the front of an international scaffolding magazine.
At the end of the project, our solar panels were replaced over the lead enabling us to generate and export electricity from the Minster. As part of the public realm works, Hull City Council paid for new exterior lighting to the Minster and this was installed at the end of the roof project. The Minster can now be lit in many colours, reflecting liturgical seasons, special events, and memorial days.
We found two time capsules in the roof which dated from 1972. Folded inside biscuit tins, we found local and national newspapers, church service sheets and some drawings. There was also a beautiful little wooden cross made of wood timbers which had been removed during that renovation. It was very interesting to see what was going on in Britain at that time and the news headlines were very amusing.
At Heritage Open Days 2017 we were able to share all this with the public and made a hands on display where people could sit down and talk about their memories of the the church and about hull at that time. We invited visitors to put things in a new time capsule we were creating to commemorate the 2017 restoration.
We chose service sheet from the 2017 Minster Making, some money, a local newspaper, a City of Culture 2017 programme, a new church cross, our growth prayer and some pictures by the children’s group. The steel capsule has been hidden in a secret location!
Why does stonework perish?
Churches in our area are made of limestone blocks. While they are beautiful in colour, can be shaped and carved into to ornate sculptures and statues, and are very durable, the acidity of modern rain causes problems. The rain reacts with the surface of the stone causing it to dissolve. This can take decades, but a small and persistent drip can cause major damage over years.
A stone mason’s job is to take away the perished stone and make an exact replica with matching stone which will blend in over time. The stonemasons also recorded vital information when they were up near the roof, taking photographs or ornate carvings which are impossible to see form the ground. Get a close up view of them below.
York-based conservation practice Ferrey and Mennim were appointed as the Project Architects to support the delivery of the roof project. Director, Andrew Boyce, said: "We are delighted to be continuing our work with the PCC at Hull Minster, having been involved with fabric repair issues since 1999. The nave roof repair is a major piece of work and will be crucial in allowing the Church's development to continue over the coming decades.