Now that the rebuilding of St James’ spire is finished (complete with gold medal award for being the nation’s best church conservation project of 2016!), we are moving
towards the start of Phase 2 of the church’s restoration programme. This won’t be as spectacular as the spire rebuild, but it will be equally as important.
The second phase will focus on eliminating the chronic damp problems which have been afflicting the building for many years. The roofs and guttering at the east end of
the church have been inadequate and the resulting dampness has caused the internal plasterwork to perish. St James’ is the home of some magnificent wall paintings,
created by the renowned Victorian artist Alfred Hemming, which are deteriorating because of the damp. Curing this will halt their deterioration and allow these
spectacular murals to be conserved. Whilst the scaffolding is in place for this work, repairs to some dangerous stonework in the tower will also be undertaken.
Another huge Lottery grant
The Heritage Lottery Fund have offered us a grant of £250,000 towards the cost of the work. We are extremely grateful for this generous grant, which is the same amount as the huge grant we received towards the spire restoration. Neither the spire rebuild nor this next restoration phase could have happened without them. However, the grant will cover only half the cost of the work, so the church will continue its programme of fundraising through social events, concerts and seeking sponsorship from local businesses.
The work is scheduled to start in July and finish early in 2018. When completed, the church will be water-tight, the walls will begin to dry out and we can turn our attention to conserving the magnificent wall paintings. Meanwhile, do come along and see the wonderful interior of St James’. It is open between 11 am and 1 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, and from noon to 2 pm on Sundays. You will also be able to visit the fascinating New Brighton Heritage Centre which is located in the church.