St James' church is part way through a multi-phase restoration programme costing well over £1 million. The first - and most dramatic - phase was completed in April 2016 with the complete rebuild of the spire. The spire (the tallest in Wirral at 172 feet) had become unsafe. With the aid of a £250,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and a major fundraising exercise by parishioners, we achieved a restoration which was nominated by the National Churches Trust as the country's best restoration project of 2016.
2018 sees us embarking on Phase 2 of our restoration, which covers remedial work to the tower masonry and the complete re-design and upgrade of the rainwater goods and discharge systems at the east end of the church. Again, a generous grant of £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help us complete the work.
Subsequent phases will address the roofing of the side aisles, the masonry of the main body of the church and the conservation of the fine murals in the chancel which have deteriorated due to the chronic damp penetration problems.
Our aim is to have a building which is not just safe and well-preserved, but one which is adapted to the needs of serving the community in the 2020's. Completing the restoration of our beautiful building must be achieved within the wider context of achieving our long term vision for the parish.
It was a long haul, but the spire restoration was completed in April 2016. The last of the scaffolding was removed, revealing the fully restored spire. The new stonework can clearly be seen, including the replacement of the external decoration that had been lost in the 1950s. And so the appearance of the spire now resembles the way it looked for the first hundred years of its life. This "before-and-after" photograph shows just how dramatic the restoration has been.
It has been a fascinating process; and you can see it all in one minute flat! Watch this fascinating time-lapse video:
Following the successful rebuilding of the spire, phase 2 of the St James' restoration programme is underway thanks to the offer of another £250,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have also been awarded grants of £10,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation and £1,000 from the Historic Cheshire Churches Preservation Trust. The work is covering the following;
- Repointing, repairing and renewing defective stonework and tracery in the tower.
- Replacing and rehousing the dangerous slate louvres inn the bellchamber openings.
- Reconfiguring drainage routes and mending defective gutters around the tower.
- Improving access from the tower to adjacent roofs, in order to improve maintenance.
- Renewing waterproofing details above the chancel arch.
- Renewing defective guttering between tha chancel land Lady Chapel roofs.
- Addressing the poor condition of the flat roof of the vestry lobby.
- Removal of old unstable services installations in the tower.
Work began at the beginning of February, and is expected to be completed by August. The main purpose of this work programme is to eradicate the chronic dampness in the walls at the east end of the church. This dampness threatens the magnificent wall paintings in the chancel area (have a look at them by clicking on the St James' Virtual Tour on our Home Page). Some of the paintings are now deteriorating badly. After the current work programme is complete, the walls will eventually dry out, which will enable conservation of the paintings to begin.
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. We are so grateful to the HLF, for without their grant the project simply would not have been possible www.hlf.org.uk
We are also very grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation, who have recently offered us a grant of £10,000 towards the cost of our restoration. The foundation is a family-founded, charitable grant-making foundation which was established in 1958 by the Weston family. It supports a wide range of good causes across the UK, and since it was established has donated over £960 million.
A further grant of £1,000 has been awarded to us by the Historic Cheshire Churches Preservation Trust. We are most grateful to the Trust for their support.
Whilst we have received substantial grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other Foundations, the cost of restoration – and our eventual planned redevelopment – is such that fundraising is still required to make up a significant shortfall in funds. inSpire is the Parish's programme of fundraising to supplement the grant funding to help us to achieve our aims. The programme is varied and caters for many tastes and interests - all with a core theme of raising funds but also with the aim of increasing our engagement with the local community.
We have a number of events throughout the year, including Summer and Christmas Fairs – which showcase beautiful handmade craft ware, home grown plants, white elephant stall and a variety of fair-ground games and (in summer) a bouncy castle; frequent one-off events, such as Fashion Shows, Quizzes, Organ recitals, Brass Band concerts; and invitations to sponsor parishioners for challenges such as the Wirral Coastal Walk.
Please keep an eye out on our home page for the latest upcoming inSpire events.
We have a great deal of work to do to restore the building of St. James and, in the long term, to transform it into a bulding that can meet the needs of our community in the 21st century. We are so grateful for any support that you can provide and would ask that you consider donating via JustGiving below. It is quick, simple and secure. The Parish is a registered charity (registered charity number: 1138041) and can claim Gift Aid on any eligible donations. Thank you for any support that you can provide and we hope that you can visit the church to see the difference that your donations are making.