Fotheringhay News

December 2017

Xestobium rufovillosum is a creature much shorter than its own name when written but with a much greater impact.  Not having a significant call, this tiny creature is able to generate a tapping or "ghastly ticking" sound in the rafters and roof timbers of old buildings which is audible at quiet times, in still places, sometimes in the dead of night, superstitiously signifying that maybe "somebody's days are numbered", as Mark Twain wrote.

At the progress meeting of the Church Restoration Project Management Group (Standing Committee), involving architect, quantity surveyor and principal contractor personnel, it emerged that, having now opened up the tower roof of St Mary's and All Saints' Church, Fotheringhay, contractors have discovered that the concealed structural timbers of the tower roof have slowly disintegrated as time has been ticking away.  The wall plates need to be replaced and the spanning timbers now need to be reinforced with additive structural splices.

It transpires that when the tower leadwork gutters were renewed in the late 1980s the contractors of the day did not identify the parlous state of the timbers and simply roofed over them.  This then misdirected the architect in 2016, because it was believed that the existence of new gutter leadwork on the tower indicated that the timbers would be structurally sound.  The architect reported at the time that the timbers appeared in a satisfactory condition when surveyed from below.

Since an expensive scaffolding is already in place over the tower, members of the Standing Committee have been advised rapidly to instruct the repairs, which will necessitate the installation of additional scaffolding, including a major 'crash-deck' structure and 'birdcage' construction inside the tower.

This additional scaffolding has to be hauled up 140 feet and then lowered 60 feet through the roof opening and into the tower.  When the new beams and wall plates have subsequently been installed the scaffolding then has to be lifted 60 feet inside the tower, out through the roof opening before then being lowered 140 feet down the outside of the building to the ground.  Needless to say, there are significant cost implications and the potential for delays to the completion of the work on the tower.

It is the view of the Standing Committee and Fotheringhay PCC that work on the tower, with all its encompassing external and internal scaffolding in place, should proceed, even if, ultimately, funding limitations mean that total refurbishment of all four roofs of the church is no longer financially viable.

Meanwhile, work on the Servery and the flower and facilities cupboards is nearing completion.

Despite external appearances to the contrary, the Church of St Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay, continues to be operational.

Tim Stimpson



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Page last updated: 10th Jan 2018 2:21 PM