Students will get the chance to work alongside conservation experts to repair historic grade II listed cemetery chapel in Wisbech
PUBLISHED: 17:38 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:38 29 February 2020
Repairs to historic Mount Pleasant Road chapel, Wisbech, will be followed up by a gate to the porch to deter vandalism.
Current and future works are detailed in a report by Fenland District Council which reveals that students will get the chance to carry out some of the repairs.
The council says the grade II listed chapel is in urgent need of repairs and College of West Anglia students will get the chance to work alongside experts in stonemasonry, plastering, painting and decorating.
The works are being funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Fenland Council says the architectural and historic qualities of the chapel will not be compromised by the proposed works and no historic fabric will be lost or altered.
"The removal of the stack would not cause any detrimental alteration to the historic fabric of the building or its setting," it says in its report.
"It would remove a potential hazard and allow for repairs to the historic fabric of the original building.
"It has no architectural or aesthetic value and its removal would improve the appearance of the structure."
And they believe the future installation of gates "will protect this heritage asset from damage caused by anti-social behaviour". An application is due shortly.
"It will remove the secluded shelter currently offered by the open porch and prohibit the use of the space for drug-use, rough sleeping and prevent damage to the building."
Current works planned include removal of an external brick stack which probably once housed a boiler.
"The stack is showing signs of structural failure," says a report to the council's planning department.
Scaffolding will be erected to allow access for students and their tutor "so that they may carefully demolish it course-by-course disposing of the material down the chute into a chimney".
Cliveden Conservation will carry out stone repairs to the adjacent buttress.
The roof will also be repaired but the extent of these works will only be discovered once maintenance is underway.
The chapel dates back to the Victorian age; the 11- acre site was laid out in 1881 by the town council burial board.
"Around this time there was the desire to move burial grounds away from the centre of towns to reduce the risk from cholera" says the report.
F.J.Gardiner's history of the town shows that the land was bought in 1977 for £2,250. Soon after a loan was secured for the cost of erecting a curator's lodge, a shelter in which services could be held (presumably the chapel building), for laying out, fencing and planting the ground and other necessary expenses.
The council says the design of the gate proposed is sympathetic to the character of the building and will be made locally using traditional fabrication methods used by a third generation-blacksmith based in Wisbech.
The replacement of rainwater goods will be undertaken using cast iron, replacing the UPVC ones "which are inappropriate for a historic building and detract from the character.
"The iron ones will also last longer, helping to protect the structure from damp which can arise from failed downpipes and gutters".
The council says the localised stonework repairs will be undertaken by a recognised company "with an excellent reputation for working with historic buildings.
"They will undertake only the necessary of repairs in areas as highlighted. They intend to use newly quarried stone to match that of the building as closely as possible".
The council report added: "This work will provide essential repair to maintain the structural stability of key elements of the building.
"This work offers students from the College of West Anglia the opportunity to gain practical experience from professional craftspeople and a chance to work on a historic building in genuine need of repair.
"The decline in these traditional skills is something identified by Historic England and conservation specialists in this region.
"One of the outcomes may be that students take up a traditional profession in this area and provide a much- needed skill set for the future".
The council says all the proposals have been discussed and agreed in principle with one of their conservation officers.