The Need for Repairs
There are two principal reasons for the urgency of the proposed structural repair works. Firstly, externally, there is clear movement in the facing stones, and in particular the quoin stones/string course at the south-east corner of the Nave. See photograph below (taken recently, on 04/03/20).
The crack appears to be developing, when compared with similar photographs taken only last year (24/07/19).
At the time of the above photographs (July 2019), the Structural Engineer, Ed Morton, reported that “With ladder access we tested the quoins to the corner and noted that the quoins were very slightly live when tested, and recommended, on a precautionary basis, that the areas externally be cordoned off to prevent access below.” As noted, the condition appears to have deteriorated since, with an increased risk of falling masonry. The cordon within the churchyard remains in place, but urgent works are now required to ensure stability and safety.
The second reason for the urgency of the proposed structural repair works relates to the Platt Monument, internally. This was inspected (and partly re-pointed) by Taylor Pearce Ltd (Conservators) in July 2019, following a programme of earlier conservation repairs (additional fixings and re-pointing) that they carried out in 2012. The 2019 re-pointing was carried out as joints had opened up in the monument since the 2012 repairs, indicating that the wall behind had moved. A further inspection by Taylor Pearce in September 2019 showed that the recently re-pointed joints had again opened up by a few millimetres, indicating ongoing movement of the substrate over a relatively short space of time.
Taylor Pearce reported in September 2019 that “[…] it looks as if the majority of the monument (on the viewer’s left hand side) is stable to the wall and the narrower right hand side is moving away from the rest of the monument but is also stable to that right hand part of the wall. As the wall is cracked, and therefore in essence in two parts, it is ‘tearing‘ the monument in two but it all appears to be tied into the walls with no obvious loose sections.” The image below is from Taylor Pearce’s report (September 2019) showing cracks repointed in July 2019
It is important to stabilise the supporting wall as soon as possible in order to prevent ongoing damage to the Platt Monument, and to reduce the risk of further movement resulting in instability/dislocation, potentially both of the Monument and of the building fabric more generally. As externally, the rate at which the movement is developing is of significant concern.
Proposed Repairs to the South Wall, etc
The aim of the proposed works is to substantially reduce movement in the south walls of the Nave and Chancel, to prevent unstable masonry from falling externally, and to ensure that affected monuments are fixed to a suitably stable background internally.
Following an initial programme of opening up works in July 2019, the proposed repairs have been thoroughly specified, and are described in detail in the following documents, available on request:
– The proposed works have been Recommended for approval by the London Diocesan Advisory Committee.
– Camden Building Control has confirmed that Building Regulations Approval is not required.
– A Refurbishment & Demolition Asbestos Survey and Anthrax Sampling have been carried out of the affected areas. No asbestos/anthrax were detected.