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£150k call to restore a Swansea icon

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: March 24, 2014

  • Church treasurer, Allan Jeffrey at St Mary's Church in Swansea city centre.

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SWANSEA'S civic church has been hit by a damning surveyor's report which has ordered £150,000-worth of remedial work to be carried out.

Now a fundraising campaign will be launched at St Mary's, which has been a site of worship since the 13th century.

Addressing leaking stonework was identified as one of the urgent priorities in the five yearly report, with some work needing to be done before the end of summer.

Other elements will be phased in over the next five years, when the total bill is expected to reach £150,000.

Church treasurer Allan Jeffery said: "It is a bit of damning news. The main problem is the fact that the stonework has become porous because it has not been maintained or serviced since it was finished in 1959. There is 55 years of water damage to the building.

"When the gutters get blocked, the water is free to run over the walls, hence the stones become porous. It has caused water damage inside the church and that has now become a real concern." The height of the building means specialists have to come in three or four times a year to clear the guttering at £300-£500 a time. But now the surveyor has outlined a whole host of expensive measures that need to be put in place.

Officials will pursue possible grants and also sit down to plan the way ahead.

"We need to consider a strategy and that will be done within the next three weeks," said Mr Jeffery. "Once that has been established, we will focus our attention on fundraising.

"I was not totally shocked by the findings, but the costings do concern us. They probably come about because it is such a tall building and we have to have professionals in who have experience of maintaining those heights."

"It costs £90,000 a year to keep the doors open without any substantial maintenance, around £1,800 a week. We are very much aware that there are many churches in a bad state of repair, but our message is that this is central to the town itself, an icon that many people visit, especially in the summer, and a place where there is worship seven days a week. We hold all the civic and annual memorial services here, and several concerts, and we wouldn't want that to be prevented from happening as a consequence of the damage to the stonework and flooring in the building itself."

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