York Minster Roofing Renovations

York Minster is Northern Europe’s second largest gothic cathedral and has a long and varied history dating back almost 1500 years. Initially built with wood, the church has undergone numerous transformations over the two centuries, including complete refurbishments and organised repairs, and has survived two fires and William the Conqueror’s harrying of the North!

The history…

The first recorded church built upon the site was in 627ad and was a wooden structure built hastily in order to provide a place to baptise Edwin, the King of Northumbria. A stronger, more significant building began to be constructed in the 630s, with a stone structure being completed in 637. This soon fell into disrepair, though, and was dilapidated by 670. Saint Wilfred then repaired and renewed the structure when he became the Archbishop of York, paying particular attention to the attached school and library.

In 741, the church was destroyed by a fire and had to be completely rebuilt as a result. The new church was a much more impressive structure and contained 30 altars. However, this was damaged in 1069 during William the Conqueror’s campaigns to subjugate Northern England but Thomas of Bayeux, the first Norman archbishop arrived a year later in 1070 and organised repairs. The Danes then destroyed the church in 1075 but it was rebuilt in 1080.

When Walter de Gray was made archbishop, in 1215, he ordered the construction of a gothic structure, advising it to be similar to the architecture of Canterbury Cathedral and work began in 1220. A wealth of projects were undertaken, including the construction of Chapter House, the wide nave and the roofing and vaulting, and the cathedral was finally declared complete and consecrated in 1472.

Restoration work…

Since then, conservation work has been carried out regularly, including £2,000,000 spent in 1972 to reinforce and strengthen the foundations and roof and a £23,000,000 restoration project on the east front in 2007 which included the renovation of the Great East Window.

In fact, conservation is an on-going commitment at York Minster and is one of the largest restoration projects of its kind in the UK. Those in charge are dedicated to keeping the traditional architecture and heritage and, as a result, utilise a combination of cutting-edge science and ancient craftsmanship when undertaking any remedial restorative work.

They recently called on the expertise and specialist knowledge of the professional roofing contractors here at JTC Roofing – and we were extremely proud to undertake the roofing restoration work.

JTC Roofing…

The project involved replacing the North parapet gutter of the Nave roof, using terne coated stainless steel. The old lead was laid in very long lengths which contravenes all of today’s codes of practice and so had to be replaced. This is because lead expands slightly over time and, as a result, if laid too largely can creep and crack. Stainless steel, on the other hand, has a much lower thermal expansion rate, making it a much more suitable material.

The work entailed opening up the lead eaves to the roof and inserting the newly formed terne coated stainless steel pans of 0.5mm material thickness. The stainless steel arrived in coil form, requiring careful marking and forming up using dog ears at the step lines. The formed pans may then have the fronts formed and soldered (hot work out of place where possible) so as to form a drop into the sump outlets.

The lead then required careful re-dressing and lead welding wherever it had split. Also, the laps to the main lead roof sheets on the steep pitch were opened and re-nailed using 25mm annular ring shank stainless steel nails. Sand cast lead clipping tags were also lead welded on to the sheet to then restrain the centres of the laps in the sheets.

York Minster, and the adjoining school which we also worked out, is a fantastic example of the team here at JTC Roofing use our specialist historic renovation experience to perform superior standard roofing work, paying attention to the heritage and craftsmanship. Our team’s huge efforts, top quality workmanship and care to detail ensured the finished roofing restoration was completed to the best possible standard and in line with the Minster’s traditional design.

For more information on the services provided at JTC Roofing, including our period and historic roofing renovations, give us a call today.


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