Work gets underway tomorrow (Monday 18 July) on the repairs to the plaster on the walls high above the Choir Stalls. First thing is to erect secure and extensive scaffolding, strong enough to allow several workmen and their tools to work at high level. Naturally this will cause some disruption to the daily life of the Cathedral. Most notable will be the scaffolding between congregation and high altar, and the fore-shortening of the Cathedral nave. Weekday Eucharists will be held at St Barnabas College Chapel, with Morning Prayer being prayed in the Cathedral Office. All being well the work should be completed in about three weeks, in good time to have the Cathedral back to normal in time for the farewell service for Archbishop Jeffrey and Lindy Driver on 19 August.
The falls of plaster have prompted an urgent re-look at the Conservation Strategy document presented to the Vestry Meeting in March 2014. In that document the most urgent task was identified as access to the roof and gutters at all levels. Changed WHS regulations mean it is presently impossible to do the essential cleaning and maintenance on much of the Cathedral roof and guttering, leading to blockages and leaks into the building – the possible cause of the present problems. The expense involved has meant that this work has been deferred pending major fund raising for restoration of the building.
A small group of experts is currently reviewing the priorities identified in the Conservation Strategy report, and considering fundraising options including seeking grants and outright donations. The Adelaide City Council has already approved an initial emergency grant of $20,000 towards the internal work over the next few weeks (estimated at well over $50,000 – much of it the cost of scaffolding).
Meanwhile, once the engineers and building experts were able to take a good look at the roof and walls above the choir stalls, it became clear too that the hanging rood cross is a definite safety issue. In the light of this advice, and while we have access to it, the Archbishop has given permission for it to be taken down for the time being.
We will continue to keep you informed of developments. Be assured that the Cathedral is structurally sound but does need the work outlined above to be done sooner rather than later. Please feel free to speak to any of us about what is happening.
Yours in the service of Christ and His people,
17 July 2016