Over the summer months much of the work being carried out regarding the Quire repair and restoration has been ongoing away from the actual building. For the first time in probably six hundred years, huge stone slabs covering the roof of the Quire have been prised apart – and some removed – so that our professional advisers could discover exactly how the roof was constructed, what the internal design is and how best we can manage its repair and restoration.
Although we still await the written report from our architect, we now know that the cracking and movement evident on the south wall and east gable of the Quire has been caused by the great weight of the roof bearing down on the walls and causing slippage deep in the 14th century (perhaps, even, 12th century!) clay foundations. Interestingly, thanks to research by one of our members, Professor George Maxwell, we also know that coal mining never took place under the church or the central part of Bothwell. Excavation works undertaken have shown that there is no evidence of any such movement having taken place over the first five hundred years of the Quire’s life to match that which has happened within the last one hundred and fifteen years.
Cracks to the west end of the Quire are believed to be associated with the reconstruction of the tower in 1840 and the last restoration of the building in 1932.
A ROOF FULL OF SURPRISES
Stone fragments of the roof slabs have been analysed by the British Geological Society with surprising results. Rather than being an impervious stone that throws off rainwater as is the norm for present day roofing, it is in fact a highly permeable stone. It is thought that this covering was specifically designed to partially absorb rainwater and then evaporate it away, thus reducing the deluge of run-off from the roof.
Almost unique in Scotland, the roof can be regarded as analogous in design to a thatched roof rather than the more usual slate.
The roof tiles appear to originally have been solidly bedded in place, but with no pointing. Over the years, pointing has been added in many areas but, given the surprising characteristics of the stone, this pointing has had the effect of trapping moisture within the roof and accelerating the deterioration of the bedding mortar. As a result there is now serious deformation of the roof covering and downward movement of the stone structure. Repair and restoration is, therefore, an urgent necessity if the building of the Quire is to remain in use.
RAISING THE FUNDS
While all this technical work has been undertaken, there has also been a hive of activity preparing and submitting applications for grant aid both large and small. Already the congregation, through their regular giving to the church, has supported from our local funds the costs involved in the Investigatory Phase. This has been underwritten (should its use become necessary) by a loan facility of £76,000 from the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland. A further £80,000 has been successfully raised, from contributions from generous donors both within and outwith the congregation, to pay for the Development Phase which will allow the main project to be determined. The cost of the main phase has been estimated to be in the region of £1.5million.
Enquiries have been made by members of the congregation as to how they might make personal donations to this project. Such interest is greatly appreciated. It is planned that, as soon as solid information is to hand, an official Restoration Appeal will be launched locally, nationally and internationally. With our advisers urging us to begin the main phase of work sometime next year, there is no time to lose in raising the funds required.
On behalf of the Restoration Group