Costly repairs could cause city church to close

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Damage caused to a 260-year-old church by nearby sewer works could cause it to close for good and cost up to £1m to repair, claims the custodian.

A keystone toppled from St John’s Church on North Road on the day United Utilities started digging up the road outside as part of ongoing sewer works.

And custodian Mandy says other stones have been rendered unstable, and as a result, the church has had to close due to the risk of falling masonry.

Although repairs by The Churches Conservation Trust are ongoing, Mandy said it could cost up to £1 million for the building to be repaired.

Mandy said: “It was just this last week that the keystone fell and other keystones are possibly going to fall.

“It’s very very serious because the repairs are going to cost a large amount.The church closed as a working church in 1979 but it is still used as a heritage site and as a music venue.

“I feel that we really should be taking care of our heritage and can’t afford to lose any more of it in Lancaster.

“I can’t see it being suitable for concerts again this year.”

Dawn Harrington from United Utilities said: “Before starting any work we take into account any building in close proximity. If we consider the potential for structural damage, independent surveys will be carried out. For example the excavation at Lancaster bus station was 17 metres deep and within close proximity of some listed buildings. We had structural surveys carried and we continually monitored them for excessive vibration. No damage resulted.”

She added: “Our work on North Road is approximately 15 metres from the church boundary wall and 20 metres from the walls of the church.

“We are also only working at depths of approximately three metres. Taking all this into account the church and wall are not considered to be at risk.”

“That said our construction manager is going to visit St John’s Church to reassure them that the activity will have no impact on them.”