Repair works set to begin on Royston church after devastating blaze
PUBLISHED: 12:51 24 April 2019
Repairs on Royston's St John the Baptist church are set to begin after it was severley damaged in December last year - with an expected completion date of Christmas 2020 at the earliest.
Since the blaze on December 9, church services – including this weekend's Easter festivities – have been carried out at the Greneway School, Royston Methodist Church and other community buildings, while the community have come together to raise a total of £26,000 towards the restoration fund.
Police and fire services have ruled out arson as the cause of the fire, after initially reporting it was suspected to be deliberate.
“We may never know the cause,” Phil Burchell, treasurer and project manager for the church, told the Crow.
“The bells have been inspected and unfortunately almost all are cracked and will probably need recasting.
“The memorial book is unscathed, and a suitable accessible location is to be found for it within our town.
“The response from the community has been has been very generous in terms of donations, and we've been able to use places like the town hall and schools.
“We are extremely grateful as church life has been able to go on, and most grateful for the continued support at this difficult time.”
Bakers of Danbury has been awarded an enabling works contract to clear all debris and non-recoverable items and take measures to protect all items of value, with work due to start on May 7.
The firm will also erect internal scaffolding to allow inspection of the tower stonework and nave roof timbers, and remove the bells, as well as investigating the areas of subsidence in the floor. These works are expected to occupy most of May and June.
Another important decision will be whether to refurbish the church's existing organ to a good condition for the next few decades, or whether to replace it either with another pipe organ or a digital organ.
Phil told the Crow work is expected to be completed by Christmas 2020 at the earliest.
He continued: “There's an awful lot to be done and we are doing all sort of different jobs.
“Things are starting to move forward, but it's a very slow process.”
The Church Sunday continue to take place at Greneway School. This has been augmented with other services being held at both Royston Methodist Church and the town hall.