Published: 05:00, 19 November 2021
Work on rebuilding the former Sheerness Dockyard Church at Blue Town is on target.
Members of the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust heard at their annual meeting that six specially made timber roof trusses, each weighing 3.5 tones and 19-metres long, had been craned into position at the Grade II-listed building.
Trust director Will Palin said: “It is another major milestone.”
Members at the meeting on Saturday, November 6, were shown a film of the progress made on site over the previous year. They were told the project was still on schedule to open next autumn.
Mr Palin said: “The lifting of the new roof joists into place represents a symbolic moment as we approach the half-way point in this landmark regeneration project.
"I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved who have been working incredibly hard to keep things on track in the face of considerable challenges."
Behind the scenes, members are finalising plans to put John Rennie's original scale model of Sheerness Dockyard on display in the new building. The church's four clock faces are also being restored and will be returned along with the original weathervane once it is gilded.
The evening ended with a talk by trustee Andrew Byrne on the 1829 Quadrangular Store in the Dockyard. The once magnificent five-storey building was demolished in 1979. Only its clock tower was left. It's section of Rennie's model will be one of the first to be put on display next year.
Members also heard that in the year up to December 31, 2020, the Trust had received £441,612 in income from grants and had spent £387,171 on the project.
The church was badly damaged by fire in 2001 and at one stage looked like it would have to be demolished. The parapet is now almost complete and the interior ironwork cleaned and painted. During the summer all the external brickwork was repaired and repointed.
Mr Palin said: “It is an architectural masterpiece and one of the most important buildings at risk in the south east of England.”
The restoration is being funded by a £4.2million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund plus another £4million from 23 other trusts and foundations. Work started in November 2020. When complete, it will provide “much needed support” for young people and new businesses as a mentoring hub.
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