Historic Fenland chapel will offer work experience for College of West Anglia students
Work to an historic Fenland chapel will provide an opportunity for college students to learn on the job about building conservation.
Fenland's townscape heritage officer Taylena Fletcher has produced a report outlining work to the Grade II listed chapel in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Wisbech as part of a planning application.
In the report she explains the need for the demolition of a redundant external brick stack, localised stonework repairs and the replacement of UPVC rainwater pipes.
The report explains the chapel is no longer in use and has been unoccupied for several years. It has also been the focus of anti-social behaviour as the "open porch has attracted people who have been using it as a sheltered place for drug-taking and drinking".
As a result the planning application also seeks permission for the installation of new gates to the porch to prevent future anti-social behaviour.
Currently the council does not have any plans for the building and has agreed to allow local students to be involved in undertaking the proposed works as part of a training scheme delivered by the College of West Anglia and funded/managed by the Wisbech High Street Project.
Mrs Fletcher said: "Working with the College of West Anglia, the Wisbech High Street Project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered by Fenland District Council, plans to use this chapel for a series of training courses for students. One of the main curriculum areas at the CWA Isle Campus in Wisbech is construction training.
"With the opportunity to work on the historic Grade II listed chapel, students will have the opportunity to learn from trained and experienced conservation and repair professionals in a range of areas including stone masonry, roof repairs, plastering and painting and decorating. As a longer term benefit the fabric of the building will be improved and protected until a long-term use for the building is identified."
Removal of the redundant stack on the north side of the building is necessary both for safety and to prevent future damage to the building.
The report said: "The stack is believed to date to no earlier than the mid-late 20th century.
"The stack itself is showing signs of structural failure with a horizontal crack through a lateral mortar joint above head height. The lower section appears to have settled, leaving the upper section hanging from the chapel wall. This, in turn, is causing stress to that wall. If it is not removed, failure of the upper section is possible which would be a hazard to the public."
Once removed, any repair and repointing will be undertaken by Cliveden Conservation who will be following on to carry out stone repairs to the adjacent buttress.
The CWA’s course supervisors have been in close consultation withCliveden Conservation regarding the repairs and as part of the training for the college students, they will be invited to watch and learn about roof repairs.
Following on from this will be an opportunity to learn about the importance of routine maintenance to the gutters, hoppers and downpipes. Where any defects are identified, sections of the UPVC gutters and downpipes will be replaced in cast iron and painted to match."
Mrs Fletcher's report concludes: "All proposals have been discussed with one of Fenland District Councils Conservation Officers and it has been agreed, in principle, that a suitably designed gate could be installed to the front of the porch.
"They have no objection to the removal of the stack. The replacement of the rainwater goods and repair of stonework were also welcomed. Close consultation would be maintained throughout the works.
"The architectural and historic qualities of the chapel will not be compromised by the proposed works and no historic fabric will be lost or altered."
More by this authorSarah Cliss