Raise the roof! R10m repairs to start on Cape Town Cathedral
ST GEORGE’S Cathedral, the oldest in southern Africa and an important city landmark, is to get a refurbished roof, securing it for the future.
The good news that the cathedral has raised the necessary funds came this week, after the partial collapse of the roof a few months ago.
Work on the 110-year-old structure can now proceed, thanks to a R7.4- million donation from the national lottery, with R2.2m coming from “crowd- funding initiatives using social media, as well as donations from parishioners, international donors and companies”.
The roof problems meant certain parts of the church could not be used for worship, cathedral manager Franklin James explained.
Now, he said, the roof would be refurbished and restored in phases, as and when the funding became available.
“The entire project is estimated to cost at least R25m,” James added.
St George’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town.
According to architect Lucien le Grange, who will work on the refurbishment, the project is likely to take about six months.
They still have to decide on colours for the roof, which will then be restored in sections. Work can, however, only start at the end of the year or beginning of the new year.
“The entire roof has deteriorated through the years and because water also seeps through, the walls and ceiling are also affected.
“Parts of the roof have also deteriorated through the natural weather- ing process, with some tiles broken and other areas where rows of tiles have started to cascade, posing a danger,” Le Grange explained.
The cathedral is a heritage site and spiritual home to thousands of Anglicans in the city.
The roof had been under strain for some time, and the partial collapse occurred during heavy rains in August. No one was injured.
The Cape Argus reported at the time: “The collapse had been caused by water which had seeped through broken tiles and softened cement in the ceiling.”
James said congregants had become accustomed to the damaged roof, avoiding certain seating when it was raining.
“Especially in winter, services are accompanied by the drip of water into buckets,” he said, adding that the refurbishment plans were very exciting.
“We will be able to worship without dodging the rain drops and cramming into the dry benches,” he added.
Clay roof tiles will be used to refurbish the roof and James is hopeful much of the work will be completed before the next rainy season.
The cathedral’s fencing is another priority for the cathedral, given that security, hygiene and sanitation at the property had been compromised.
This would be addressed after the roof renovations were complete.
“We are hopeful that temporary perimeter fencing, as part of the refurbishing, which will be erected by the contractor, will provide a temporary reprieve from the current issues,” James said.