Raise the roof! R10m re­pairs to start on Cape Town Cathe­dral

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ASANDA SOKANYILE

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.

asanda.sokanyile@inl.co.za

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