Heavy rain puts cathe­dral at risk

In May, the ET re­ported Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral has launched a huge fundrais­ing cam­paign to help pro­tect the roof of the nave. YVONNE MARTIN finds out more.

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News -

EV­ERY time there is a heavy down­pour, one of the city’s most pre­cious trea­sures is in po­ten­tial dan­ger.

The nave ceil­ing at Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral faces this pos­si­ble threat be­cause the pipes which take wa­ter away from the roof would not be able to cope with the in­creased vol­ume of wa­ter that could come with par­tic­u­larly heavy rain­fall.

The cathe­dral wants to tackle the prob­lem to pre­vent the un­think­able hap­pen­ing – wa­ter seep­ing in and dam­ag­ing the price­less nave ceil­ing be­neath – and so has launched an ap­peal to raise £100,000.

The money will be used to put hop­pers on 40 of the cathe­dral’s 60 down­pipes, so in­creas­ing the ca­pac­ity of the pipe sys­tem.

The Dean’s as­sis­tant Canon Richard Cat­tle said: “They sim­ply don’t have the ca­pac­ity to take away large quan­ti­ties of wa­ter in a hurry.”

There has been no dam­age done so far, but Canon Cat­tle said: “We have had one or two near misses. When there’s a heavy down­pour you can see the down­pipes are strug­gling to get the wa­ter away. We felt once or twice it’s been dan­ger­ously near the ca­pac­ity.”

And the thought of this caus­ing dam­age to the ceil­ing is “un­think­able” he said, so the plans were put in place to in­stall pre­ven­tive mea­sures.

He ex­plained: “We are the cus­to­di­ans of a great trea­sure and we take that re­spon­si­bil­ity se­ri­ously.”

He be­lieves cli­mate change is bring­ing in­creas­ingly in­tense rain­fall and it is the cathe­dral’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to guard against the po­ten­tial threat from this. Do­ing noth­ing is not an op­tion.

“If it never hap­pens – fan­tas­tic, but if it hap­pens what will peo­ple say and how will we feel? Our own ob­ser­va­tion tells us rain­fall is com­ing down with greater in­ten­sity.

“We have seen that the wa­ter on the roof is ap­proach­ing dan­ger level be­cause the down­pipes are work­ing to ca­pac­ity. Cli­mate change is im­pact­ing on us.

“Our feel­ing at the moment is this is a real risk. In the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­ity down­falls of rain will be­come more in­tense.”

Canon Cat­tle de­scribed the nave ceil­ing as “one of the best kept se­crets in Peter­bor­ough”.

For many peo­ple the West Front is the im­age that comes to mind when they think of the cathe­dral, but he said: “The ceil­ing is in many ways far more dra­matic.”

It con­sists of 40 lozenge­shaped pic­tures show­ing the arts and ed­u­ca­tion of the 13th cen­tury and the im­ages por­tray mu­si­cians, teach­ers, monks, saints and an­gels.

There is an im­age of the sun and moon in char­i­ots. A woman por­trays as­tron­omy with a sphere in her hands. Math­e­mat­ics is shown with a man hold­ing an aba­cus.

Ge­om­e­try, rhetoric and gram­mar are also por­trayed. An ass is seen play­ing a harp. Vis­i­tors can see the ceil­ing pic­tures by us­ing the in­ter­ac­tive screens at the Cathe­dral.

The pic­tures were orig­i­nally painted on to oak be­fore be­ing put in place and are ir­re­place­able.

Canon Cat­tle said: “If you get wa­ter in, it would go into the tim­ber on which these paint­ings are mounted and the paint peels off and then it’s lost for ever.

“It’s a chal­lenge, but it’s some­thing we have to re­spond to.”

Pic­ture: bEn daVIs

ap­pEal: Canon Richard Cat­tle in the cathe­dral. (8BD0111400)

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