New project to keep Yorkshire’s churches well maintained

Published: Wednesday, August 3, 2016


The National Churches Trust has received £90,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Yorkshire Maintenance Project which will help keep churches and chapels in Yorkshire in good condition and prevent the need for expensive repairs.

Drone surveys of churches, training workshops to help volunteers maintain church buildings, and ‘Maintenance Booker’, a new website allowing churches of all denominations to book gutter clearances and other urgent maintenance tasks, are the key parts of the Yorkshire Maintenance Project.

The Yorkshire Maintenance Project will help to sustain the rich religious built heritage of Yorkshire. There are 1,095 listed places of worship in Yorkshire. This total includes 346 Grade I churches, buildings of the highest heritage significance.

However, maintenance of these important historic buildings is often neglected, putting their future at risk.

Key aims of The Yorkshire Maintenance Project

The HLF funded Yorkshire Maintenance Project will set up a maintenance management system to address skills and information gaps for churches in Yorkshire. The key aims of the project are:

  • To increase the number of Yorkshire churches that regularly undertake gutter maintenance
  • To promote awareness of the benefits of preventative maintenance through training
  • To improve knowledge of the conditions of churches at high/roof level
  • To result in heritage being in better condition as a result of the regular maintenance care and inspections

There are three parts to the project:

1. Drone surveys of churches to provide information and evidence for Management and Maintenance Plans, Quinquennial Inspections and immediate repair needs. Disks with images will be given to each church to share with their architect. The drone surveys will be carried out by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) - read about it on their blog here.

2. Training on church maintenance delivered by The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) to churchwardens and other volunteers responsible for looking after church buildings. They will set up four new maintenance co-operatives in Sheffield, Doncaster and York offering two days of training and advice on practical elements. This will involve training volunteers on how to inspect their churches and chapels and undertake common low level maintenance tasks. Churches will be able to develop a successful maintenance plan.

The project will work with the Diocese of Sheffield, the Roman Catholic Church and the Methodist Church to offer volunteer training to 18 churches and the high level drone inspections.

The list of participating churches includes

Snaith Priory St Laurence (Grade I),

Snaith Methodist Church (Grade I),

Thorne St Nicholas (Grade I),

Fishlake St Cuthbert (Grade I),

Wentworth Holy Trinity (Grade II*),

Beighton St Mary (Grade II*),

Norton St James (Grade II*),

Malton Methodist Church (Grade II*),

York Central Methodist Church (Grade II*).

3.  ‘ Maintenance Booker’,  a web based maintenance service, allowing the people tasked with looking after churches to quickly identify and secure an appointment for maintenance services through a qualified crafts person or contractor. The service will be available to all churches across Yorkshire, listed and unlisted and will launch in the autumn of 2016.

Michael Murray, Director of Church Support at the National Churches Trust said:

“The National Churches Trust is delighted to have the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Yorkshire Maintenance Project, which will help protect Yorkshire’s rich heritage of church buildings.”


“The Yorkshire Maintenance Project will help ensure that Yorkshire’s churches and chapels will be well maintained, with the risk of serious damage to them minimised. Through training and resources, including a new website to make it easy for diligent but often over-stretched volunteers to book critical maintenance, churchwardens and other people responsible for looking after churches and chapels will be able to give their buildings the love and care they need.”


“Regular maintenance is essential for churches. Something as simple as keeping drains and gutters clear so that water is taken away from the building efficiently is the most important thing a church can do to stop small problems developing into unnecessary crises. An overflowing gutter soon soaks the wall beneath, rots the roof timbers behind it and makes the whole building vulnerable. As well as keeping a church building in good repair, preventative maintenance saves money as it has been estimated that every £1 spent on keeping a church in good condition saves £30 in repair costs within five years.”


“We hope that the project will result in 274 churches in the dioceses of Sheffield, York and West Yorkshire joining the scheme.”

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and Humber, said

“There is a real need to raise awareness of the importance of regular maintenance and the care of our historic churches. This project will support groups in identifying and addressing the maintenance needs of their places of worship, helping to safeguard the future of our historic environment.”

Dr Julie Banham, DAC Secretary of the Diocese of Sheffield, said:

“This is an excellent means of enabling parishes to access new technology and training to ensure our churches are in the best possible condition. In the past, so much additional cost and work has been caused by poor repairs or volunteers not knowing who to contact for help. Getting the basics right, knowing which materials and methods to use, when to seek advice and having a regular maintenance plan in place will be hugely beneficial.”