New cross for Aldershot RC Cathedral marks end of major restoration project
A new cross was blessed and installed at Aldershot Catholic Cathedral on Thursday 4 January, marking the end of a major roof restoration project funded by Aspire Defence Limited (ADL) and delivered by Aspire Defence Services Limited (ADSL).
Roof replacement works began in summer 2017 at St Michael and St George’s, which serves as the Roman Catholic (RC) Cathedral for the Bishopric of the Forces. Extensive surveys had revealed that the existing roof tiles were worn and the building was at risk of damage from rainwater ingress to the roof space.
More than 60,000 nails, 48 tonnes of slate and 3.5 miles of roofing batten were used to restore the entire roof. Bespoke Westmorland slate tiles were sourced from a quarry in Cumbria to retain the building’s unique original design, making the 300-mile trip to Aldershot. During works, the site team also discovered that the cross on the roof was cracked and water damaged. A replica cross was therefore commissioned and carved by stonemason Darren Hill.
Photo above – placing the cross: pictured left to right on the roof – Allan Thomson, Chief Executive Aspire Defence Limited; Mark Furnival, Assistant Head Infra PAC DIO; Fr Nick Gosnell (RC); WO Tom McCabo, Garrison Sergeant Major, Aldershot
Mark Bassett, Project Manager for ADSL, explained:
“This was a complex project which took two years to plan. Each tile had to be drilled by hand on site and we’ve also undertaken conservation work to safeguard the swifts and house martins found nesting in the eaves of the Cathedral. We refurbished the spire in 2009, so bringing the rest of the roof up to standard was timely and very satisfying. The whole team is thrilled with the end result and the building looks really smart.”
The new cross was blessed by Father Nick Gosnell (RC), Administrator for St Michael & St George’s, at a topping out ceremony attended by parishioners, Aspire Defence contractors and representatives of Aldershot Garrison and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). It was then carried up the scaffolding and placed at the highest point on the roof, on the same spigot where the old cross was located.
The re-roofing project was delivered by ADSL working with Southern Counties Roofing Ltd and Abbey Scaffolding, under the Project Allenby/Connaught (PAC) contract with the DIO, who support the Ministry of Defence (MOD) by delivering, running and sustaining the Defence Estate across Salisbury Plain and at Aldershot Garrison.
Allan Thomson, Chief Executive of Aspire Defence Limited, which funded the project, said:
“Aspire Defence is proud to have contributed to the preservation of a building which has significant historic, military and spiritual importance for Aldershot. ADSL’s skilled team of contractors fitted the roof in an impressive timeframe and it’s fantastic to see the new cross in position as a special way to mark the end of this major restoration project.”
Mark Furnival, Assistant Head PAC Infra (DIO), said:
“Maintaining the defence estate is a key priority under our PAC contract and it is a privilege to attend the ceremony to celebrate this preservation project. Optimisation and preservation of assets is at the heart of the Project, to ensure we deliver the Salisbury Plain and Aldershot footprint to its full potential and specification for MOD use.”
The successful restoration project has ensured that the iconic building, which dates from 1892 when Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone, is preserved for generations to come.