Water getting in through the roof of ancient churches is almost literally a recurring nightmare, with the anxiety, expense, investigations, negotiations and time involved. We've reroofed much of St Michael's, Little Coates in my time and we're monitoring the state of the roof at St George's, Bradley where a recent small repair stopped a trickle of water coming but also revealed that the fixings on the slates all seem to be near the end of their lives. Now it seems to be St Nicolas', Great Coates' turn. And one of the things St Nicolas’ doesn’t need at present (at it prepares to appeal for money to replace its failing 1960s heating system) is the need to do work of any cost or size elsewhere in the building.
The first photograph of the south aisle roof shows the markings which have alerted us to the problem. The second shows where a drainage pipe discharges across exactly this part of the roof. The roofing firm who’ve looked at it didn’t discover any obvious cause such broken or slipped slates which would have been easy to put right, so proper investigation will now have to follow.
Meanwhile it recommends just £120 worth of work to put a temporary plastic extension on the down pipe to bring water into the lower gutter and thus stopping the flow across the roof until the proper investigation and consequential remedial work is all done. The Archdeacon is happy for this to happen if it is genuinely a temporary move. The local Planning Department’s first reaction was that we’d probably need to go through the full process of planning permission (including, it added sweetly, providing proper drawings of the whole church) before it could say 'yes' as well, but it has been in touch today to say that we can put up the pipe.