Summary = St John the Baptist Church in Royston was devastated by a fire. Bakers of Danbury have carried out phase one of works which included securing the structure and stripping the fire damaged materials which were beyond repair. Bakers are currently working on the second phase.

Location = Royston, Hertfordshire

Challenge = National lock down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Solution = Bakers of Danbury were initially tasked with phase one of works which began May 2019 and involved six weeks stripping all fire damaged material and making the structure safe after it had suffered a devastating fire in the early hours of the 9th December 2018.

The fire which started in the tower devastated the tower and bell ringing chamber and caused significant damage to the medieval nave roof, in particular the west end of the roof. The church also suffered from subsequent water damage as a result of extinguishing the fire, which cause the floor to collapse.

After completing phase one of works, Bakers were awarded phase two of works which began at the fire damaged church in February 2020. Later the following month, due to the nature of the works and the confined working space, the project had to be put on hold during the national lock down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In May the works resumed with the introduction of social distancing measures, sensible planning and safe working procedures which were implemented by Bakers' SHEQ Manager, Contract Manager and Site Manager for the project.

During phase two, a new tower roof with steel supporting girders was installed and covered in lead. New window reveals (in Clunch) were installed within the tower and repairs were made to the tower internal walls, particularly at the belfry level where it had been seriously damaged by the instense heat. Within the tower a quatrefoil window was replaced with one handcrafted by Bakers' sister company Collins and Curtis Masonry.

Lower down the tower, Bakers repaired the walls by stitching them with large pieces of Clunch. Re-pointing the stonework further restored and strengthened the tower. New copings in Barnack stone were installed to the tower parapet and new ashlar indents were also incorporated.

To the naive roof, which suffered significant damage, Bakers repaired the original inner wall plate and introduced a new outer wall plate to support the rafters. New rafters were installed where the fired had damaged the original ones beyond repair. Those original principal rafters which were salvaged have been repaired and supported by installing large stainless steel brackets (individual brackets weigh 175 kg each).

All timbers have been ice blasted to remove fire and smoke damage, taking particular attention to preserve historical graffiti which although had been damaged by the fire, was still legible. A new lead roof (code 7) will be installed and all rainwater goods will be replaced with cast aluminum.

Ice blast cleaning has been carried out in isolated areas of the church which suffered fire and smoke damage, for example around the windows and doors. Various cleaning trials have been carried out throughout the interior and exterior of the church. Phase 2 of works will be completed to deadline, January 2021. Bakers are working in close collaboration with the Project Quantity Surveyor to monitor overall contract values, variation costs and the final contract sum.

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