Work begins on historic 'at risk' church in Lancaster

We are delighted to announce that urgent repairs will soon begin on a historic Lancaster church, deemed to be ‘at risk’.

The Grade II* Georgian Church of St John’s is in the heart of Lancaster’s High Street Heritage Action Zone and Lancaster Conservation Area. Vested in the care of CCT  in 1983, the church was once used for concerts, community events and home to a fair-trade café. However, this came to an end in 2015 following severe flooding during Storm Desmond, which led to deterioration in the condition of the building including dry and wet rot outbreaks.

Works will include a programme of urgent repairs and delivery of a Summer School in heritage building skills training for traditional skills apprentices from across the north of England. CCT have already carried out emergency works over the past eight years which has allowed for the church to be occasionally used as a community space. However, there has been an increasingly clear need for urgent repairs to the roof, tower, parapets and gutters to prevent further damage and potential loss of the beautifully crafted interior.

St John’s is currently on the ‘At Risk’ register, therefore the work will address the most urgent repair needs to the roof, making the building safe and watertight as well as better equipped to deal with changing rainfall patterns. The work will start from 10th June onwards, starting with the building of scaffolding in the churchyard. It is due to be completed in late December 2024 and will be carried out by Bullen Conservation Ltd, specialist heritage contractors with a wealth of experience in repair and conservation of listed buildings and historic places of worship.

The church will be closed for the duration of the works, but local volunteers will be ready to re-open after completion for tours of the building.  Alongside this, work continues on development of a project to bring the building back into use as a collaborative co-working space for the business community of the city. 

Later in the summer, around 18 traditional skills apprentices and trainees will spend a month in Lancaster at the summer school, taking part in workshops and assisting with the repair work at St John’s to develop their skills in the repair and maintenance of traditional buildings.   They will develop skills in traditional joinery, leadwork, roofing, masonry and use of lime mortars – skills being passed from craftspeople to a new generation of people to help the sector to protect historic churches and other buildings in future. They will also take part in specialist workshops at Lancaster and Morecambe College and visit other historic sites in the area. 

Find out more about the church here