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Historic church refurb gets royal recognition

The initial stage of the refurbishment of a Norman parish church in Minchinhampton, which included the fitting of an entire new heating and plumbing system and pump room by SW&L, was commemorated at a ceremony by the Princess Royal.

Joined by her husband, Sir Tim Laurence, and other local dignitaries, the Princess Royal met the engineers and builders who had worked on the project and unveiled a commemorative plaque.

Alongside structural work, the initial stage of refurbishment, funded by the £1.25 million ‘6 Ps’ campaign headed up by the Princess Royal, saw the removal of the church’s ageing boilers and all associated pipework under the care of builders, Nick Miles Building Contractors, and heating, plumbing and electrical specialists, SW&L.

“The first stage of the project has been a challenge,” said Nick Miles, director of Nick Miles Building Contractors. “The building has not had any major renovation work since the Victorian era, so it really takes extra time and care to consider every aspect of our work.”

“It is a very sensitive and collaborative job,” explained Alistair McNeil, SW&L contracts manager. “The project is designed to ‘protect the past, preserve the present and plan for posterity’, which means that we have to work around the existing structure and important elements of the church, whilst providing the congregation with modern comforts.”

The church was in desperate need of a new system, so the old hot and cold water pipes throughout the church were disconnected and removed by engineers. They then installed a new plant room with two commercial boilers, along with associated pipework. 

“The church itself brought some additional challenges to the install,” continued Mr McNeil. “There was an issue with fitting the flue, for example, as the design of the church made it almost impossible to connect it from the church’s roof to the boiler room. After several attempts, we managed to manipulate the liner down, which took several days, and had to chase part of the plant room wall to get it in.”

Underfloor heating was also fitted throughout the building by contractors, Jupiter, to bring the building’s heating system up-to-date. In the areas that this could not reach, SW&L installed a new radiator circuit, as well as providing circulation pipework to the underfloor manifolds.

The fundraising effort is still in full-swing to reach the total needed for the refurbishment.

“It was fantastic that our work could be admired by the Princess Royal, who is the project’s patron,” said Mr McNeil. “We’re looking forward to the next stage of this historic project.”

29 May 2018

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