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Cash for essential cathedral repairs

SE1's two cathedrals have been awarded grants of £31,000 by English Heritage to enable essential work to take place as part of the £1 million of grants for repairs to cathedrals in England.

This is the fifteenth round of grants since English Heritage's Cathedral Grants scheme was launched in 1991 when a survey revealed that England's 61 cathedrals were suffering greatly from the ravages of time. Since then the scheme has contributed a grand total of 40.8 million towards the repair of some of England's greatest buildings, ensuring that none of our cathedrals are at risk. The emphasis this year is on repairs which are essential to the long-term maintenance of the building.

Southwark's Anglican Cathedral, which receives some 250,000 visitors annually, has received a grant of 21,000 for improved fire protection and health and safety access by the fitting of new fire doors and safety wiring at high level. This is the second stage of a programme of works begun in 2003, which has received English Heritage grants totalling 76,000.

"This work will not only ensure the safety of the congregation and visitors, but would limit any damage caused if a fire broke out and therefore effectively protect the cathedral, which is the only Grade I listed building in Southwark, and an important local tourist destination" said
the Very Revd Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark.

"The English Heritage grants scheme has been extraordinarily successful in stimulating cathedral conservation and repair. It serves as a springboard to essential additional funding for middle income cathedrals like Southwark. We anticipate the need for approximately 2.5 million in the next five years to continue this important work and believe the English Heritage system and the work of the Heritage Lottery Fund to be vital to our national cultural inheritance."

Further work to install fire doors in the roof spaces of the nave will take place next year, which will ensure the whole cathedral is fully protected.

St George's Roman Catholic Cathedral is benefiting from a grant of 10,000 for repairs to the stonework of the turret of the south east Sacristy. It became unstable and was boarded up seven years ago, while awaiting funds to allow repair.

The turret is part of the original 1848 cathedral, designed by the Victorian architect A.W.N. Pugin, which was largely destroyed by bombing in 1941. Work will start in May, when the upper part of the turret will be dismantled and rebuilt using the existing stone where possible.

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