London’s National Churches Trust – a charity dedicated to promoting and supporting church buildings of historic, architectural and community value across the U.K. – has received 90,100 British pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Yorkshire Maintenance Project, which will involve using drones to help keep churches and chapels in Yorkshire, Northern England, in good condition and prevent the need for expensive repairs.
Key parts of the project will include unmanned surveys of churches; training workshops to help volunteers maintain church buildings; and “Maintenance Booker,” a new website allowing churches of all denominations to book gutter clearances and other urgent maintenance tasks.
According to the National Churches Trust, the Yorkshire Maintenance Project will help to sustain the rich religious built heritage of Yorkshire. There are 1,095 listed places of worship in Yorkshire; this total includes 346 Grade I churches, buildings of the highest heritage significance, says the charity.
However, according to the group, maintenance of these buildings is often neglected.
The National Churches trust says the drone surveys will provide information and evidence for management and maintenance plans, quinquennial inspections and immediate repair needs. Disks with images will be given to each church to share with its architect. The unmanned inspections will be carried out by the Museum of London Archaeology.
“Regular maintenance is essential for churches,” explains Michael Murray, director of church support at the National Churches Trust. “Something as simple as keeping drains and gutters clear so that water is taken away from the building efficiently is the most important thing a church can do to stop small problems developing into unnecessary crises. An overflowing gutter soon soaks the wall beneath, rots the roof timbers behind it and makes the whole building vulnerable. As well as keeping a church building in good repair, preventative maintenance saves money as it has been estimated that every 1 British pounds spent on keeping a church in good condition saves 30 British pounds in repair costs within five years.”