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Work to begin on historic ‘At Risk’ St John’s Church in Lancaster

Chamber News

The Churches Conservation Trust are very pleased to let you know that work has started at St John’s this week, with an initial phase of repairs at high level including repairs to the roof, gutters and rainwater goods that will deal with the most immediate threats to the building whilst work continues on the development of a long-term reuse solution for the church in partnership with Lancaster and Morecambe Chamber of Commerce. 

Over coming weeks, you will see scaffolding being erected and works to protect the organ and interior joinery.  Work will start in earnest in July, and throughout August we will be hosting summer school programme of Heritage Building Skills for 18 trainees and apprentices from across the North West to develop traditional skills.  Work should complete at the very end of this year.  We are working closely with the specialist contractors to keep disruption to a minimum.

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. 

To read more about St Johns and the work the CCT do, visit