Heritage Roofing Skills Showcased on Martin-Brooks Project

Apprentices, students and staff from Sheffield and North Lindsey colleges, along with roofers new to the trade, were taken up onto the roof by Martin-Brooks and architect Stephen McConnell, where they could see the shallow slopes first hand. Director, Nick Brooks and heritage craftsman, Paul Wassell, demonstrated how the existing slates had been stripped and how those that can be reused are selected and re-sorted according to size and condition.

Sheffield’s Martin-Brooks has joined forces with fellow heritage building experts to share the unique work it is undertaking at a North Lincolnshire church with the next generation of roofers.

The specialist roofing firm played an integral role in a heritage skills day, held at Holy Trinity Church in Messingham, to provide awareness and training for apprentices and young site operatives.

Exact specification
Martin-Brooks is working on the grade II* listed church to renew all Westmorland slate coverings. The roof’s shallow and varying pitches are highly unusual and mean replacement slates have to be specified exactly to suit the angle at which they will sit and head nailed to improve performance.

Apprentices, students and staff from Sheffield and North Lindsey colleges, along with roofers new to the trade were taken up onto the roof by Martin-Brooks and architect Stephen McConnell, where they could see the shallow slopes first hand. Director, Nick Brooks and heritage craftsman, Paul Wassell, demonstrated how the existing slates had been stripped and how those that can be reused are selected and re-sorted according to size and condition.

A training rig and work bench were erected at ground level, so attendees could try their hand at cutting natural slate, as well as battening and re-dressing a roof slope.

Nick Brooks said: “Our work at Messingham forms part of a multi-phase project to revitalise this historic church. The very shallow pitches on the roof are extremely rare, making it an ideal case study for newcomers to the trade. We welcomed the opportunity to share our skills with an enthusiastic audience and help educate the heritage roofers of the future.”

The skills day was organised by Martin-Brooks in conjunction with Holy Trinity, Knox McConnell architects and main contractor, Historic Property Restoration. Heritage roofing consultant, Richard Jordan, expertly provided aspects of the training, whilst Denise Cherry of Yorkshire Independent Roof Training Group, assisted with planning and attracting attendees.

Specialist heritage roofer, Sarah Mae Jordan oversees ‘have a go’ demo of slate cutting, sorting and holing.

Ian Till, Holy Trinity’s church warden and project lead, added: “It was fascinating to see how the theoretical renovations of our much-loved church are translating into practise. Martin-Brooks’ knowledgeable team demonstrated perfectly the time, patience and skill required to complete the project sympathetically and we hope they have inspired attendees to embrace heritage roofing.”

Holy Trinity Church in Messingham has been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund of more than £200,000, for this first phase of an aspirational £1 million project to preserve the building for the enjoyment and use of the local community. Alongside the roof replacement, this first phase will include high level stone work and the installation of a redesigned rainwater collection and disposal system.

Martin-Brooks is listed on the National Federation of Roofing Contractors’ (NFRC) heritage register.

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