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​WW1 Fund helped preserve and protect Wakefield Cathedral

17 July 2018

WW1 Fund helped preserve and protect Wakefield Cathedral

A national scheme to conserve and repair England’s cathedrals from which Wakefield was awarded almost £750,000 has significantly reduced immediate risks, a report published today said.

The £40 million First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, launched by the Government in 2014, invited applications from Catholic and Church of England cathedrals to address urgent repair works. The fund prioritised making buildings weatherproof, safe and open to the public as well as ensuring they would be in a safe condition to host acts of remembrance for the centenary of the First World War armistice in 2018.

Wakefield Cathedral received a total of £746.934 – this included £218, 394 on repairs to the lead roofing, £72,000 on restoring its collection of stained glass – with a further £456,000 specifically used to repair, protect and conserve the windows in the south end.

Wakefield Cathedral has an exceptional collection of 19th century stained glass and is home to one of the most outstanding collections from the studio of the Victorian artist Charles Eamer Kempe.

In total, of 146 awards were made to 57 cathedrals. Twelve cathedrals were awarded more than £1 million each, and the average award was £274,000. Grants were awarded over two phases between 2014-18.

Today’s independent report shows a significant reduction of problems requiring immediate repair as a result of the investment but warned that recipients all had outstanding repairs in areas not covered by the scheme.

Grants were awarded by an independent panel chaired by Sir Paul Ruddock, a position appointed by the Secretary of State. The Fund was administered by the Church of England’s Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division (CCB) on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

The report concluded that the fund had been successful in achieving its aims and met a funding need that could not be met elsewhere, adding that areas of cathedrals covered by grant-aided projects had been very largely changed from needing urgent repair to needing routine maintenance only.

During the four years of the centenary Wakefield Cathedral has hosted a series of First World War events including exhibitions and specially commissioned musical arrangements and plays telling the little known stories of Wakefield’s role in the First World War and the people that played their part. This Armistice it will hold a civic service and events to mark the anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Canon Tony Macpherson, the acting dean of Wakefield Cathedral said: “The fund has had a tremendous impact on us at Wakefield – not only have we been able to replace most of the failing lead roof and preserve and protect our glass – more importantly it has open up and allowed us new opportunities to engage with our city and beyond.

“This work will have a lasting effect ,” he added.

You can watch a short film that tells the story of Wakefield’s stained glass treasures made with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund before work got underway to renew the Cathedral in 2013: https://youtu.be/TvYH9RuaQxU

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