VITAL work on securing the future of Ludlow’s historic St Laurence's Church is coming to a close.
In the past year in the order of £300,000 has been spent on essential repairs and keeping the water out.
With scaffolding and boarding being taken down soon people have been given a final chance to ‘go up top’ and see for themselves what has been done.
The final ‘roof top’ walk takes place tomorrow (Friday April 11) when people will see the finishing touches on the renovation of historic stonework and roof repairs.
A new heating system is also up and running to enable the building to be kept at a sustainable 15 degrees centigrade.
Shaun Ward, who is leading the St Laurence Vision project, says that the work is all part of securing the future of St Laurence's Church.
The church is keen to stress that the project is not about looking back but delivering a vision of the future in which St Laurence's is not just a place of worship but also a vibrant community facility.
It is already used by a playgroup and other organisations. Plans for the future will enable the building to stage concerts and other entertainments.
“This is a community building that needs to be able to be used by all kinds of different groups for various activities,” said Mr Ward.
“It was visited by 100,000 people last year so is a vital attraction to the town.”
In the coming years a number of innovative changes will be made including replacing the existing pews with more modern seating.
The biggest immediate change for people going into St Laurence's is the heating that is enabling the building, that dates back in places nearly a thousand years, to be kept warm while cutting heating bills.
A new gas fired system is now fully operational that is 90% efficient compared with the 40% efficiency of the old one which will save tens of thousands of pounds a year.
But this will only be the first step as the gas fired heating will within a few years become just a back up with environmentally friendly biomass fuel takings its place.
Other energy efficient and environmentally friendly initiatives will include installing LED lighting and discrete solar panels.
“We will become not just carbon neutral but carbon positive. The church will also be selling electrical power to the grid,” said Mr Ward.
But the completion of the vision project is a long way off and Mr Ward describes it as ‘like painting the Forth Road Bridge’ and something that can never be completely finished.
Most of the work so far has been essential and about saving the historic building.
“A lot of maintenance work has not been done in the past and this has caught up with St Laurence's,” he added.
“Some of the techniques were not as good in the past and there was work that was done with good intentions that actually made things worse.”
As people make the final ‘roof top’ walk they may also be shown the spot where an amorous young couple had to be brought down after celebrating Christmas in their own way at the same time as the Midnight Mass service.
Mr Ward joked that this is one bit of the church’s history that will not be commemorated with a plaque.
Caption: Luke Unsworth, a craftsman from Conservation Building Services repairing one of the stone pinnacles on the roof of St Laurence's Church