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Sheerness Dockyard Church stands at the entrance to the former Royal Dockyard on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. The Church is a Grade II* listed building which dates from 1828, designed by George Ledwell Taylor, Surveyor of Buildings to the Navy. Unfortunately, it has twice been badly damaged by fire, first in 1881 and more recently in 2001.
Work began in November 2020 on an £8 million project to repair the building and transform it from a roofless ruin into a beautifully restored landmark creating an education, leisure and working space including an exhibition area, café, offices and meetings rooms.
The project’s main contractors, Coniston, have been responsible for coordinating the restoration of the building, including installation of new windows and the replacement of the roof. Whilst the interior has been completely renovated to suit its repurposing, much of the existing fabric has been stabilised and conserved as found, preserving what is left of the 1881 interior and its structure of cast iron columns.
Artisan Plastercraft was appointed by Coniston for our expertise in heritage plasterwork. Tasks included conservation, restoration and replacement of lime plaster inside the church’s main hall, centred around the large archway at the western end, and applying lath and plaster to the internal window reveals. We found areas of plaster had badly deteriorated and so our conservators had to remove any loose pieces, retaining and refixing where appropriate and restoring plaster where it was sound, consolidating and patch repairing where necessary.
Some decorative features, such as the arch plinth and sections of cornice, required more intensive restoration, which was achieved by taking a squeeze of similar or opposing mouldings and using these impressions to build up detail and sympathetically restore the plasterwork to its former glory.
The revitalised building will be operated by Kent Youth Support Trust, a charity working locally to help young people establish financial independence through entrepreneurship.
More information on the Dockyard Church project can be found on the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust website. Please visit: https://sdpt.org.uk/