Focus on Professional Church Trades

Focus on Professional Church Trades

Looking after a church building is a complex and challenging task. Whether it is a Grade I listed medieval country church, a Victorian inner city chapel or even a modern suburban building, finding expert help can be a time consuming task.

That’s why the National Churches Trust runs the Professional Trades Directory (PTD). This online guide provides information on over 120 companies and individuals who can help with looking after, repairing and modernising facilities for churches, chapels and meeting houses throughout the UK.

The PTD is organised into around 50 key categories including asbestos removal, woodwork and carving experts and scaffolding companies. The directory also lists companies providing more general help, such as IT support, audio visual installations and fundraising consultants.

Enormous pride

Architects is one of the directory’s biggest categories, listing over 30 practices. One of these is Nicolas Jacob Architects. Church commissions, says Pippa Jacob, are satisfying because of the dedication of everyone involved.

“The clients – the parochial church councils – are really passionate about the buildings. The contractors have years of experience and are master craftsmen who take enormous pride in what they do. These are projects that need, and get, exceptional care and attention.”

Almost every church or chapel has an organ. One of the companies that look after them, and a member of the PTD, is Hampshire based Organ Design.

Director Edward Dove learned his craft from Matthew Copley who founded Organ Design and Construction in 1974. The company services pipe organs of all kinds for 150 clients. Edward says that the most satisfying part of the job is making a pipe organ that doesn’t sound or work well back into a usable musical instrument. As well as restoring Victorian and older instruments, he can also make new ones and is a specialist in voicing.

Church buildings require specialists to look after interior design elements. One of these is PTD member Janie Lightfoot, an accredited conservator and an expert at restoring church textiles. A new lease of life Janie’s interest in textiles began at an early age. She now runs Janie Lightfoot Textiles, a restoration and conservation studio based in North West London, that gives a new lease of life to textiles of all kinds.

One of the studio’s most recent church projects saw its eight-strong team of conservators restore two carpets by William Morris and a 1907 Edward Burne-Jones tapestry of the Adoration of the Magi.

Janie said: “The tapestry required a lot of surface cleaning. As the colours were unstable it was decided to take it to Belgium where a very specialised steam clean was undertaken. This was very successful. Not one colour ran. When it was reinstalled last year, nobody recognised it.”“We fitted the tapestry back in the frame and it looked fantastic. Together with the Morris carpets, the whole of the nave was transformed.”

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