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25 August 2019 | Vicar Writes

Restoration Works to our Cathedral Building

By Terry Wong

The last significant work to the building was done in 1991/92 when the roof tiles had to be completely replaced. Some plaster repair and repainting works were also carried out at that time, together with other minor works within the building.

Periodic repainting has been carried out since then. Our building faces the usual effects of weathering but over time, unsightly plaster peeling and blistering has surfaced. Since 2012, we have been testing various options to find a more permanent solution. We also compared notes with recent repair works in other historic buildings in the city and West Malaysia. Solutions have been explored and tested and the team has arrived at some conclusions.

The Building and Development Committee (BDC) set up an RWC in 2018, comprising members from English and Mandarin congregation to plan the work and see to its implementation, working with staff from our Estate Management team. Advised by Prof Yeo Kang Shua, our Conservation Advisor, the Restoration Works Committee (headed by Lee Chi Kuan) have tested and arrived at a workable solution.

Replastering and repainting areas on the internal and external walls will be the costlier aspects of the next phase of works. As we look closely at some areas, we are likely to encounter new issues which will need to be resolved, adding to the costs. The team had to do works on the Bell Tower recently and encountered unforeseen issues. That was a good place for the team to build up their experience and projections for other areas in the building.

As mentioned in April's AGM, we are estimating the costs of the next phase of restoration works to be around the region of $6 million. We are grateful to be given a grant of $977,000 by the Preservations of Sites and Monuments for this project. We also received another pledge of $750,000. The rest will have to be raised and soon, we will make known to the congregations how they can contribute.     

Other works will include electrical works to remove unsightly cabling that grew along with the changing needs in the Nave. There will be the eventual replacement of internal and external façade lighting, and the air cooling system and timely to do a review of our fire prevention measures and safety issues.
 
Below is a fuller list of areas which will be covered in the next phase of restoration works:

  • Plaster and painting of the external and Internal walls of the main building and the Transepts.
  • Electrical works – below floor channeling for cables, relocation of sub-distribution board (DB) at the back of South Aisle, replacement of lighting fixtures to the interior and the external facade, replacement of air-cooling system and plumbing work at the vestry and sacristy.
  • Fenestrations – work on the clerestories, protective glazing for the stained glass at the East windows and west porch; repair of window frames
  • Carpentry / joinery – Repair or restore pews, stalls, wood furniture, windows,
  • Replacing the West Porch gate with glass door
  • Poultice marble cleaning, replacement of carpet, wood floor
  • Washing of roof tiles, and
  • Cleaning / restoring memorial plaques, artefacts
  • Cleaning of roof slates

The Cathedral is a part of the civic district and has a significant place in terms of heritage and as a tourist attraction. Our building needs to be kept in a good state of repair as a witness to our sense of stewardship and responsibility.