Saltaire URC project wins gold at the National Churches Awards

12th December 2023

Saltaire United Reformed Church is named the winner of The King of Prussia Gold Medal at the National Churches Awards 2023 which took place at Mercers’ Hall, London, 6th November. The award celebrates innovative, high-quality conservation or repairs.

The Grade I Listed church is an important building within the Saltaire UNESCO World Heritage Site which attracts visitors from around the world. It was constructed in 1859 under the guidance of Sir Titus Salt, and architects Lockwood and Mawson and is a unique example of Italianate religious architecture.

In February 2020, Storm Dennis caused the partial collapse of the ceiling near the tower. This exposed a troubling issue with water infiltration in the roof space and the church closed to the public.
West Yorkshire based architects, Arctic Associates Ltd, was entrusted to investigate the root cause of the rainwater penetration with an examination of the tower. Cliveden Conservation was appointed as specialist principal contractor to carry out the external tower masonry repairs, lead works and internal plastering repairs including the redecoration of the ornate ceiling.

The restoration of the tower encompassed the re-pointing of the stonework at the tower’s base and the installation of new lead coverings, further ensuring the preservation and integrity of this historic structure. The new lime plaster ceiling involved replacement riven oak laths on battens and casting moulds to replicate the intricate elements of the ceiling that had been damaged. Multiple paint samples were analysed to achieve an authentic colour match for the redecorated plaster ceiling.

Saltaire URC welcomed back its congregation and visitors in December 2022. The restoration of the plaster ceiling and tower is testimony of exemplary traditional building conservation techniques.
The church architecture awards which include the King of Prussia Gold Medal are run by the National Churches Trust and the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association. They honour excellence and creativity in church architecture. The Saltaire winning entry received comment from the judges: they liked the good interdisciplinary collaboration to achieve beautiful results and stated that the project was a remarkable piece of work.

Russell Trudgen M Arch RIBA AABC, Architectural Director of Arctic Associates received the award and certificate. He comments:

“This was the first time Arctic have worked with Cliveden Conservation, and it was a pleasure. The skill and attention to detail for all aspects the repairs inside and out by their site operatives were a delight to witness. These guys are masters of conservation and brought their knowledge and expertise to this very special northern church.”

David Bloxam, Head of Architectural Projects, Cliveden Conservation, is thrilled that the project has won this prestigious award:

“The work was extremely complicated and involved many different and interesting challenges. Large areas of the ceiling had been destroyed during the water damage and the work to replicate it set our master plasterers an interesting set of problems. However, through careful recording of existing features, mould making, and accurate re-running of original mouldings we were able to restore the ceiling back to its former glory and thanks to paint sampling decorating it in its original 1850’s colour scheme. It was a real team effort, and we enjoyed the collaborative nature of the project working closely with Arctic Associates and Saltaire URC.”