19th January 2021

Restoring St Marylebone Parish Church in London

Sir Robert McAlpine Special Projects have been appointed principal contractor to the St Marylebone Parish Church Changing Lives project in London, that will see the restoration and refurbishment of this Grade I listed building.

The project aims to deliver one of the city’s most community-engaged heritage projects: a project which will change the lives of its participants.

The Changing Lives campaign will make urgent improvements to the building, including the Parish Church Crypt, which is in critical need of redevelopment and modernisation to house new visitor and community spaces with safer and more accessible entrance routes for all.

Due to its focus on restoration and accessing heritage, the project is partially funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  The work, designed by Caroe Architecture and led by Craig Chandler, Project Manager for Sir Robert McAlpine Special Projects, is set to start on site in January 2021.

The scheme will also provide individuals starting out their heritage careers with an opportunity to hone their skills with practical workshops. Owing to the strong link between St Marylebone Parish Church and the Building Crafts College, Sir Robert McAlpine will facilitate an on-the-job craft training programme for a number of second year Masonry and Carpentry students during the project. 

The building will remain open throughout, allowing public worship, the St Marylebone HCC and the Marylebone Health Centre (NHS GP Surgery) to continue. The project team will put measures in place to minimise disruption to worshippers, visitors and people working inside the parish church. During lockdown, essential support work to communities will be maintained in accordance with legislation and strict health and safety guidelines.  

The Sir Robert McAlpine Special Projects experts will work closely with a wider specialist team, which includes Focus Consultants as Project Director and Project Manager and Contract Administrator, Alan Baxter Ltd as Structural Engineers, Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP as Quantity Surveyor, CBG as MEP (mechanical, engineering and plumbing) Engineers, and Phillip Waller Consulting as CDM Advisers.

The project will remove the parish church from Historic England’s Buildings at Risk Register and, externally, conservation and restoration work will reinstate lost architectural features of the Georgian parish church and provide longevity to the roof structure through extensive carpentry works and recovering with new Welsh slate over improved lead detailing.

St Marylebone Parish ChurchInside the parish church, works will include the creation of a new staircase and lift to improve access to the Crypt, new internal walls, doors, flooring and upgraded mechanical and electrical installations. The Crypt and ground floor levels of the ancillary portions of the parish church will also be refurbished. Monuments and chandeliers will be removed and restored before being set back in place.

The Revd Canon Dr Stephen Evans, Rector of St Marylebone, writes, “The Parochial Church Council is very pleased to be working with Craig Chandler and the Sir Robert McAlpine Special Projects team. We have every confidence that this project will not only preserve an important Grade 1-listed building for future generations, but will help the parish church to continue and extend its vital work with the local community and to continue Changing Lives for the better as it has done for more than 900 years.”

Mike Coleman, Operations Director for Sir Robert McAlpine Special Projects, said: “The team is thrilled to be appointed to the Changing Lives project at St Marylebone Parish Church as it encapsulates Special Projects’ primary focus – complex heritage restoration and adaptation projects, and the unique challenges such works and structures present – and enables us to extend our expertise once more to an ecclesiastical scheme.

“The team performed superbly during the tender period, and great credit goes to Craig Chandler, whose academic and professional background, outstanding track record on similar projects and deep commitment to heritage conservation and refurbishment, made him the perfect Project Manager for St Marylebone Changing Lives.”

Paul Heather, London Managing Director for Sir Robert McAlpine, commented: “Changing Lives is a flagship heritage project envisioned by London’s foremost consultants and carried out to the highest standards by a select group of specialist contractors. We are delighted to see our experienced Special Projects team lead on this exciting scheme. We also look forward to working with established heritage and conservation specialists such as Caroe Architecture, Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP, Alan Baxter Ltd, Focus Consultants, CBG, and Phillip Waller Consulting, to restore the appearance of this magnificent building for the benefit of the local community and its many visitors.”

Dr Tristram Hunt, Patron of St Marylebone Changing Lives writes, “Parish Churches are not only custodians of our nation’s heritage, but places where communities can come together to worship, rejoice and mourn. St Marylebone Parish Church has been shaping, naming and sustaining communities for nearly a thousand years. I am particularly proud of the creative plans that the parish church has to extend its work with young people and the project offers inspirational opportunities to many in our community at a time of exceptional challenge. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in making this project happen.”

Stuart McLeod, Director London and South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we are proud to support the Changing Lives project at St Marylebone Parish Church. The historically-significant Grade I listed building will enhance its role as a hub for the community, creating new spaces and opportunities to engage with their local heritage.”

The works are due to be completed in 2022.

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