Steel roof to thwart thieves from Great Ponton Church

Church warden Bryan Bargh
Church warden Bryan Bargh
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A 13th century church is to replace the remaining lead on part of its roof in a bid to combat crime and prevent further leaks.

The Holy Cross Church at Dallygate, on the north side of Great Ponton, has repeatedly suffered thieves removing lead from its roof, leading to church officials to submit plans for replacement roofing to South Kesteven District Council.

A report prepared for the council said: “The chancel previously had a covering of leadwork, but most of this was recently stolen. Parish records showed that it had been stolen at least three times previously. A Polythene sheet has been temporarily laid over the roof structure to prevent water ingress.”

“The proposal is to remove the remaining lead covering to the chancel and replace with terne coated stainless steel. Given that the lead has been stolen at least four times, terne coated stainless steel provides a suitable solution that has little scrap value.”

Almost 50 square meters of roof at the Grade 1 Listed Building would be replaced. No cost estimates have been given for the project.

The planning application added: “There are no other changes to the existing building fabric. The chancel roof is very difficult to see from ground level, due to the raised parapet. We therefore believe that in order to preserve the historic significance of the building and prevent further leaking and water damage, the church should install a roof of terne coated stainless steel.”

During the latest theft in June, some 16 rolls of lead were taken from the roof.

Church warden Bryan Bargh said the theft was discovered the day it happened, which meant the church was able to install a temporary cover on the roof that day, which has been in place ever since. Carpet was also rolled up and the altar moved.

Mr Bargh confirmed the remaining lead on the chancel would be removed and then sold, which would help offset the £8,000 estimate for the job.

Due to the planning process, it was unlikely the work would happen before Christmas, and while the work would go ahead there would be no fund-raising for it.

He said: “There’s really nothing we can do. So few people come to the church. When we have a service only four people come to the church. If it’s a special event like a harvest festival, like we just had, 30 people turned up, followed by a supper at the village hall and that raised funds for the church.”

Lincolnshire Police investigated the June theft and quizzed villagers if they had witnessed anything, but a spokeswoman said “unfortunately, all possible lines of enquiry were exhausted and the crime was finalised as undetected”.

Thefts of lead from church roofs used to be “a major issue” but now it is “no longer a common problem.” This was due to changes in the law several years ago forcing scrap yards to take details of customers and make traceable electronic payments to them instead of paying them cash.

The spokeswoman added: “There’s still some dodgy scrap yards taking stuff under the counter but the number of thefts has dropped off.”

For advice on how to help guard against metal theft, visit www.lincs.police.uk/report
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