You wouldn’t expect an archaeological dig to form part of a roofing project, but for Sheffield-based Martin-Brooks, it is all part of the service.
While working on St Michael and All Angels church in the Derbyshire village of Taddington, the heritage specialists needed help to uncover the past and cure a soggy problem.
As land to rear of the grade I listed church was prone to waterlogging, Martin-Brooks was asked to extend its remit to improve drainage across the site. The churchyard is known to contain unmarked graves of orphans who worked at nearby Litton Mill in the 1800s, so expert assistance was called in to monitor the excavations and record anything of archaeological interest that was encountered.
Dale Wright, Martin-Brooks’ contracts director, said: “Uncertainty over the location of these shallow graves turned what should have been a relatively simple task into a painstaking process. Under the archaeologist’s supervision, we had to hand dig channels for the drainage until we were clear of the sensitive area. We have worked on many ecclesiastical buildings before, but this is the closest encounter we’ve had with their permanent residents!”
Taddington is one of the highest villages in the Peak District and its church dates back to the 14th century, although a Norman cross in the grounds is believed to mark the site of an earlier place of worship.
In addition to fitting new rainwater goods and drainage, Martin-Brooks also reroofed the vestry using reclaimed stone slates and repointed stonework. The three-month assignment was carried out in conjunction with Bakewell architects, Smith and Roper.
Martin-Brooks is a member of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors’ heritage register. For details about its work on historic and ecclesiastical buildings, telephone (0114) 244 7720, visit www.martin-brooks.co.uk or follow the firm on Twitter, @MartinBrooksLtd.