Birkenhead Priory – Merseyside’s oldest building – is to get a three-quarters-of-a-million pound facelift to stabilise and improve the complex.
The operation will include work on St Mary’s tower and spire, within the grounds of the priory.
The rest of the church – the first in Birkenhead – was demolished in the 1970s.
Almost £615,000 will be spent on building works which include repairing pinnacles on St Mary’s tower, lime-rendering exposed bare brickwork and repairs to cast-iron and wrought-iron window frames and tracery.
Structural repairs will be carried out to the priory’s North Range and a new covered staircase and lift will be built.
Medieval paving stones will be re-laid in the cloister and drainage will be improved. Repairs will be carried out to boundary and internal walls; redundant metalwork and railings will be removed and replaced with new railings and gates where appropriate.
A new store will be built to house medieval artefacts, gravestones and tombs. Landscaping features will also be enhanced.
The remainder of the cash will be taken up by departmental charges, survey and feasibility costs and archaeological investigations.
Facelift proposals were recommended in a conservation management plan shared by Wirral Council with the Diocese of Chester.
A bid for Heritage Lottery funding has been made in relation to improved visitor facilities at the priory’s West Range and improved interpretation measures across the site.
The council’s cabinet meet on Thursday to appoint a “preferred constructor” for the project.
Sections of the priory will be closed for some weeks while work is carried out but no extended closure of the entire site is anticipated.
Founded in 1150 the Benedictine monastery in the oldest building on Merseyside. Its remains are a grade 1 listed building and a scheduled ancient monument.
In 1318, monks from the priory were granted ferry rights by Edward II. The priory’s chapter house is consecrated as an Anglican church and is still used for services.
St Mary’s tower is dedicated as a memorial to the 99 men lost in the 1939 disaster aboard the Cammell Laird
’s-built submarine HMS Thetis.
The churchyard contains the burial vault of the Laird
family and includes the remains of John Laird
(1805-74) Birkenhead’s fist MP and co-founder of the adjacent Cammell Laird
shipbuilding company. http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/9399159.Major_repair_scheme_planned_for_Birkenhead_Priory/