A major re-roofing project to preserve one of Aldershot’s most iconic buildings gets underway this week.

The existing roof of St Michael’s & St George’s – the Roman Catholic Cathedral for the Forces, located on Queens Avenue – is being replaced, with 48 tonnes of slate tiles due to be laid over coming months.

Around 60,000 nails and 3.5 miles of roofing batten will be used in completion of the works on the listed building, which dates from 1892 when Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone.

The project is being delivered by Aspire Defence Services Limited (ADSL) (funded by Aspire Defence Limited), contracting with Southern Counties Roofing Contractors Ltd and Abbey Scaffolding. ADSL is contracted under Project Allenby/Connaught to maintain the defence estate at Aldershot and several Salisbury Plain garrisons on behalf of the MOD; the company refurbished the Cathedral’s spire in 2009.

Mark Bassett, Project Manager for ADSL, says, “The tiles on the current roof are of the original construction, are visibly worn and have become compromised over time, allowing water seepage into the church’s roof space. These works will ensure that the building is weather-proofed for decades to come.”

The project has taken two years to plan, including annual condition surveys of the building to test for water tightness. Bespoke slates were procured from a 400-year old Cumbrian quarry, to ensure the new roof is in keeping with the building’s distinctive gothic revival design. Surveys have also been carried out to assess the Cathedral’s resident swift population and safeguard the birds’ habitat.

Scaffolding is now being erected and is likely to take ten weeks to complete; roofing contractors move onto site in six weeks. The Cathedral will remain open as usual during the project, which is due to finish at the end of the year.

“This building holds great historical and current importance, both for Aldershot and the wider military community, and ADSL is proud to be responsible for its renovation and ongoing maintenance,” says Mark. “We will work very closely with all parties to ensure that any potential disruption is minimised during this significant project.”