London & South East

Keymer Tiles answers the prayers

Keymar Tiles - St Thomas Church Essex

Keymer – the UK’s oldest manufacturer of handmade clay roof tiles – has helped to resurrect the roof of an Essex church by providing 70,000 tiles to complete a much needed, long term renovation project.

St Thomas of Canterbury Church in Brentwood was in desperate need of a quality roofing product for its renovation – one that would last for many years to come and achieve a traditional and professional look. In order to accomplish this, architects for the project, Fergusons of Chelmsford, specified Keymer’s hand crafted Shire tiles made exclusively from Wealden Clay.
Taking several years to complete – between 2002 and 2013 – it was vital for the success of the project that a dependable product was used to achieve tile uniformity over all the separate roofs and across the years of renovation.

Starting with the re-roofing of the Chancel and Organ Chamber, this was followed two years later with the Nave roof being re-tiled, and three years after that, the North Aisle. The Lady Chapel and Vestry stairs and porch were next in line in 2008 and the project finally came to a close in 2013 with the re-tiling of the South Aisle roof.  As Keymer Tiles have been made in the same traditional way using clay from the same local pits since 1588, they could be specified with confidence by the architect, trusting that they would remain consistent throughout the long term project.

It was Cater Roofing of Maldon that was contracted to install the Keymer tiles in a fittingly traditional manner. Their 35 years of experience and expertise enabled the church to stay open throughout the renovation works – a technically challenging undertaking.

Various unique aspects had to be taken into consideration during this eleven year marathon project. It was imperative that the inside of the Church was protected in such a way so as to not encroach on the seating areas during services, so the Church’s close boarded ceilings were covered with heavy duty polythene to eliminate the possibility of dust entering the building.

Due to the vast areas of exposed tiling on view across all the roof surfaces, Cater’s craftsmen affixed each Keymer tile with copper nails. This is a specialised method of fixing over and above the standard tile fixing specification.

Copper nails prevent lichen & moss growth thus reducing cleaning requirements, are less prone to corrosion than steel nails, and are thought to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Keymar Tiles - St Thomas Church Essex

The original roof tiles bore the inscription ‘St.T’ in the upstand of the ridge, so in order to replicate this in the new roof, some of the original tiles were reused, of which several had to be rebuilt using red clay sections. These originals, incorporated with Keymer’s new tiles, provided a seamless finish, the old and the new tiles perfectly complementing each other.

Only Keymer could offer the very best tiles with the correct range of traditional styles that St Thomas of Canterbury Church and its four centuries of heritage deserved. The name Keymer has, since 1588, signified the very best in handmade clay roof tiles and their tiles have enhanced the character of buildings all over the world for over 400 years.

Keymer’s tiles not only delivered a fresh appearance but also one steeped in tradition. The result is a stunning church roof which has incorporated the highest quality, traditional materials and brought new life to the building in keeping with its long ecclesiastical history.

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Roma Publications

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