When St Laurence’s Church in Slough was robbed of the original lead lining from its roof valley gutter, its parish warden was determined to find an alternative rather than replace the metal and risk thieves striking again.
The 12th century church in the parish of Upton-cum-Chalvey is the oldest building in the borough. It is protected by a Grade I-listing. As such, it came as no surprise to warden Allan James – who is responsible for three churches in the parish – when insurers told him the roof would have to be replaced with the original metal to the tune of £12,000.
Mimicking the look of lead and copper roofs, these high-performance waterproof membranes are proving a popular choice for buildings affected by metal theft.
Having received an insurance payment of just £4,000 to cover repair work, Allan lobbied to use Sarnafil’s Lead Grey membrane instead of lead. “The gutter is hidden from public view, so I was determined not to put lead back up there,” he says. “It’s just like feeding the birds – the more ‘food’ you put out, the more they come back.”
With the local police – who say there are seven metal thefts reported per day in Berkshire – in support of Allan’s proposal, he was able to persuade council and planning authorities to specify single ply.
“Sarnafil was the ideal replacement. Its flexibility and welded nature meant it was relatively easy to fit between the two pitched tiled roofs either side. We got the job done within a week, which meant we were able to protect the church from water ingress while we worked. The thieves damaged the downpipe rainwater hopper when they took the lead, so we replaced that, too. Overall we were very pleased with the finished roof.”
The best alternative
Allan, too, is delighted with the finished roof. “I’m very pleased with it’s lead grey colour, you wouldn’t know it’s not metal. In my opinion it’s the best alternative – it was suggested we use aluminium or stainless steel, but that makes such a noise when it rains. And felt is not the answer. By using Sarnafil we’ve not only saved around £3,000, but the product is also protected by a 10-year guarantee – and it won’t appeal to local criminals.”