Earlier this year, the mastic asphalt industry’s most impressive projects and professionals were recognised at the Mastic Asphalt Council’s (MAC) Annual Awards hosted at the Royal Horseguards Hotel in London.

One of the awards presented at the event was the Challenge Trophy Award which recognises the most impressive project across the year carried out in the most testing conditions. In a field of outstanding entries, the award was presented to MAC contractor BCC Asphalt for the project completed at the Church of St Mary and All Saints in Fotheringhay, Peterborough. Despite the roof refurbishment being carried out during one of the coldest winters on record, the project was fully completed within a 14-day period.

The Church of St Mary and All Saints is a magnificent 15thcentury, Grade I listed building which has been home to a number of significant historical events, including the execution and beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587. The church roof had never been protected with a roofing system since the structure was first built and the natural stone and concrete substrate were allowing damp and water to penetrate into building. Urgent repairs were required to the roof to prevent further water infiltration and other remedial work was also carried out to the rest of building, such as stonework repairs to the church tower and the replacement of leadwork and timbers on the tower.

Over the years, moss had collected in the joints of the concrete on the roof and the concrete was severely water stained and absorbing water. Due to restricted access, the roof had never been maintained since the church was first constructed. Despite a National Lottery grant being rejected, funding was raised by the Friends of Fotheringhay Church. The appeal for funding benefitted from the patronage of HRH The Duke of Gloucester, as well as many other charitable donors, including a £700,000 donation from the HB Allen Trust who restore the fabric of churches.

The architect involved specified the use of mastic asphalt for the roof refurbishment due to the building’s listed status and the fact that mastic asphalt has an outstanding track record of use in heritage projects such as Westminster Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and Dover Castle. Traditionally consisting of graded limestone aggregate bound together with bitumen, today’s mastic asphalt systems are now manufactured using advanced polymer modified formulations to ensure all the performance characteristics of traditional asphalt systems, with the added benefits of increased flexibility, enhanced handling and sustainability. The incorporation of modern polymers into mastic asphalt systems has helped lead to its resurgence in the construction industry.

Three roofing contractors tendered for the work at the Church of St Mary and All Saintsand BCC Asphalt were awarded the contract based on the competitive price, track record of successful mastic asphalt applications and the fact that BCC Asphalt is a member of the Mastic Asphalt Council (MAC).

Due to the listed nature of the building, there were significant challenges in terms of the mastic asphalt application which was carried out at a problematic working height in very difficult weather conditions. The church is situated at the top of a hill and the applicators had to contend with extreme wind and very cold temperatures.
Four operatives from BCC Asphalt were involved in the roof refurbishment and the only access to the roof for the duration of the contract was two material hoists set in two stages of the scaffolding. One operative was on the ground mixing the mastic asphalt and hoisting it up to the first 50ft gantry and the second access point which was approximately 100ft up at the top of the church tower.

Once repairs to the stonework were completed and the existing surface had been cleaned and primed, sheathing felt was installed before two coats of a specially formulated mastic asphalt roofing system were applied, using advanced polymer technology to give the ideal combination of long-term durability, increased fatigue resistance, improved temperature stability and ease of installation. Mastic asphalt was applied at a thickness of 20mm in two coats to existing falls including the church’s perimeter gutter. Two coats of mastic asphalt were also applied at 13mm to the skirting of the stonework, before being painted with solar reflective paint.

The building was kept watertight as works progressed and different contours and curves of gutters were expertly matched using mastic asphalt. Due to the tight access to the asphalt gutters, it was extremely challenging for the roofing contractor to lay the asphalt skirting and complete the detail work.

BCC Asphalt is headed up by Managing Director Wayne Cooper, who first started off his career as a Mastic Asphalt Apprentice undertaking a four-year apprentice at Hackney College. He established BCC Asphalt with a former partner in 1992 and has been a member of the Mastic Asphalt Council for the past seven years.

He said: “The Church of St Mary and All Saints project was one of the most challenging I have ever been involved in over the years. The application was undertaken in February during one of the coldest winters in many years and the wind circled around the church from morning till night. It was an awkward application with severely restricted access, and not much room for us to manoeuvre, but mastic asphalt was absolutely ideal for this job due to the Grade I listing of the building and the detail work we could carry out using mastic asphalt.

“We are getting more work for heritage applications where mastic asphalt has been specified and are being contacted by the likes of English Heritage. This job is the third mastic asphalt contract we have completed on a Grade I listed building in the last two years and that looks set to continue as more people involved in heritage applications realise the benefits of mastic asphalt and its proven ability to offer a design life well in excess of 100 years. We need more mastic asphalt applicators in the industry to help continue its legacy,” Wayne continued.

This article featured in the November issue of Roofing Today – click here to download the article.