Goulburn’s Sts Peter and Paul’s restoration battles pigeons
Restoration workers on Sts Peter and Paul’s Cathedral had an unenviable task before they embarked on a tricky section of the project.
Suited up like scientists in a lab, contractors cleared piles of pigeon droppings from the fleche, or the smaller tower next to the spire.
As Restoration Committee chair Dr Ursula Stephens explained, it wasn’t the most pleasant task but was an essential part of the wider $8.5 million Cathedral project.
Heritage Roofing Group is restoring the fleche in situ. Dr Stephens said the timber had dried out and needed to be replaced.
“There is also a lot of lead involved and that had to be managed to the Australian safety standards,” she said.
“The pigeon droppings were acidic and had eaten through the fleche’s lead floor.”
The new fleche will include bird netting to keep the ‘pesky pigeons’ out.
Meantime, Restoration Partners is continuing internal work. Scaffolding was previously erected to allow high-level painting and rendering to be completed. Dr Stephens said this would come down in the next few weeks to enable lower work to be undertaken. Then, attention would shift to restoring the main parquetry flooring and painting and re-doing stencilling at the back of the altar.
Similarly, parishioners were interested in whether the altar rails would be replaced in their former position. Liturgical advice had changed around their positioning and Dr Stephens said while it was proposed not to replace them at the front of the altar, their final position could be determined when the main work was finished.
“We gave an explanation for any of the issues raised,” Dr Stephens said.
A ‘tradies’ barbecue will be held on August 11. The overall project is on schedule to finish by November, in time for the official re-opening.
Also in this area, workers have created easier access to the crypt, which houses the resting place of five former bishops. Previously, access was via the sacristy and a ‘trapdoor.’
The Cathedral has applied to Rome for minor basilica status. Easier access to this section is seen as crucial if it is to become a place of pilgrimage. From a practical standpoint, it allowed installation of a boiler for the Cathedral’s heating.
All wiring for the structure’s sound, audio-visual and lighting has been completed.
At the same time, pews previously moved offsite for storage are being sanded and stained.
The parish recently held a meeting of parishioners to give feedback on the restoration. Dr Stephens said 35 people attended and some expressed concern that side pews were being removed. They were shown designs of the new confessional and the narthex.