Closed Sheffield church mounts appeal to pay for £120,000 ceiling repairs

Verger Steve Dugdale inside St John's Church, Ranmoor. Picture: Steve Ellis
Verger Steve Dugdale inside St John's Church, Ranmoor. Picture: Steve Ellis

A Sheffield church forced to close after part of its ceiling fell down has launched an appeal to raise more than £95,000 to pay for extensive repairs.

St John's, in Ranmoor - one of the city's biggest churches - had to shut last October after a piece of the Grade II* listed building's 130-year-old painted ceiling broke off.

Scaffolding has been put up throughout, evening prayer and communion have been moved to the nearby Ranmoor Parish Centre, and full choral services and musical recitals have been affected too.

Work on the repairs has already begun. Of the building's 350 ceiling panels, there are believed to be at least 82 in need of fixing or replacement, with the total cost estimated at £120,000.

A Listed Places of Worship payment - effectively a VAT refund of £20,000 - has been approved by the Government, and £3,500 has been secured from other sources, leaving another £96,500 to find.

Churchwarden Brian Parfett said a call for donations was needed as an inspection had uncovered even bigger problems.

"Unfortunately, while surveying the issues that contributed to the failure of the ceiling panels, our architect has also identified that the roof may need to be replaced," he said.

Such a scheme could attract grant funding, it is understood, 'although St John's would probably be expected to make a contribution towards the overall costs'.

"This all means that once we have paid to repair the ceiling we then need to rebuild, if possible, our cash reserves so we have a good starting point to fund a new build and roof renewal. This would be our planned future project."

Dipping into the church's reserves would also affect its ability to pay for general maintenance, as well as delaying a wider revamp over the next five years including the introduction of disabled toilets, a meeting room and the refurbishment of the vestries.

To repair one ceiling panel will cost around £450, while the bill to totally replace a panel - a task carried out by expert plasterers with a traditional mix of horse hair and lime - comes to £2,250. A donation of £3,000 covers scaffold hire for a month, and £200 pays for St John's to rent a skip.

Donations have already started coming in, Brian said. "Any level of gift would be gladly received and with great thanks."

There are several ways to give money. Visit https://mydonate.bt.com/charities, go to the 'donate to charity' tab and type 'Ranmoor' in the search box; send a cheque made payable to St John's Church, Ranmoor, with a note that the donation is for the ceiling appeal; or make a payment via BACS directly to the church's bank account - CAF Bank, sort code 40-52-40, account number 00089049. Anyone using the BACS method should email Sandie Parfett on finance@stjohnsranmoor.org.uk, highlighting that the gift is for the appeal.

The present Anglican church dates from 1888 and is the second to be built on the site off Ranmoor Park Road. The original was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1887, leaving just the 200ft tower and spire, the tallest of its kind in Sheffield.