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Home Pitched Roofing St Joseph’s School roof returns to its former glory
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St Joseph’s School roof returns to its former glory

by Matt Downs

BMI Redland tiles have been used to help rebuild the roof of a primary school in Willesden after it was destroyed by fire.

Generations of school children have attended St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, so when a fire destroyed its roof, it was vital to select the right roof tiles for the re-build. The project needed tiles that matched the building’s Edwardian predecessors.

Architect Wilby & Burnett selected BMI Redland’s Rosemary Clay Classic tiles which, like the school, has a long and distinguished history.

Wilby & Burnett worked with the main contractor Associated Installations, and W O’Dwyer, to complete the project for the Diocese of Westminster,

The roof at St Joseph’s contains several turrets, numerous dormer windows and a decorative, lead-clad cupola at its centre, making the rebuild a complex one.
Architect Bob Ecclestone of Wilby & Burnett says: “It was noticed from record drawings that the building was not constructed entirely squarely, and that the existing roof pitches varied in different locations. The roof had to be set out to relate to the existing gables, which had to be retained.”

A number of parts of the project required additional work to bring the roof in line with current standards. Insulation was added to help meet modern energy efficiency Part L standards, and the new roof frame had to be steel rather than timber to meet modern structural design codes.

The whole roof was covered in a protective scaffolding, which slid open to allow materials to be craned in at certain times of the day. Most of the 76,000 tiles and many kilograms of lead came to the roof in small batches, brought in by means of a goods hoist.

The nature of this roof also required roofers with plenty of experience and traditional roofing skills. “We chose roofers we had worked with before, who were experienced and produced good-quality work,” says William O’Dwyer of contractor W O’Dwyer, who delivered the £1.3m structural repair project, employing Martin UK Roofing Systems to carry out the tiling and lead work. “On a job like this, you don’t necessarily select on price, you need someone who you know will deliver a good end-product.”

BMI Redland’s range of Rosemary plain clay tiles come in a range of eight weathered, brindled and single colours, which mellow naturally over time. Rosemary Clay Classic in Red was selected as the best match for this project, providing the required aesthetics and a quality hand-crafted clay roof with the reliability of modern machine-made techniques.

Having re-located to temporary buildings after the fire, the children and teachers returned to their renewed school in September 2018. At the end of 2018, it was listed as the second-best state primary school in the country in the Sunday Times School Guide 2019.

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