In recent years the ceramic tiled floors of the aisles of St Michael’s church had become increasingly uneven, with the tiles tipping and cracking and creating a safety hazard. Investigation found that the sub-floor foundation was disintegrating and that the whole floor needed to be replaced. Also the large nave altar space had been paved with concrete slabs in a 1970s re-ordering; not only were these unsightly but rising damp penetrated the joints in wet weather and the slabs were heavily water-stained.
A project was drawn up to excavate up to 400mm to remove the whole of the existing floor, and to construct a sound new foundation formed by a Limecrete slab over an insulation layer of foamed glass. The new floor surface was to be of 600x600mm fossil limestone tiles laid on a diagonal pattern to create a sense of light and space.
The project was planned to begin in April, for completion by October. However, due to pandemic restrictions the contractor, KPK Builders, was unable to begin until mid-June with a reduced workforce. As the church was anyway closed, it was an ideal opportunity to carry out the work. It was finally completed mid-December when over 100 visitors came to a socially distanced Open Church day to see the new floor. As one visitor remarked, “The first impressions when entering the door of St. Michael’s now is how very light & airy & modern it looks & it certainly now has that WOW factor. It should certainly last for very many generations to come & Helston now has a beautiful Church to be proud of.”
We are grateful for the support of the Cornwall Historic Churches Trust, which helped us also to obtain substantial contributions from other organisations including the National Lottery Heritage Fund.