St. Columba’s is a congregation of the Church of Scotland in England centrally located in London’s Knightsbridge. The original church building of 1884 was destroyed by the German Luftwaffe on the night of 10 May 1941. It was replaced on the same site in the 1950s by a striking contemporary design by the architect of Guildford Cathedral, Sir Edward Maufe. The church is named after St. Columba, the great Ulster saint.
Kenyon were engaged to carry out extensive external restoration work to this unique ecclesiastical building. Due to its central London location the stone facade was in need of comprehensive cleaning. Kenyon worked with specialist stone cleaning suppliers to identify suitable cleaning products. Stonemasons restored and, in some areas, replaced the existing stonework. Great care was taken to ensure that the appearance of the new stonework accurately matched the appearance of the existing fabric.
Craftsmen experienced in the reproduction of stained glass windows were employed to replace the existing stained glass – see photo insert, opposite. The erection of scaffolding was complicated by the inset nature of the building’s steeple. A complex and intricate scaffolding structure was developed that successfully addressed the problem.
The church remained in use throughout the contract period, necessitating a flexible and sympathetic approach to the needs of worshippers and visitors. Funerals and other ceremonies frequently took place during working hours and operations naturally had to be suspended at these times.