Temporary cathedral in Manchester during installation of 'green' underfloor heating

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11th March 2013

Manchester Cathedral will be the first cathedral in England to be heated by ground source heat pumps.  Contractors will move in just after Easter to install a new green heating scheme under the floor of the nave. The new ground source heat pumps will use natural energy stored in the earth to heat and cool the cathedral, making it one of the greenest in the UK. Activities that usually take place in the nave area of the Cathedral will transfer to a wooden ‘Cathedral on the Street’ which is being specially constructed on the west front of the Cathedral. Some services will transfer to St Ann’s Church and other nearby churches in the diocese.

The current under-floor heating system dates from the post-war rebuilding of the 1950s. In the last 5 years the Cathedral floor has been flooded three times by broken heating pipes and the efficiency of the heating has been poor.

The Very Reverend Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester said “Levels of heat are very important for both visitors and worshippers alike. The recent extremely cold winters have embarrassed the Cathedral as temperatures were unacceptably low. We’re incredibly pleased that we can carry out this work in a sustainable and responsible way, ensuring the Cathedral is fit for future”.

The new ground source heat pumps which will provide the Cathedral with 80% of its heat requirement, making Manchester Cathedral one of the greenest cathedrals in the UK. There will be gas boilers to top up the heating when it is exceptionally cold. The project necessitates the replacement of all the flooring to the Nave, Quire aisles and Regimental, Fraser and Lady Chapels.  The new floor finish will be Burlington limestone laid on a lime screed containing the heating pipes which in turn is laid on insulation and a new concrete slab. The woodblock finishes to the Regimental and Fraser chapels will be lifted and re-laid.

Work to erect the temporary structure – ‘the Cathedral on the Street’ –  on Victoria Street is well underway. The Cathedral’s Sunday morning services will be held here, together with other major services and events.  The work on the heating and floor is due to be completed in November, allowing the Cathedral congregations to return to the Cathedral for Advent and Christmas.