'Exemplary' Cathedral earns Getty Foundation grant

£140,000 windfall for restoration work

The "architectural significance" of Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral has received "international recognition" in the form of a £140,000 grant from the Getty Foundation to fund conservation and repair works.

These were the words of Canon Anthony O'Brien, the cathedral dean, in response to the news of the announcement of the grant, which will allow for a programme of research and conservation centred on the so-called 'crown of glass', the distinctive lantern of Sir Frederick Gibberd's Grade II-listed cathedral, which was consecrated in 1967.

Canon O'Brien said: "On behalf of the Metropolitan Cathedral we are very grateful and honoured to receive this grant from the Getty Foundation. Not only will this provide valuable financial assistance for research into the best methods of conserving 'dalle de verre' glass that forms such an important part of the architectural design of our cathedral but our research and trials will also be of assistance to other buildings with similar problems as ours.

"This award gives international recognition to the architectural significance of our Cathedral as one of the exemplary buildings of the 20th century."

The lantern is highly significant as a piece of pioneering 20th-century design which utilised an innovative mix of stained glass fragments supported by epoxy resin, known as 'dalle de verre'. It was designed and made by artists John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens, who also collaborated on the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral. For the restoration work, it is vital to preserve as much existing material as technically possible.

Matt Dyer from Purcell, the architects leading the project, said: "The Getty Foundation is such a renowned organisation and to be awarded this grant as part of their Keeping it Modern scheme is an honour. Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is an exemplar building demonstrating innovative and unique 20th-century architecture, and the preservation of the building and the lantern is of the highest importance. I look forward to implementing the money from the grant to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy and appreciate the building as we do."

The project team has already undertaken extensive analysis and testing to understand the condition and stability of the glass and resin. Their next steps will be to introduce environmental and water monitoring systems, to upgrade all of the maintenance access to facilitate internal inspections and to prepare sample panels for laboratory testing.

Purcell's heritage experts have also produced a conservation statement for the funding application and are planning to produce a conservation management plan for the whole site. The programme of investigation and testing will commence shortly, with trial repairs to be undertaken in the next 12 months.