Community project to replace church roof leads to discovery of Second World War shrapnel

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 October 2018

Church vicar Father David Sherratt with the two roofers. Picture: Michael Macey

Church vicar Father David Sherratt with the two roofers. Picture: Michael Macey


Roofers who were dismantling part of a Bexley church discovered hidden Second World War shrapnel while working on the 114-year-old roof.

The shrapnel discovered in the church.Picture: Michael MaceyThe shrapnel discovered in the church.Picture: Michael Macey

St Michael and All Angels Church in Abbey Wood originally served as a joint church and hall until the parish church opened in 1908.

The hall has since served a wide variety of community groups, including the 13th Woolwich Scout group, St Michael’s social club, the Abbey Wood Women’s Institute and many more.

The roof is being completely renewed as part of a project funded by Biffa Award, a fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through projects across the UK.

Whilst removing parts of the old roof, workers became aware that slates in the roof were not consistent, leading them to suspect that there had been some bomb damage during the war.

Once they had removed slates from the area, they found a piece of shrapnel embedded in the timbers.

The roofing work has also been phased to fit in with the migrating pattern of swifts, which nest under the eaves each summer after flying in from Africa each May.

They leave in late August on their return journey, and roofing work started two weeks after their departure.

Speaking about the restoration work on the church, Gillian French, Biffa Award head of grants, said: “We are thrilled that this historic church hall will continue to provide a space for community groups in the years to come.

“On top of that, the new roof is going to be brilliant for people and swifts!

“The new church hall roof will keep the community warm and dry all year round while the eaves will provide a home for the swifts over the summer months.”

Karen White, assistant group scout leader of the 13th Woolwich, said: “Our Scout Group has met at the hall for over 100 years, and throughout those years many children from the parish and wider community have benefitted from the Scouting we offer.

“The new roof is a vital step forward to enable us to continue this work.”

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