Mr. D. Benedict of the Benz Construction and Chemicals, 8/3, Arul Nagar I Street, Kannappa Nagar, Rathnapuri, Coimbatore-641-027 requested Dr. V. Jeyaraj, Director, Hepzibah Institute of Heritage Conservation, 21, V.O.C. Street, M.G.R. Nagar, Chennai-600 078 to visit the C.S.I. Brough Church, Erode and suggest the method of conserving and restoring the Church pillars. On his request, Dr. V. Jeyaraj visited the Church on 9th April 2012 and met Rev. I. Manohar Lal and Rev. Livingstone along with the Church Treasurer, Mr. A. Chandran and Board Member, Mr. S. Muthiah Jeyakumar.
History of the CSI Brough Church
Rev. Antony Watson Brough (1861-1934) came to Coimbatore from Australia in 1894 and served there for two years. He came to Erode in 1897 and constructed around twenty churches. It was planned to build the church in 1930 and was dedicated in 1933 by Rt. Rev. Azariah and was named as Brough Memorial Church. It is learnt that the foundation depth is equal to the height of the wall above the ground. The church was built with lime mortar ground with egg. The walls were plastered with ground lime mortar with egg. The stones were brought from Karur. The windows were made and brought from Karur. It is said that the Church was constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style in order to attract the Muslims in Erode. In is the front, there is one inscription in Tamil and Arabic as “Only God”.
Details on the Structure of the Church
It is made of stone pillars, arches, plinth stones in doors and windows, steps and brick and mortar. The size of the church is around 30X20 meters. The height is about 8 meters. It has got the main area and the side areas. The ceiling is made of concrete and the weathering course is with lime mortar and covered with roofing square tiles and pointed with cement. The walls are plastered and painted. The frontage has two minarets which are made of stone and brick structures.
Details of the Pillars
The stone pillars are around 2.5 meters and the height is 2.3 meters. The pillars and arches are made of granite stones carved out as square pedestals and hexagonal structure in the middle and with support structures in the top to support the arches. The pillars are constructed as pedestal, stem and the upper support head. It is fortunately not painted as the front three arches are painted brown. Fortunately the arches are not painted with enamel, but associated with lime and strainers. There are five arches with ten pillars, two in the altar and three in the entrance. Two pillars are embedded into the wall near the entrance; ten pillars in the middle are also supporting the arches.
Condition of the Structure of the Building
The building is 82 years old and it has got its deterioration on various aspects. The various defects noticed are ageing of the walls, seepage, leakage, capillary action and there by salt action both on the walls and pillars, attack by moss and lichen, peeling of synthetic painted wall, defects in the square tiles, loss of pointing materials, etc.
Suggestions for the Conservation/Restoration of the Church Structure
The conservation and restoration of the church can be grouped as follows:
- Conservation and Restoration of the Roof
- Conservation of Stone Structures of the Church
- Avoiding the percolation of water into the Church Building
- Carrying out Routines in the Maintenance of the Building
Conservation and Restoration of the Roof
The roof has three parts viz. Main Terrace, side terrace (right) and side terrace (left). The middle terrace is very high and the side terraces are around 8 feet lower than the main terrace. It is learnt that the weathering course was laid about ten years back. But around 35 terracotta tiles had been severely damaged. Similarly both the side terraces have around 30 tiles each side found broken and have given way to the ingress of water.
Rain Water Drains
There is another defect in the withdrawing drain holes along all the parapet walls in the roof. Because of too many holes found in the parapet walls all around, the whole parapet walls down from the holes have got drenched and it has made the walls wet through seepage and it has encouraged the growth of moss and lichen, which is visible through the black colour.
In order to reduce the intake of water in to the church building, a French canal all around the church building can be made to a depth of 3 feet and covered with slabs. The canal should be connected to a motor and the motor pump set may be run and the water may be drained whenever necessary.
Relaying of the Weathering Course
As there are a large number of damaged weathering course tiles, it is not possible to replace only the damaged ones. Even if we replace only the damaged ones, it will be necessary to redo the work within a year. Therefore, it is imperative to remove the tails, the old weathering course till the concrete layer and relaying the weathering course, treating with synthetic bonds to stop water ingress, laying the tiles and pointing with the leak proofing materials as pointing and give a patty along the wall and roof joints so that the water will be drained to drain pipes connected instead of the holes in the parapet walls. This will avoid the percolation of water into the wall just below the holes found along the parapet walls.
Conservation and Restoration of the Stone Pillars
The stone pillars are having square granite pedestals over which a hexagonal granite pillar of six feet tall is fixed and over which a granite stone support is kept. The problem is that to a height of about six feet from the Cudappah black limestone floor there is powdering of the stone and flaking of stone are noticed.
The powdering of granite stone pillars is due to capillary action. When the water from the ground or due to seepage from the roof is taken in to the stone along with the soluble salts and drying of water takes place, the crystallization of salts needs more volume and when the volume for the crystallization is not available, the surface of the stone gets crumpled as the pores on the stone do not have strength to withhold the pressure formed by the crystallization of the salt. When this process is repeated as an annual feature, then the powdering continues and the stone pillars are getting deteriorated.
This can be conserved and restored by the following actions:
- Removal of Salts
- Consolidation of Week Stone Pillars
- Restoration of the Stone Pillars
- Protective Coating to the Pillars
Removal of Salts by Paper Pulp Poulticing
Poulticing is nothing but removing the adherent materials from a solid surface with the help of neutral pulp soaked in distilled water and applying on the surface of the stone in the affected areas. Areas which are affected by salt action may be jetted with distilled water. The paper pulp may be purchased paper mills and made neutral by application of chemical(s). Alternatively the paper pulp may be prepared by soaking blotting papers in distilled water and breaking the paper into pulp and the water is squeezed out in such a way that the pulp will be sticking to the wall when applied with a little pressure and the distilled water is absorbed by the stone and the salts get dissolved in the water. In a day or two, the paper pulp gets dried. Now the paper pulp absorbs the salt solution from the stone and dried up subsequently. The dried paper pulp is then taken out and soaked in water and the dissolved salt is dissolved out and squeezed out. The paper pulp is again soaked in distilled water and applied again on the affected stone pillars. This procedure is repeated till there is no dissolved sodium chloride. The washings may be tested for the presence of chloride. If here is no chloride I the washings it is confirmed that all the soluble salts are removed from the stone pillars.
After the removal of the soluble salts from the stone pillars, the fragile stone parts can be consolidated by the application of silane in organic solvents. The whole pillars may be then coated with Paraloid B72 which will seal of all the entry of moisture from within the church. After modeling the surface may be spread with coarse grains of the same stone from Karur to have a similar look of the original stone.
Removal of Moss and Lichen from the Walls
The moss and lichen from the walls and other areas will be removed by the application of 5% solution of ammonia and washed.
Removal of Colour Coating on Stone Arches
The yellow coloured coatings from the frontage of the church may be removed by water jetting, followed by applying of 5% solution of acetic acid (LR) and brushed with a tooth brush and washed with water followed by the application of ammonia and water subsequently. Thus the brown colour may be removed from the stone pillars and arches. The estimate is not included in the report as the pillars are in good condition.
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