St John the Baptist Church, Rochdale - Kemper System Ltd

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St John the Baptist Church, Rochdale


Kemperol V210M

Size (M2)



Castle Contractors NW

Winner LRWA Awards Highly Commended 2024
Liquid Roofing Project of the Year under 1000 sq. m

Kemper System has successfully completed a comprehensive roof refurbishment of the Grade II listed St. John the Baptist RC Church in Rochdale.  

The iconic landmark, known for its domed roof sections and historic mosaic artwork, required urgent attention due to persistent leaks caused by poorly installed existing roof materials. 

The apse and sanctuary inside the church is completely covered in a spectacular mosaic artwork by Eric Newton of Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd, Blackburn. The mosaic, on the theme of Eternal Life, was completed in 1933. The water ingress was threatening the integrity of this historical and iconic artwork.  

St. John the Baptist RC Church, with its unique architectural features, was a complex project and posed several challenges for the architect and roofing contractors. The poorly installed existing roof materials resulted in water ingress issues, requiring a phased refurbishment plan. 

Kemper System’s Kempertherm Tapered Insulation solution addressed the challenges in the first phase, rectifying issues with the west transept roof areas. For the east transept roofs, cut-to-falls and ‘lamella’ insulation boards were utilised in conjunction with Kemperol V210M for effective waterproofing. The final phase involved the refurbishment of the large central dome roof, where Kemperol 1K-PUR was applied after necessary repairs and priming. 

Challenges Overcome 

The height of the building was a vital factor to consider during product specification for Kendal-based, Crosby Granger Architects. Large expanses of sheet material would not have been suitable or adhered to health and safety protocol because of the height of the church.  

Meticulous planning for the logistics and access of the building was also required, as the church is located in a busy area of Rochdale with a train and tram station opposite, and the adjacent pedestrian walkways still in use.  

The presence of the historic mosaic roof design inside the domed roof of the church, which was experiencing severe water ingress, meant that a quick and easy application of a robust and durable waterproofing solution was required.  

Specification Considerations 

Crosby Granger Architects undertook a detailed high-access examination of the dome and clerestory, and conducted a more holistic condition survey of the entire building prior to specification. 

Speaking of the specification process, Andrew Bodenham from Crosby Granger Architects, said: “We have used Kemper System for projects in the past and know the company’s range of waterproofing solutions are versatile and durable for the requirements of this complex and time-sensitive project. 

“Preserving the historic piece of mosaic art within the main dome roof area was of upmost importance, and we worked collaboratively with the team at Kemper System to develop a suitable solution for the refurbishment of this area, as well as the flat roof sections.” 

The project was completed with up and over scaffolding over the domed area to ensure effective waterproofing of the roof, with contractors also repointing the brick work. 

Continued Andrew: “We received superb support, technical assistance and communication from the team at Kemper System from day one, right up until post-installation and handover. The quick and easy application meant contractors were able to make the roof waterproof in a matter of days, which allowed them to continue the necessary concrete repairs to the rest of the building. It also limited additional costs for the building owners as the amount of scaffolding required for this project was vast – due to the size and height of the building. The amount of time and equipment was reduced, compared to if an alternative roofing solution was installed.”  

Additional Information: (optional) Neil Atherton from Castle Contractors also provided a testimonial of the works completed. He said: “This was a particularly challenging installation due to the shape of the main dome. Scaffolding access presented logistical challenges and so the waterproofing had to be installed in three stages. The Kemper System liquid waterproofing was poured from the top and spread out evenly to a width of 700mm wide. To execute this properly, a ladder was secured by timber to the scaffolding deck so it could be trafficked by one of our operative to wet put, and remove any trapped air pockets.  

“This process continued until the waterproofing system had been installed on the entire dome. This was such a difficult installation but made easier thanks to the nature of cold-applied liquid waterproofing. No other waterproofing system would have worked, we simply wouldn’t have been able to get it to site and installed.”  

The project received exceptional support and technical assistance from Kemper System throughout, ensuring a smooth application process. The quick and easy application of Kemperol solutions allowed for efficient waterproofing, minimising the need for extensive scaffolding and reducing costs for the building owners. 

St. John the Baptist RC Church roof refurbishment stands as a testament to Kemper System’s expertise in providing effective, versatile, and durable liquid applied waterproofing solutions for complex and historically significant structures. The project showcases a successful collaboration between Kemper System and Crosby Granger Architects, ensuring the ongoing preservation of this architectural gem in Rochdale.