Keymer Tiles answers St Thomas’ prayers

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Keymer Tiles, the UK’s oldest manufacturer of handmade clay roof tiles, has helped to resurrect the roof of an Essex church by providing 70,000 tiles to complete a much needed, long term renovation project.

St Thomas of Canterbury Church in Brentwood was in desperate need of a quality roofing product for its renovation – one that would last for many years to come and achieve a traditional and professional look.

Architects Fergusons of Chelmsford specified Keymer’s hand crafted Shire tiles made exclusively from Wealden Clay.

Taking several years to complete, between 2002 and 2013, it was vital for the success of the project that a dependable product was used to achieve tile uniformity over all the separate roofs and across the years of renovation.

Re-roofing of the chancel and organ chamber was followed two years later with the nave roof being re-tiled, and three years after that, the north aisle.

The lady chapel and vestry stairs and porch were next in line in 2008 and the project finally came to a close in 2013 with the re-tiling of the south aisle roof.

Managing director of Keymer Tiles, Neil Tobin, said: “Because Keymer Tiles have been made in the same traditional way using clay from the same local pits since 1588, they could be specified with confidence by the architect, trusting that they would remain consistent throughout the long term project.”

The original roof tiles bore the inscription ‘St.T’ in the upstand of the ridge, so in order to replicate this in the new roof, some of the original tiles were re-used.

These originals, incorporated with Keymer’s new tiles, provided a seamless finish, the old and the new tiles perfectly complementing each other.

Keymer Tiles, the oldest surviving industry in Burgess Hill, is moving from its site off Nye Road because it has run out of usable clay and has been sold for housing.

Vacant possession must be given by March 31, 2015 and to accommodate this, production must cease in August 2014.

Mr Tobin told the Middy just before Christmas: “Hopefully, this does not mean the end of Keymer Tiles.

“We are currently in negotiations with regard to moving some of the manufacturing to another site but these are still at an early stage,” he confirmed.