Roofers from Epping-based Hellingham and Sons replace more than 15,000 slates for Lopping Hall restoration

AFTER braving months of high winds and heavy rain, roofers are putting the finishing touches to the crowning glory of a Victorian hall.

Workers from Hellingham and Sons, an Epping-based family firm, began the painstaking job of restoring the roof of Lopping Hall in May.

Company owner Terry Lethbridge, 46, said his team – which includes sons James, 24, and Lewis, 21 – had risen to the challenge despite working through the wettest summer in 100 years.

“We are a family business in Epping who specialise in listed buildings. It’s quite a prestigious job for us,” said Mr Lethbridge, of Silverbirch Avenue, Epping.

“We did the job through horrendous weather – right through the worst summer in the records.

“It was quite bad conditions but we knew that we didn’t want to let people down and we had our reputation to think about as well.”

After being awarded the contract in May, Mr Lethbridge and his staff faced the task of finding more than 15,000 identical slates to replace the originals – which were in too poor a condition to be reused.

Four tonnes of lead were also required for the job.

“It was one of the most challenging jobs we’ve ever had,” said Mr Lethbridge.

“The slates we took off were over 100 years old and they weren’t good enough to go back.

“So we virtually had to find exactly the same slate size and condition to match the original slates.”

Mr Lethbridge’s hunt took him to Aldershot barracks in Hampshire, from where 60 per cent of the new slates have been sourced.

“They’re from a Government building, so they’re nice and strong,” added Mr Lethbridge. “We certainly didn’t want any water to get in.”

He gave his thanks to architect Geoff Clarke and suppliers RTS Roofing Supplies in Walthamstow and Epping Reclaim, in North Weald.

The roof restoration is part of a make-over, which will also see a fresh coating of gold leaf applied to the community hall’s weather vane.