Asbestos needs dealing with – it’s something we’ve learned (many of us to our cost) over the past 30 years or so. Back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries asbestos was deemed the ideal material for use in construction projects because of its fire retardant properties. It is also inexpensive and easy to use and has a high level of electrical resistance.
However, for all of its advantages, asbestos also brings with it a whole range of problems. Pliny the Younger noticed that slaves who worked with the asbestos mineral became sick back in the 1st Century AD! The medical profession identified asbestos as a health risk as far back as the late 1920’s – the first documented death connected to asbestos was in 1906. Workers’ compensation cases were filed and resolved in utter secrecy, allowing the use of asbestos is the construction (and other) industries to continue unchecked.
This carried on until the 1970’s when the United States saw a deluge of litigation cases which culminated in the 1980’s. Asbestos and the health risks involved with asbestos use became big news and it was no longer possible to keep the adverse effects of this substance hidden from the general public. This led to the outright ban of blue and brown asbestos in the UK in 1985 and the import, sale and second hand reuse of white asbestos was banned in 1999. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 came into force in Britain with a raft of other asbestos related pieces of legislation and there are now strict rules in place to prevent exposure to asbestos.
We recently revealed that the Queen of England is not exempt when it comes to asbestos – Betty Windsor is having to shell out millions of pounds over the next twenty years or so to get asbestos removed from Buckingham Palace. Star-groves, an East End 19th Century gothic mansion is a Grade 2 listed property that needs to have asbestos removed. Situated on the Berkshire/Hampshire border, this famous property has been owned by Mick Jagger, Frank Williams and the King of Sweden. It’s now been snapped up by a mystery buyer who has plans to install a renewable energy plant, a boathouse and a pool house.
Not to be outdone by Her Maj and others, it now looks as if God is getting in on the asbestos act. Recent news reports disclosed that Guildford Cathedral needs urgent repairs, including the removal and replacement of crumbling plaster that contains asbestos in its vaults. The cathedral was designed by Sir Edward Maufe and the foundation stone was laid in 1936 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Cosmo Gordon Lang.
However, the construction of the cathedral was interrupted by the Second World War and it was not consecrated until 1961. This holy house needs about £7 million worth of repair work done and is bidding for lottery money to help with the repair bill.
The cathedral will need to raise £1.3 million itself by August to be eligible for lottery funding and this has led to requests for donations on the cathedral’s webpage. The dean of the cathedral has started the ball rolling with a plan to undertake a daredevil sponsored abseil down the 160 ft high tower of this Grade 2 listed building. Whether or not God will cough up and sponsor this daring lady remains to be seen.