SINGAPORE - St Andrew's Cathedral will be receiving a grant of more than $1 million from the National Monuments Fund to help in the building's upcoming restoration and maintenance plans.
The cathedral is one of 15 national monuments set to receive a total of $2.61 million from the National Monuments Fund this year (2019).
The cathedral is the only first-time recipient in the group and will also be receiving the largest amount. Other recipients this year include the Chesed-El Synagogue, Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Thian Hock Keng temple.
The National Monuments Fund is a co-funding grant administered by the National Heritage Board’s Preservation of Sites and Monuments division. First introduced in 2008, the fund aims to assist eligible monument owners in the restoration and maintenance of Singapore’s built heritage.
To be eligible for the fund, a national monument must fulfil three criteria: they must be owned and managed by a non-profit or religious organisation; the organisation should have the ability to finance the restoration works before applying for the contribution from the fund; and the national monument should be accessible to the public.
Restoration works at St Andrew’s Cathedral is likely to start next year (2020). It is the first major refurbishment for the English neo-gothic cathedral and will cost an estimated $6 million.
The cathedral had previously carried out some works including upgrading its plumbing system, cleaning and tuning the cathedral bells, and restoring its stained glass windows.
The church, which was built in 1861 and gazetted as a national monument in 1973, is currently raising funds and estimates that the restoration works will take about two to three years. Church services and operations will continue during the refurbishment.
The National Monuments Fund will provide the cathedral with $977,000 for restoration works and about $51,000 for maintenance works.
Restoration works will include the removal of plaster as well as repainting of the entire cathedral, refurbishment of the timber flooring in the bell tower and termite control. The pews, stalls, doors and windows will also be restored.
Speaking on Tuesday (Sept 10) about the importance of the fund, Director of the Preservation of Sites and Monuments division Jean Wee, said: “Our national monuments are important symbols of our past, protected today by the community, and preserved for future generations through means such as the National Monuments Fund.”
She added that 14 of the 15 recipients this year are repeat applicants.
“This is an indication that earlier restoration has spurred them to continue and widen preservation efforts on site,” she said.
The Al-Abrar Mosque had received grants from the National Monuments Fund every year for the last three years.
Mr Muhammad Raj Umar Nasser, a representative of the mosque, said the funds helped pay for roof restoration works and pest control in the past.
“The partnership with the National Heritage Board really helped us as we did not have to fork out the entire sum on our own. The fund helped cover our maintenance and structural needs and allowed us to concentrate on other aspects, like worship,” he said, adding that the mosque is one of the 15 recipients this year as well.
Chairman of the restoration works committee for St Andrew’s Cathedral Lee Chi Kuan said the church had been planning for the refurbishment for the last one and a half years.
“We have been considering it for some time now, and the grant from National Monuments Fund will help us defray a substantial part of this cost,” he said.
“Our building needs to be kept in a good state of repair as a witness to our stewardship and responsibility. We are heirs to the past, stewards of the present and trustees for the future.”