St. Columb’s Cathedral, L’Derry

Dominating the skyline on all approaches to the City of Londonderry is Saint Columb’s Cathedral, which has stood on its prominent site inside the famous Walls of Derry since 1633. Historically and architecturally, this is the most important building in Londonderry and the North West of Ireland.

Thanks to a painstaking conservation and restoration project undertaken by Woodvale Construction and completed in June 2011, this Grade A Listed Building is now the “jewel in Derry’s crown”.

We are extremely proud that St. Columb’s Cathedral was awarded the 2011 Construction Excellence Award for Restoration.

The complex restoration process involved extensive stone repair and replacement works, removal of pointing and cement render, and the re-pointing of the stonework to the entire elevations using lime mortar.

Internally, the extensive process of restoration included for the restoration of the leaded stain glass windows, replacement and remedial works to the internal doors, renewal and remedial works to the internal plaster and finishes, the sealing of stonework, internal decoration, the restoration of the floor tiling, the cleaning of existing timber roof trusses and ceiling panelling and the renewal of both mechanical and electrical services.

Key Features:

  • St. Columb’s Cathedral is the City of Londonderry’s oldest surviving building, having been completed in 1633
  • It was the first post-reformation cathedral to be built in the British Isle
  • Woodvale had to battle against the years of ruin not to mention the wide range of patch and mend jobs that had been carried out over the Cathedral’s 378 year history. One example of this was the wood, which had 200 years of grime on it. The same could be said for the pillars and arches within the main body of the Cathedral
  • A fundamental challenge involved the essential requirement that the building would remain open for both worship and visiting purposes for the duration of the work
  • 140,000 visitors passed through the Cathedral during the restoration work
  • Due to Woodvale’s unwavering approach to Health & Safety, there was no reportable incidents or accidents recorded during the restoration work
  • Woodvale’s vast experience in the conservation of historic buildings facilitated the preservation of 98% of the original windows, 90% of the original stonework, 90% of the original floor tiles and 100% of the original interior woodwork
  • Woodvale utilised transparent debris netting which enabled the public to see “on-site” how restorers, stone masons and architects worked collaboratively to return this ‘monument’ to its former glory
  • While the intention was to retain the past, we also incorporated the most modern LED lighting system, heating and audio-visual equipment which was cleverly integrated into the old fashioned surroundings

Karl Pedersen, Mullarkey Pedersen Architects, stated: “If ever a project was to demonstrate the huge project benefits to be gained from a collaborative working relationship, particularly on a restoration project, St. Columb’s Cathedral is the project to cite. Every single cm2 of the building face has been appraised, considered and acted upon in a collaborative manner which, in my opinion, has been a key driving factor in the success of the scheme. The standard of finish achieved by Woodvale Construction and their team has been first class.”

The craftmanship of this restoration project was acknowledged by the Construction Industry as the scheme was awarded

2011 CEF + Specify Restoration Award

2012 RICS Restoration Award 

St Columb’s Cathedral was also Shortlisted for the UK RICS Awards 2012


Woodvale St Columb’s Cathedral, Derry from Woodvale Construction on Vimeo.

Key Project Information
Architect Mullarkey Pedersen Architects
Value £2.9m
Duration 78 weeks
Extra Information
Location The Cathedral Church of Saint Columb Select Vestry
Sectors Restoration
I could not thank Woodvale Construction sufficiently for their brilliant work and for their respectful, personal, friendly, helpful and accommodating manner with which they carried it out. They simply could not have been more understanding, more helpful, more flexible, always going not only the second mile, but the twenty-second mile
The Very Reverend William W Morton, Dean of Derry & Rector of Templemore