A New Surveyor for St Pauls Cathedral

17:56 Monday 19th September 2011
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PETER SWAN: St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren, has watched over the City of London for the past 300 years. It’s iconic dome makes it one of the most instantly recognisable buildings in Britain. Oliver Caroe, a Cambridge-based architect, has been appointed to watch over and help preserve the structure over the coming years. I’m pleased to say he joins us now. Evening to you Oliver.
OLIVER CAROE: Good evening.
PETER SWAN: Now your job title is Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral. So what exactly does that mean you’re going to be doing?
OLIVER CAROE: I think the best word is to say I’m going to be a steward for this building. I’ve been thinking about this very hard. It’s something partly about caring, something about doing, and making this incredible building accessible to the public, who come there, 1.5 million people a year. And it’s something about watching over something that is precious to the nation and the world. I can’t help but think that there are an awful lot of people who will have their eyes on me as well.
PETER SWAN: Yes. So on a practical level, does that mean, say, if some tiles get blown off the roof, or a window needs fixing, you have to come up with a plan of how best to do it?
OLIVER CAROE: Well I’m very lucky there’s a Clerk of Works at St Paul’s. And, you wouldn’t believe it, a team of nearly 30 people who are constantly working on the cathedral. So those sorts of things get dealt with pretty swiftly, and I just need to make sure it’s happened. Things that I’ll be doing, one thing that I’m very much looking forward to is what’s called a quinquennial inspection. Every five years we have to go over the whole cathedral and report on its health. It’s a bit like going to the doctor and having a thorough health check. And that will include getting to every corner. And someone has pointed out to me, and I’m not sure if this person is a friend or foe, but that even means going inside the gold sphere that’s 365 feet off the ground, on top of the cathedral, and checking for rust. So that’s going to be an adventure.
PETER SWAN: So how did this appointment come about?
OLIVER CAROE: The cathedral has to have a surveyor, and there have been continuous lines of surveyors since Christopher Wren finished the building. Incidentally he finished, or he was told by Parliament that it was finished, on 26th December 300 years ago exactly this year. So it’s an interesting time to take over. And I applied. The job was advertised, and I though, well, that would be interesting.
PETER SWAN: Well Oliver, it sounds like an absolutely tremendous honour. Best of luck with it all. It also sounds like a very big job indeed.
OLIVER CAROE: It will be. It will be very exciting indeed. Thank you.
PETER SWAN: No problem. Thanks for joining us on the show.

Caroe Architecture