Switch to solar

Solar panels on the Christ Church roof

Christ Church switched to solar power at the end of October 2018 after a generous legacy allowed us to install panels on the roof of our building

The idea of installing solar panels on our roof is as old as the building, but it took 10 years to make it a reality. Our involvement with Footsteps: Faiths for a Low Carbon Future acted as a spur, but it was only when a legacy provided the funds to take this step that we could start discussions with possible contractors.

Scaffolding along one side of the building

October 2018: The scaffolding goes up to start the installation work

We ran into a technical problem with the discovery that our metal roof tiles are not compatible with most installation methods. Added to all the initial feasibility work it took some 2 years from the start of the project before Cutter Solar were able to carry out the work to turn our roof into a power station.

Close-up of one of the panels

Bright, shining and soaking up the sun

Tom Cutter with the two inverters

Tom Cutter demonstrates the system: these are the inverters that turn the current from the panels into AC at mains voltage

Close-up of the power display

Power on! On a bright autumn morning we’re generating over 10 kilowatts (lowest of the large digits). The panels are rated for 20kW

The work is not quite finished yet. Still to come: a battery to store electricity generated during the daytime for use in the evening, and a remote display panel to go in the entrance hall.

One of our roof-top crosses reflected in the panels, with the Moon behind in the sky

A change to the Selly Park skyline

A lasting legacy

Herrick Lucas was a man of surprises. We only got to know him in the last few years of his life when he started coming regularly to our events, especially Coffee Mates and Sunday morning services. He didn’t always find it easy to show it, but there is no doubt that he was grateful for the friendship he found at Christ Church, especially as he had no living relatives.

It was only when you got to know him that stories of Herrick’s former life began to emerge. For many years he lived and worked in the USA, especially in Las Vegas, and while there he became friends with some of the leading singers of the day. Later in life he was consulted by radio stations for his expertise in music of the era. He told us of road trips he made across North America, and he had the photos to prove it.

When he died, Herrick had another surprise for us. He left his house to a much-valued local charity and also made a substantial legacy to Christ Church. The whole congregation was asked to suggest how we could use it in a way that would bring lasting benefits and that was in keeping with his interests.

Photo montage of a road trip from Canada to Las Vegas

On the road with Herrick! The photos are dated November 1957. He also spent some time working in New York City

Some of the money was given to the churches in Bolivia, knowing that Herrick was always interested in our link with that country. Using the rest to pay for solar panels seemed appropriate as it aligns with our values and will truly be Herrick’s lasting legacy.