Devil's Staircase route for church

The former Lumsden Presbyterian Church is sitting high and dry on trailers ready to be shifted to Arrowtown.

The roof was scheduled to leave Lumsden at 9am today but whether it leaves will depend on weather conditions.

During the past two weeks, King House Removals staff, of Invercargill, have been preparing the church to be moved to the corner of McDonnell Rd and State Highway 6.

The rest of the building is scheduled to be moved tomorrow morning.

King House co-owner Warren Willis said it was not easy to shift older buildings in one piece as they had been built using different techniques to today’s.

"With a church there’s always challenges the way things are notched in and bolted in funny places."

The building had a sloping floor and that had slowed down its removal from its foundations.

"We’ve had to pack it up on the deck — that’s what’s taken so long, getting all the packing right."

The last three jobs the company had undertaken were for buildings other contractors had said could not be removed in one piece.

However, the company had a history of moving buildings, Mr Willis said.

"My father’s owned the business since 1959 so he’s passed it down to us. I’ve been doing it for maybe 35 years."

King House Removals labourer Jake Willis is part of the team that has loaded the former Lumsden...
King House Removals labourer Jake Willis is part of the team that has loaded the former Lumsden Presbyterian Church building on to a trailer ready for shifting to its new site in Arrowtown. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
He did not expect to have any difficulties moving the building through the length of road known as the Devil’s Staircase.

"All the trailer wheels steer as well. We will do it with our eyes closed, we’ve been doing it that long."

The company had already taken about eight buildings through the staircase which was steep and contained sharp bends.

The truck and trailer would take up both sides of the road.

If needed, the trailer could be lifted 2.8m high.

He estimated it would take four and a-half hours to cover the 115km distance.

The process of moving the house was being filmed for the television programme Moving Houses.

Church members’ decision to sell the 1891 building and cut down 14 lawson cypresses planted about the same time to make way for its removal was not a popular one with some Lumsden residents.

The congregation planned to replace the building with a modern facility and it was hoped the building would start some time in the coming year.