Restoration of cracked and battered quake-hit Nth Canterbury church starts

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The heavy reredos, an ornamental screen covering the wall at the back of the altar, is finally...
The heavy reredos, an ornamental screen covering the wall at the back of the altar, is finally extracted. Photo: Supplied
Cracked and battered, St Paul’s Anglican Church at Glenmark has sat empty and forlorn for a decade.

The church, which has served the community since 1905, was red-stickered after the 2010 Canterbury earthquakes.

Burglars, vandals, weather, rats and pigeons have taken their toll, with the church left vulnerable with cracks to a wall, damage to the bell tower and an entranceway falling away from the building. Now, its restoration has begun.

Three working bees paved the way for RPC Construction to move in and take over the site. The first saw vegetation cleared around the building. At the second, all screws were removed from pews, while a third got the furniture into storage.

Volunteers discuss how to get an extra large pew out of the church in preparation for the...
Volunteers discuss how to get an extra large pew out of the church in preparation for the restoration. Photo: Supplied
The windows were removed 18 months ago and are now with an expert restorer.

The 1906 Norman and Beard organ, from England, is also on the move. It rose skyward on the south wall which was badly damaged in the quakes. It is the first time it has had to leave the south transept.

It is headed for Timaru to be overhauled by the South Island Organ Co. A sound can still be coaxed from the organ, which for many years was considered the best in the southern hemisphere, and one of the largest in a country church.

It remained in great order thanks to frequent visits from a tuner from Timaru.

The chairman of the Friends of the Glenmark Church, Andy Munro, said there was a fair bit of heavy lifting involved in stripping the interior, with a couple of the longer pews having to be cut in two.

The 1906 Norman and Beard organ is off for restoration. Photo: Supplied
The 1906 Norman and Beard organ is off for restoration. Photo: Supplied
Attention is now being turned to finding the remainder of the funds to complete the church restoration. While there is no definitive figure still needing to be raised, he hopes it can be kept to around $200,000 to $300,000.

The kitty currently stands at $1.65 million, a substantial portion of which came from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.

“It is a huge relief to get the project started,” Munro says.

“There are not too many brick buildings left after the earthquakes. A lot were demolished.”

St Paul’s was consecrated in 1907 with the building, organ, church furniture and bells costing about 8000.

They were a gift to the parish by Mrs Townend in memory of her father, Mr George Henry Moore, who established Glenmark Estate.

 

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