Historic church repairs finally under way

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‘‘Several hundred tonnes of church’’ was hauled on to red zone land this week.
Kaiapoi’s St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church building was moved on to neighbouring red zone land on Monday so new foundations can be laid, as earthquake repairs finally began.
The 161-year-old wooden church in Cass Street, now believed to be Canterbury’s oldest church, is facing a $1.2 million bill, which involves a combination of conservation and restoration work and earthquake repairs.
In recent weeks the church building has been lifted using hydraulics, so train tracks and wheels could be placed underneath in preparation for the move.
As well as new foundations, the building will undergo internal repairs and a complete refurbishment. The organ will also be repaired.
The parish has received a lottery grant of $523,000 and an insurance payout of $245,000. The remaining funds are being fundraised by the parish.
The church’s 80-year-old Cass Street hall was also damaged in the earthquakes, but has been restored and is being used for Sunday services in the meantime.
The St Bartholomew’s Church building is Canterbury’s oldest Anglican church building and is registered as a category one building with Heritage New Zealand.
It is not the first time the church has been moved, as it was originally built at Darnley Square, across the other side of Williams Street, in 1855 and was later hauled across to its present site in Cass Street using bullocks and logs. The Kaiapoi Anglican Parish celebrated its 160th anniversary in November 2013 and traces its origin back to the arrival of Rev John Raven arrived in Canterbury in 1853 and became Canon of Christchurch Cathedral.
However, the foundations for the Cathedral had not yet been laid so he turned his attentions to the land, purchasing land from the Kaiapoi Pa and across to the north side of Woodend to the native reserve on the Rangiora road and named the farm Ravenswood.
Soon after arriving in Woodend, he took on the role of being the first minister in the Kaiapoi curate or district, before returning to England with his family in the late 1860s. The Ravenswood farm was later sold in 1872
Part of Rev Raven’s old farm is now part of the new sub-division, Ravenswood, being developed to the north of Woodend.