The pointy end of heritage funding

Published on 01 December 2021

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Built in 1876, St James’ Presbyterian Church’s spire and tower are undergoing staged repairs and a seismic upgrade. The project just happens to connect generations of the Salmond family.


The church sits proud on the hill alongside Tiverton Street as it leaves Palmerston heading to the Pig Root. Waitaki District Council’s Grants and Awards committee recently met to discuss an emergency Waitaki Heritage Fund application from the parish, recognizing the community and architectural significance of this Category 1 historic place (Category A in the Heritage Appendix of the District Plan), and the importance and urgency of the work to stabilize and strengthen the spire. The committee made a grant of $15,000.


Following a detailed condition report undertaken in 2020, the Church Vestry has been fundraising to undertake staged repairs and seismic upgrading of the church. Renowned heritage conservation architectural practice Salmond Reed are coordinating this carefully planned project.


The foundation stone for the church was laid by Rev. Professor William Salmond, first Professor of Theology at Otago University. It is fitting then, that 145 years later, his great grandson Jeremy Salmond, founding director of Salmond Reed, is involved with the restoration project alongside senior associate Tracey Hartley.
There are several urgent priorities to attend to including the renewal of the slate roof covering and damp problems. However, loose cracked stones at the very top of the spire meant that stage one is focusing on repairs to the spire and strengthening the spire to 67% of the National Building Standard. Strengthening works are under the direction of structural engineers, Batchelar McDougall Consulting.


Repairs are being undertaken by expert stonemasons Wainwright & Co Ltd, include cleaning and repointing stonework in lime mortar, repairs to decayed stonework, conservation of the iron weathervane, limewashing for protection of the eroded stonework, bird-proofing and the installation of seismic rods to the pyramidal finials, plus further strengthening within the spire.


Now, the only way is up!


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