Reinforcement work saves hall for community

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2014
St Andrew's Church hall
SCOTT HAMMOND/ Fairfax NZ

ROCK SOLID: Gordon Mitchell, left, and project convenor Ralph Heywood with one of the 30 steel braces already installed in the church hall roof. 

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Extensive earthquake strengthening to St Andrew's Church hall in Blenheim is progressing well, but a completion date is yet to be confirmed.

Thirty steel braces have been installed in the roof and steel pillars built into some of the walls.

Parish clerk Raewyn Buchanan said costs had reached $290,000 but demolishing the hall would have cost just as much.

"It's been a long journey and we've been without the two rooms on either end of the hall and the kitchen for 18 months, but the hall is so well used by the community we had to save it," she said.

Work to reinforce the building following last year's earthquakes began in April.

Funding has been raised through events including concerts, dinners and garden shows as well as dipping into church savings.

The reinforcement work will bring the building up to 70 per cent of the new building standards, well above the Marlborough District Council's requirement of 34 per cent. Despite not showing any real signs of damage following the July and August quakes, the hall was deemed earthquake prone by engineers last year with a rating of 30 per cent.

Gordon Mitchell Construction, of Blenheim, has been carrying out the work. Gordon Mitchell said two more braces had to be installed in the roof, which he was hoped to do today.

This would be followed by the removal of some stone work on the outside of the west and east ends of the church, which would take about 15 tonnes of weight off the structure.

A suitable cladding would be used to replace the stone.

Other maintenance work had been carried out such as the replacement of old and worn gas lines and upgrading the fire alarm system.

"Things have gone fairly well. The only unexpected part was the asbestos that was found in the roof, but we had other work to get on with while that was being removed," Mitchell said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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