Clock tower fence coming down
Tower meet earthquake standardsCATHIE BELL
The fences around the memorial clock in Blenheim's Seymour Square will come down tomorrow after engineering tests showed the tower met earthquake standards, Marlborough District Council said yesterday.
Council assets and services manager Mark Wheeler said tests on the War Memorial clock tower showed that though the structure only just met the minimum soundness required by the building code, the exterior stonework appeared secure.
He said the clock tower would be reopened, but more work was likely to meet tighter safety standards signalled as a result of the royal commission of inquiry into the Christchurch earthquake. A structural report assesses the clock tower as meeting 35 per cent of the building code's seismic loading standard for new buildings. Anything below 33 per cent is deemed earthquake-prone.
Mr Wheeler said the temporary fence around the clock tower will be dismantled tomorrow. Today, the clock tower will be cleaned and the clock rewound.
Mr Wheeler said engineering consultants Aurecon say further investigations are needed to work out how to strengthen the foundations. A decision would then have to be made about the time for the remedial work.
"We have to face up to the fact that some further work may be required. Council's overall earthquake-prone building policy is currently under review and we're also aware that local bodies may well be expected to enforce higher standards of building safety in future as a consequence of the Christchurch earthquake. But in the meantime, in terms of current rules and policies, the clock tower complies with the minimum standard." Adhesion testing of the stonework revealed no problems and the stones that were tested would be refixed into place. Mr Wheeler said that work should be completed today.
"The stonework has passed the adhesion test, so that's a relief - and it's very pleasing to be able to confirm that the original mortar work done by Blenheim stonemasons George and John Munro and Robert Vass is standing the test of time," he said.
Mr Wheeler said local authorities had to take a cautious approach once there was a suggestion of risk to the public. The adhesion tests were recommended by the engineers who looked at the clock tower's overall soundness.
"A piece of a cornice did break off about 18 months ago and at that time a local stonemason and a structural engineer did check that out for us and gave it the all-clear. Now we've had the further reassurance about the stonework and, together with the engineer's report, we have a pretty full picture of the overall structure - a report our council insurers will be pleased to receive."
He said most people understood that the safety of the public is the council's first responsibility and that the investigation was done for that reason. "Then we all had to accept that it would take a bit of time because of the pressure of work that the country's specialist engineers are under in the wake of Christchurch. Other regions have just had to wait in line because there have been more pressing priorities down there."
- The Marlborough Express