Normal service at Nelson cathedral

Last updated 13:00 27/12/2013
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NANCY HOLDEN
GOOD REPORT CARD: Nelson's Cathedral is bathed in blue to celebrate the birth of the royal baby earlier this year.

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A preliminary report on Nelson's Christ Church Cathedral indicates it is sound, but a final engineering report is still pending, Bishop Richard Ellena says.

The cathedral has been named as a possible alternative concert venue in the wake of closure of the Nelson School of Music, pending earthquake strengthening.

Questions have been raised about the seismic strength of the marble cathedral following the collapse of the cathedral in Christchurch in the fatal earthquake almost three years ago.

The English Gothic cathedral which dominates the Nelson cityscape is the successor to an 1880s structure which was damaged by earthquakes and destroyed by fire.

The foundation stone for the new cathedral was laid in 1925. Its Takaka marble construction is a hotchpotch of plans as a result of the Great Depression and World War II.

In 1957, a simplified plan to finish the cathedral with concrete was approved. The Prow noted in 2008 that the concrete sections of the cathedral, particularly the 35-metre tower, are deteriorating.

Bishop Ellena said if the diocese had any concern it would be over the spire, but the issues a few years ago were linked to the fact masonry was loose.

"Preliminary reports show the building is not too bad - there's no advice so far that indicates we have to shut up shop here.

"Everything is well locked in and reinforced, but it was a concern, so we made a point of asking."

Cathedral Dean Nick Kirk said a scan of the building had been done to assess the strength of the walls. It proved there was more steel there than in the plans, which boded well for its strength, but the pending engineer's report would ultimately confirm its level of strength.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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