Church window smashed to smithereens is repaired

19:22, Feb 15 2013
Church windows
DEVASTATING: The damaged windows from the Church of the Holy Innocents near Peel Forest after they were restored.

Restoring three large stained-glass windows from an earthquake-destroyed church is proof that "if something can be picked up it can be put back together".

Graham Stewart has rescued glass from shattered windows in many Canterbury churches but he has never restored one before now. It is a centrepiece of the Quake City exhibition that opened in Christchurch yesterday.

The North Loburn conservationist salvaged "thousands and thousands of tiny pieces" of stained glass from the Church of Holy Innocents near Peel Forest.

The church was badly damaged in the September 2010 earthquake and Stewart, along with Mt Peel Station owner Rosemary Acland, carried broken glass out in sheets and piled the "dust-like" pieces into bags before the 18-month job of restoring the windows started.

"It's been a very big job," he said.

"The windows are about 3 metres tall at least, and we had nothing to go on. It was smashed to smithereens and it took weeks to go through every piece."


Computer modelling was used to work out the dimensions of the window, and the pieces were put together "like a jigsaw puzzle" using a photograph.

He said watching the windows "slowly come back to life" had been "simply brilliant".

"It has been so sad to see the damage caused," he said. "All those beautiful windows that have broken and we may or may not see again, so this has been really positive."

The interactive exhibition will be co-ordinated by the Canterbury Museum and will tell the stories of those affected by the quakes and educate visitors about the science behind the tremors.

Remnants of well-known buildings will be on display, including the bell and spire from the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as the statue of John Godley.

Quake City is in Cashel St in the Re:Start Mall.

The Press