St Mary's Church to see more modern light

Restoration Trust chairman Ray Bennett at St Mary's Church where scaffolding has been erected for updating the lighting.
TETSURO MITOMO/FAIRFAX NZ

Restoration Trust chairman Ray Bennett at St Mary's Church where scaffolding has been erected for updating the lighting.

A $150,000 project under way at St Mary's Church in Timaru will update all its wiring and lighting, and add extra protection for its stained glass windows.

The work had been planned before the church was closed in February 2012, over concerns for the safety of parishioners following the Canterbury earthquakes.

The church re-opened in 2015 although no work had to be completed other than strengthening a stained glass window framing.

St Mary's Church interior work has begun, pictured is Ray Bennett.
TETSURO MITOMO/FAIRFAX NZ

St Mary's Church interior work has begun, pictured is Ray Bennett.

The stone pinnacles and crosses, loosened and broken through the earthquakes, have not yet been replaced.

Restoration Trust chairman Ray Bennett said the incandescent lighting would be updated with LCD (liquid crystal display) lantern lights. The change is expected to reduce the church's electricity bill by about 60 per cent.

"The lifetime of the old lights was 2000 hours. The new lights will have [a life expectancy] 20,000 hours. And they will be brighter."

Scaffolding had to be used to reach a blown bulb in the apex.

"So we had to replace all the bulbs," he said.

The 35 stained glass windows in the church will also receive special protection screens.

The businesses contracted for the work had been "generous" with their costings, he said.

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The jobs will be completed within six weeks and Sunday services will not be affected, but the church will be closed to visitors during the week.

The iconic church, which can be seen from a few kilometres offshore, took 28 years to build from 1880 to 1909 as the parishioners could afford each stage. It was built with Timaru grey stone and lined with Oamaru stone.

Bennett said in 1999 the church had undergone a seismic assessment and work to tie the roof down was completed, so when the Canterbury earthquakes struck the church was in a good position compared to some others.

The Restoration Fund has also completed maintenance on the nave, tower and south part of the building which had been started before the earthquakes and put on hold until it re-opened after them.

 - Stuff

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