After the 22nd February earthquake, my wife and I spent one night in a tent outside our home and then left to stay with friends in Timaru for a couple of nights.
On the way along Brougham Street, we passed the Sydenham Church on the corner of Colombo Street and Brougham Street.
As you can see from the photos, the upper area has been extensively damaged. Most of the damage appears to be on the east facing wall although we didn’t get much of a look at the other sides or, of course, the interior.
When we came back from Timaru on Friday 25th February, we were diverted by the police from a stretch of Brougham Street. At the same time, we heard from a friend over the phone that he had heard the church was being demolished and that’s why the road was closed.
Recently, this church has suddenly drawn the attention of the media as it turns out no one really knows who, if anyone, gave permission for the church to be torn down.
Apparently, the church was built in 1878 (as the Wesleyan Methodist Church according to this website) and out-dates even Christchurch’s Anglican Cathedral.
The Heritage Trust is obviously rather angry that the church has been torn down and is demanding answers from the contractors. Those contractors say that they were employed to demolish the church by an engineer within the city council, although the council, Civil Defence and the owners of the church say that they haven’t given any form of permission for the demolition of the church at all.
According to this Press report, the first that the relevant officials heard about the church being torn down was when the demolition crew set off an alarm inside the building.
Update: New Photos
I’ve managed to get to the site of this church again recently, following the demolition. These are the ‘after’ photos I guess. One of them rather ironically shows the billboard standing next to the pile of rubble that says “Sydenham is Open for Business”.
And this is a ‘before’ photo by a Flickr user called ‘gobeirne’: