Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Head for Heights: Steeple Balancing on Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand, 1903

Aspiring to excellence...
(click image for a larger view)

"Much excitement was caused in Christchurch on Monday week, when a workman was seen on the top of scaffolding erected around the spire of the Cathedral. The man [Arthur James Watts, 1863-1956] was engaged in boring the hole in which the cross which surmounts the Cathedral is to be placed". The Weekly Press, 8 July 1903, p. 28. Christchurch City Library photo collection.

Earthquake damage to the Cathedral spire in 1888 and 1901.The 1901 damage is on the left, the earlier 1888 damage on the right. The Canterbury Times, 20 Nov. 1901, p. 38.

The original stone spire was damaged in three earthquakes. On 15 Dec. 1881, an earthquake lasting 45 seconds brought down some ornamental moulding. On 1 Sept. 1888, the top 7.8 metres of the spire collapsed as shown in the photograph above (right side view). A third quake on 16 Nov. 1901, shook loose the top 1.5 metres of stonework necessitating the repairs being completed by Mr. Watts and others in the top picture. The spire was remodelled in hardwood sheathed in metal to reduce the dangers associated with fractured and falling masonry.

The Cathedral under construction circa 1880 looking at the east arch from Worcester Street.
(click image for a larger view)

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