We’re now so used to the beautiful slate roof of Old St Paul’s, it seems like it has been there forever. However, that is not the case.
The photos above were taken just before and just after the restoration of the church in the 1960s.
The original roof of St Paul’s was wooden shingles, as shown in the image below in 1868. In 1895 these were removed and replaced with an iron roof. This in turn was replaced with welsh slates in 1924, with the exception of the spire and baptistry and a few other small areas. As the new cathedral was planned, the Anglican church stopped carrying out any major maintenance on the church, and the spire was rusting, and the paint peeling off the weatherboards, by the time the government bought it in 1966.
During the major restoration of the church by the Ministry of Works, which lasted from 1966-1970, the iron was removed from the spire and replaced with slates which had been removed from the old Wellington Customhouse, which had been demolished a few months earlier, and carefully preserved for the project. Also installed as part of this work was a replica of the beautiful spire cross.
The spire was recently (2012) re-slated – here is a close-up of it as it looks now:
Images: 1868 image: Creator unknown: from the Dorset album. Ref: 1/2-021154-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22400259; Main images, Copyright Peter Shepherd (taken 1966-1970). Photo taken 2012, by Heritage New Zealand.