The Old St Paul’s roof is incredibly complex, with dozens of steeply pitched falls and valleys and internal gutters. My friend Karen is a plumber who has done lots of work to repair and care for the Old St Paul’s roof in the past, and she took these great images a few years ago. They show really well how complicated the roof, and some of the issues of caring for it.
I remember talking to one of the managers of the church once about the beautiful pohutukawas around the church, and she firmly told me they weren’t suitable urban trees – and you can certainly see their impact in one of the images above.
The roof was initially clad in timber shingles like many colonial buildings, and then replaced with corrugated iron in 1895. The new iron roof apparently wasn’t painted for 12 years, until Rev Sprott pointed out that it was corroding. Eventually, rather than repair it, the parish decided to replace the roof. When the work was completed Archdeacon Johnson told the Church Chronicle that ‘the old wooden pillars and rafters have proved equal to the strain of the extra burden of some 30 tons of slate’. The spire, baptistry and small porches at the southeast corner were not reroofed at this time, leaving the original iron (because the vestry had plans at the time to build a 100ft replacement tower and spire). The church had once again reached a bad state by the early 1950s and the original spire cross was removed by the fire brigade in 1959 as it was considered ‘in a dangerous position’. Further major restoration of the roof needed to wait until the Ministry of Works project which begun in 1967, when the spire was slated amongst the other work completed (see ‘before and after’ shots in this post).
Images copyright to Karen Lawrence, Gold Plumbing, and are not to be reproduced. Much of the information for this post came from work I did for the Old St Paul’s Conservation Plan, and Dallas Moore’s ‘Roof’ chapter in Old St Paul’s: A Notebook (1967, revised in 1998).