Durham Street Methodist Church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Durham Street Methodist Church
Durham St Methodist Church01.jpg
Durham Street Methodist Church circa 1890–1915
Coordinates: 43°31′40″S 172°38′00″E / 43.5279°S 172.6333°E / -43.5279; 172.6333
LocationChristchurch Central City
CountryNew Zealand
Founded25 December 1864 (1864-12-25)
Heritage designationCategory I
Demolished22 February 2011

The Durham Street Methodist Church in Christchurch was the earliest stone church constructed in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand. It is registered as a "Historic Place – Category I" by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

The church was severely damaged by an earthquake on 4 September 2010, but collapsed during a following earthquake on 22 February 2011, killing three workers who were removing the organ.


Christchurch was mainly an Anglican settlement. The congregation of Methodists was small, but active.[1] The first Methodist Chapel, which was located in High Street, was sold in 1864.[2]

Photo from 1921. The building at right angles is the school that was added in 1873, which can't be seen from Durham Street these days, as the view is blocked by the Methodist Mission
The church in November 2010 with steel bracing after the 2010 Canterbury earthquake

An architectural competition was held for a new church in Durham Street. The winning architectural firm, Crouch and Wilson from Melbourne, had entered a design in the Gothic Revival style in the 1863 competition. Local architect Samuel Farr, who had come to Akaroa in early 1850, came second in the competition and was engaged to for the construction supervision.[1][3] In early 1864, the foundation stone was laid by Samuel Bealey who at the time was Superintendent of Canterbury Province.[4] The building was officially opened on Christmas Day 1864 and Canterbury thus had its first church built of permanent materials.[1][5] The stone used includes Halswell and Port Hills basalt and Charteris Bay sandstone.[2] A gallery was added to the building in 1869 and a schoolroom was built next to it in 1875. A parsonage was subsequently erected facing Chester Street.[1] In 1951 a Memorial Chapel was added, dedicated to those killed in both World Wars.[2]

On 2 April 1985, the church building was registered with the registration number 3099 by the Historic Places Trust as a Category I heritage building.[1] An atrium was built in 1987 to connect the church to the Aldersgate building next door which houses offices for both the church and the Christian Methodist Mission.[6]


Ruins of the church in June 2011

The 1888 North Canterbury earthquake caused a spire in the south-eastern corner to tilt, leading to its subsequent removal.[2] The church and hall were severely damaged in the September 2010 earthquake and the aftershock the following Boxing Day.[2] The building collapsed the following February in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake while a team of eight workers from the South Island Organ Company were dismantling the organ, killing three of them.[7]


The interior plan reflected the standard Victorian era Methodist layout of a meeting hall surrounded by galleries and was designed to accommodate 1200 people.[1][2] The cedar pulpit, centred on the back wall, was accessed by a double staircase.[2] The organ, installed in 1902, replaced an earlier hand pumped organ which had been installed in 1874. The replacement organ was built by Ingram & Co. in Hereford, United Kingdom and was valued at $1 million prior to the church's destruction.[2] Four sets of memorial stained glass windows were installed at different times.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Church (Methodist)". The Register. New Zealand Historic PlacesTrust. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Church History". Durham Street Methodist Church. Christian Methodist Mission. Retrieved 24 February 2011.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Platts, Una (1980). "FARR, Samuel Coleridge (Charles?) 1827–1918". Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook. Christchurch: Avon Fine Prints. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  4. ^ "The Durham Street Wesleyan Church". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]. New Zealand Historic Places Trust. 1903. Retrieved 28 February 2011 – via The Cyclopedia Company.
  5. ^ "Christchurch – a chronology". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Our Location". Christian Methodist Mission. Archived from the original on 4 January 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  7. ^ "Quake hits home". The Timaru Herald. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.