Chapel Restoration

Although the earthquake in 2010 was stronger than that in 2011, it was centered north of the city and the Nurses’ Memorial Chapel sustained minimal damage and after safety checks was reopened to visitors. Unfortunately, this was short lived and in February 2011 significant damage occurred, resulting in a lengthy period of closure.
The then president of the Friends of the Chapel, Dr Ray Wootton, arranged with staff of the Cultural Collections Recovery Centre based at the Air Force museum at Wigram for the removal and safe storage of all the contents of the chapel – furniture, the organ and the artifacts in the museum housed in one of the vestries.
Two significant factors in the history of the chapel occurred during the period of its closure.

Firstly, the staff of the Air Force museum assisted Friends of the Chapel volunteers to catalogue, clean and store the contents to ensure their longevity and to prepare for their return to the Chapel.

Secondly the Canterbury District Health Board and the Christchurch City Council agreed on a land transfer so that the Council became the “owner” of the chapel and has restored the chapel as one of its heritage projects, ensuring that it is strengthened to current building codes while retaining its unique historical features.

Following extensive investigation of the impact of the earthquakes, the building plans for repair and strengthening were developed.

Deconstruction commenced in the basement; the internal wood panelling was removed and carefully stored; the inner brick wall was partly removed and replaced with masonry block; brick buttresses were dismantled and a concrete core built to connect the inner block work and a new ring beam which was constructed between the top wall and the roof; the two gable ends and sanctuary arch were deconstructed and new reinforced concrete walls built and clad with limestone and a brick outer skin; the roof slate tiles were carefully removed and relaid over a new ply timber diaphragm. All internal timber paneling, parquet flooring, limestone and associated interior fittings were then re-instated.

The construction period on site was 14 months and the chapel was re-opened on October 27th 2018 by the Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy.

The Friends of the Nurses’ Memorial Chapel and the Chapel Trust acknowledge the significant financial contribution and support from the Christchurch City Council to enable the restoration of the Memorial Chapel

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