14th March 2023

Christ Church cathedral after the earthquakes of 2010/2011

I’m delighted that Nicholson & Co Ltd have this week announced that they’ve won the contract to build a structurally new organ for Christ Church Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand.

The clear-up begins

I have been working with the Christ Church team since 2019 in developing a scheme for the resurrection of the distinguished Hill / HNB / South Island Organ Company organ, which was not only thoroughly shaken up in the devastating earthquakes a decade ago (which came close to destroying the cathedral) but since then has been home to flocks of pigeons, who have filled it with their mess, as can be imagined.  The plan, now the building has been made safe to enter, is to remove the pipes (started this week), clean them then assess later in the year which ranks can be reused.  Our assumption is that many ranks will need to be new, though the hope is that we can save quite a bit.  The new organ will be divided either side of the chancel, mainly speaking west, which should get round the problem the old organ had of being ‘bottled up’ within its chamber.

The new Song School

A new Music Department will also be built.  This is an exciting project on which I shall post again from time to time over the next four years as it gradually comes into being.  Here is the official link to the Christ Church Cathedral concept design website – a very interesting and informative read: https://christchurchcathedral.org.nz/our-project/concept-design/.

The organ cases before the earthquakes

In the photograph of the organ before the earthquakes can be seen large wooden pipes elevated in the north transept, painted white. These are actually the bottom twelve pipes of the 32ft Double Open Wood stop, the tallest being in the row behind. They have been a considerable logistical challenge to lift down to the cathedral floor – accomplished earlier this year.