Welsh slate helps to rebuild earthquake city

The roofs of two historic buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand, are being renovated with Welsh Slate.

The first of five containers of Welsh Slate is due to arrive shortly in New Zealand to help in what is dubbed as one of the largest heritage restorations in the world.

Welsh Slate’s Penrhyn Heather Blue slates, from the company’s main Penrhyn Quarry in North Wales, will be used to restore two main elements of one of the most historic buildings in earthquake-hit Christchurch.

Some 5,000 600x300mm and 30,000 500x254mm of the natural riven slate will re-roof the clock tower building and college hall of the city’s Arts Centre in a project estimated to last close to 2020.

The earthquake in 2010 caused significant damage but when this was compounded by the second in February 2011, the centre was forced to close the doors to 22 of its 23 buildings. Now, 2013 has seen some of them start to re-open.

The $36million restoration of Block C is on schedule for completion in early 2015. Most of this work has concentrated on the college hall which celebrated its 130th anniversary in December, making it quake-resilient without altering its historic look, complete with original slate roof.

While the clock tower remains firmly on the ground, the tower including the clock face, is being restored along with the mechanism so the iconic timepiece can be reinstated.

Jen Crawford, chair of the Arts Centre Trust Board, said:

“Restoration of this iconic heritage asset is critical to the success of the central city recovery effort. The Arts Centre continues to lead the way in earthquake recovery.”

And chief executive Andrew Lovatt added:

“The restoration of Block C is the largest and one of the most significant blocks from a heritage point of view. The high level of work is testament to the culture of care that has developed around our site.”