Sadness as church in Windsor is demolished

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THE remnants of the old Presbyterian church in Windsor now look soul-less.
With its stained glass windows removed, gaping holes along the southern wall are all that remain.
Windsor Community Church minister the Rev Peter Dunn said the building should be entirely demolished by next month.
‘‘It is sad to see it come down, especially as a lot of people have a lot of emotion invested in it.’’
Members of the church voted to demolish the church after vacating it in April last year after a wall moved in gale-force winds and it was assessed as a collapse risk. Since then, the congregation have met in neighbouring Jubilee Hall on the same site.
The decision to demolish the church, designed by architect Norman Lightbody and built in the late 1920s, was approved by the church’s governing body, Southern Presbytery, and the Synod last year.
Demolition was supposed to take nine weeks from about a month ago, however the contractors had found asbestos in three areas which had to be contained and dealt with, Mr Dunn said.
‘‘We knew about the sanctuary ceiling having asbestos and suspected the boiler under the floor may also have it… Samples were also taken throughout the building and one of them revealed asbestos mixed in with the internal cement plaster in the foyer area.’’
Mr Dunn said although there had been grieving over having to pull the church down, the demolition process had confirmed what the engineer’s report had said about the state of the building and other hidden things, such as the extent of dry rot and borer in the building.
‘‘The concerns about the brick walls have been confirmed, with a high percentage of the steel ties holding the two veneers together rusted through.
‘‘There is extensive borer damage in the vestry area and the roof sarking to the extent that none of the timber can be recycled from these areas.
‘‘The bottom two levels of the bell tower brickwork are in poor condition. They are described as rotten brick and mortar supporting the top level where the bell hangs, which is made of a concrete floor, walls and roof weighing an estimated 80 tonnes.’’
Some important historic artifacts had been kept and stored, including some of the furniture and the bell, which had originally belonged to First Church, Mr Dunn said.
‘‘We have also given away a number of things to other churches.’’
Mr Dunn expected the main part of the church to be ‘‘flattened’’ at the end of this week, which he said would be quite dramatic.
Once cleared of all the rubble, the site would be turned into a garden area until adecision was made about whether to rebuild on the site or not.
Mr Dunn said any decisions about the site or rebuilding would involve local church leaders, the Southern Presbytery and Synod.
‘‘We are looking ata four to five year time frame to think about whether to rebuild or not.’’

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