Throwback Thursday: Nelson Cathedral


The Christ Church Cathedral is credited for changing Nelson from a town to a city but it was also condemned as “a menace to the public” in 1920. Needless to say, the iconic church on the hill has had a shaky past.

Nelson’s first church was a tent, erected in 1842. This was later replaced by a wooden building and enlarged several times.

In 1858, Queen Victoria sent a royal decree establishing Nelson as a bishop’s see, this meant that construction for a cathedral could go ahead, whilst also turning Nelson from a town to a city.

The church was once more expanded before disaster struck in 1893. An earthquake damaged the spire, compromising the building’s stability before a fire did further damage to the church in the same year.


[twentytwenty]cathedral now cathedral then[/twentytwenty]


Plans for a new cathedral made of Takaka marble were approved and a foundation stone was laid in 1925 but work was stopped by the Great Depression and the second World War.

Much to everyone’s disgust, plans to make a simpler, concrete cathedral were approved in 1957.

This was met with much opposition, the Nelson Evening Mail even printed an article saying “…the changed design cannot compare with the most commanding ecclesiastical site in New Zealand…we are apparently to be satisfied with the second best.”

The new cathedral was completed regardless and stands proudly as a local landmark, despite concrete deterioration.