Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Old Church Lives Again

Until 2007, when driving out to Auckland International Airport in Mangere, you may have seen an old landmark church on the approach road.
Westney Rd Methodist Church and its cemetery sat for 151 years on the corner of Ihumatao Rd and George Bolt Memorial Drive (which used to be called Westney Rd).
This sweet little wooden church (built in 1856) was extended by 12ft in 1887 to accommodate a growing congregation, and a vestry was added in 1918.
But with preparations starting for the construction of a new northern runway, it was one of several buildings that had to be removed in late 2007. The stained glass windows were removed before it was shifted, so they would not be damaged. And the graves around the church also had to be relocated, many of them to Mangere Lawn Cemetery.
The church was initially moved to a temporary site, all costs met by the airport. Another old house nearby couldn't be saved, but materials from that'll be used in the church's renovation.
The airport's been working with the Historic Places Trust to relocate and restore the building. Those plans are now approved, and just last week (March 2011) the church was moved to its new home near Nixon Road.
The location, called The Common, is an area of the Auckland Airport Business District that'll include heritage and recreation activities. Within The Common, the airport is creating Abbeville Farm Estate which will include the restored Abbeville barn and homestead (c.1854), the Westney homestead and the church. Restoration is being managed by a team of architects, project managers and contractors experienced in heritage restoration, in close consultation with the Historic Places Trust.
Part of developing the Abbeville Farm Estate is finding sustainable activities to house within the buildings. The airport is currently working with a number of parties with an interest in utilising the buildings, and hopes to have final plans settled by the end of 2011.
It's pleasing that the aiport's progress still has a place for history...

2 comments:

Alan Hogenauer said...

Thanks for a MOST helpful commentary and photo! HIKED from the Ferry Building to the Airport (!) on August 9, 2003, and the luckily-accessible Westney Church potty was a memorable stop!

Also, had a gem sunset "obelisk photo" that I couldn't confirm, but one of your photos shows it to be the one right there by the church!

Thanks again!

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

Hell, that was one IMPRESSIVE hike! That's about 30km, Alan - well done!
I suspect the lil' ol' corrugated iron loo out the back probably did NOT get moved to the heritage park!