Presbyterian Archives Research Centre

Photo Gallery No 19 :

"Churches on the Move" (Page One)


Moving a Church is nothing new, the first "moveable" church we are aware of being the famous [Free Church of Scotland] "floating Church" of Loch Sunart which we have featured below.

The usual reason for moving a Church is that it is simply in the wrong place or no longer of use. In such cases moving the building may offer considerable advantages. The following photographs illustrate a selection of interesting 'moves' over the last century.

We would value your comments and feedback :

Presbyterian Church Archives Research Centre Home Page

Donald Cochrane
Curator of Photographs (Retired)

1 September 2010


Page One Page Two

The Floating Iron Church of Loch Sunart, 1846

The "Floating" Iron Church of Loch Sunart 1846 - 1873

In 1843 many clergy and parishioners in the established Church of Scotland "walked out" to form the Free Church of Scotland, the main objection being their inability to choose a Minister of their own choice.

However the local - and Episcopalian - landowner at Strontian refused permission for the fledgling Free Church congregation to purchase land on which to built a new Church. In desperation the congregation hit upon a novel idea, to raise £2000 to have an "iron church fit to accomodate 1,000 hearers" built on the Clyde which could then be permanently moored on Loch Sunart.

Our engraving illustrates the "Iron Church" being towed into position off Ardnastang village by the Steamer "Conqueror" in 1846. A few years later, a storm threw the Church up onto a piece of flat land fringing the shore. In the face of this unmistakable 'Divine will' the Landowner finally relented.

Two small sawn pieces of the Pulpit Chair are held by the Archives Research Centre, having been kept as souvenirs and brought to New Zealand by descendants of the congregation after the Floating Church was broken up in 1873.

[Ref. "Annals of the Disruption", 1884]


"Mt Albert" :

Mt Albert Presbyterian Church Auckland being pulled by a steam road roller away from its original site at the corner of New North Road and Mt. Albert Road, taken during the summer holiday break 1921-22.

The reason for moving was that the Church Managers believed that if left at the previous site it would have ended up "in the heart of a future shopping centre". This assumption proved the Managers entirely correct.

[Ref. P-A427-1-3]


Mt Albert Presbyterian Church Auckland on the move, 1921-22


Mt Albert Presbyterian Church Auckland on the move, 1921-22


"Mt Albert" :

Mt Albert Presbyterian Church Auckland being pulled along Mt Albert Road to its new site by a steam road roller. The new site on a sloping section also enabled a Sunday School Hall to be built under the Church.

[Ref. P-A427-1-2]


Owaka :

The Owaka Presbyterian Church, built 1891, shown on the original site of 'Quakerfield', being adjacent to the "old" Owaka township, 1907.

Even before building had commenced a dispute arose between Session and the Building Committee concerning the site of the Church but Presbytery upheld the action of Session. The Rev James Chisholm registered his dissent. The matter flared up again in 1900 and 1904.

This site did indeed prove to be somewhat distant from where the township actually developed and thus less convenient for Parishioners with consequent "sparse attendance at public worship".

[Ref. P-A50.2-5]


Owaka Presbyterian Church on Quakerfield, 1907


Owaka Presbyterian Church on the move, 1907


Owaka :

A traction engine pulling the Church (minus vestry) down the hill before following the road to Owaka, Oct-Nov 1907.

[Ref. P-A50.2-10]

Owaka :

Workmen placing timber sleepers on the road to act as skids to facilitate the journey to Owaka before the traction engine pulls the church a little bit further down the road, Oct-Nov 1907.

[Ref. P-A50.3-11]


Owaka Presbyterian Church on the move, 1907



Owaka Presbyterian Church vestry on the move, 1907


"Owaka" :

The traction engine maneuvering the Church vestry prior to re-joining the rest of the Church in Owaka township. Oct-Nov 1907

[Ref. P-A50.3-15]

Owaka :

Owaka Presbyterian Church shown in the centre of Owaka township, c.1921 This Church lasted until 1964, the new Church being build on the same section.

[Ref. P-A50.2-16]


Owaka Presbyterian Church, c.1921



Allanton Presbyterian Church on the move, 1904


Allanton :

Allanton Presbyterian Church being pulled uphill by two steam traction engines, 1904.

Previously built down in a gully and thus being prone to flooding, the Church was placed on a more commanding position on the hill above. The last service in this Church took place on the 11th October 1998. The building is now privately owned.

[Ref. P-A18-17-44]


"Luggate" :

Due to a serious - and seemingly rapid - decline in population, the Presbytery of Central Otago gave permission in 1931 for Hindon Church (built at Upper Hindon as recently as 1927) to be relocated to the more useful location of Luggate.

A somewhat large undertaking, first the roof iron was removed then the rest of the building taken apart, all being loaded onto Mr Cameron's truck for the road journey to Luggate.

[Ref. P-A46-22-80]



Hindon Church being dismantled, 1931



Parts of Hindon Church after dismantling, 1931


"Luggate" :

More of the old Hindon Church atop Mr Cameron's trusty three ton truck which he had offered for transporting the Church components, normally being employed on the construction of the Hawea Road.

[Ref. P-A46-22-81]

"Luggate" :

What appears to be the entrance porch atop Mr Cameron's truck. One feels that such an unweildy load would not be allowed today.

Other materials for the Luggate Church included redundant pews donated by Maori Hill Presbyterian Church Dunedin and railed free to Cromwell.

[Ref. P-A46-23-82]


Parts of Hindon Church after dismantling, 1931



Luggate Presbyterian Church, 1986



"Luggate Presbyterian Church" :

The reconstructed Hindon Church was rebuilt on a section made available by subdividing a piece of land from Mr Kingan's farm, being pictured here at Luggate in 1986.

[Ref. P-A46-1-4]


A Well Travelled Church :

Originally built in one day with the assistance of 300 workers, St Heliers Presbyterian Church Hall, Auckland was complete by sunset on Saturday the 9th December 1916, being used for worship services the following day. Originally built on leasehold land, the landowner (the Tamaki West Road Board) asked in 1923 that the hall be moved. Generously the Board refunded three years rent to help cover removal costs.

In February 1924 the 18 ton Church was placed on four-wheeled bogies and moved up the hill by means of a traction engine, block and tackle, and a stout macrocarpa tree. Many residents were puzzled as to how the Church was going up the hill, while the engine came down.

Further moves took place in 1956 and 1962, the Church now being in use at Glendowie

[Ref. St Heliers Collection]


St Heliers Presbyterian Church Auckland on the move, 1924

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