Heritage plumber Rob Jones from Melbourne inspects the roof of St Paul's Cathedral in Rockhampton with Church warden Doug Wyer.
Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin
Heritage plumber Rob Jones from Melbourne inspects the roof of St Paul's Cathedral in Rockhampton with Church warden Doug Wyer. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin Sharyn O'Neill ROK131112spauls2

HEAVENS ABOVE: Astronomical cost to save Rocky cathedral

ST PAUL'S Cathedral faces an uncertain future, with repairs over $10 million needed to save it from demolition.

Rockhampton Diocese Bishop David Robinson has called on the support of locals and Queenslanders everywhere to help save the 135-year old heritage-listed St Paul's Cathedral in William St, which has been closed since February 2017.

The cathedral was closed to the public after some movement in the north wall while groundworks to replace paving and reinstate the grounds were being carried out.

The movement resulted in some roof beams disengaging and the roof is currently being supported by internal scaffolding as the north wall remains in a precarious state.

The cathedral sustained significant roof damage during Tropical Cyclone Marcia and was re-opened after repairs in late 2016.

But it was closed just a few months later.

Bishop Robinson said he had concerns for the future of the cathedral given its current unsafe state and the enormous cost of repairs and restoration.

"Our preferred option is to make safe, repair and restore the cathedral,” he said.

"However the cost of doing this is enormous and it is very difficult at this stage to get accurate estimates of the cost.

"While we have attained several engineering reports, nobody knows precisely what it will cost to completely repair and restore the cathedral or how long it will take.

"To repair and restore the cathedral could cost in excess of $10 million.”

The diocese has launched a public fundraising campaign, 'Save St Paul's Cathedral', which is hoped will attract help from across the state.

Bishop Robinson said it was an unfortunate reality that, depending on further technical reports and the success of fundraising ventures, the diocese couldn't rule out the option of demolition.

"Over the past few months there has been considerable interaction with our insurers, engineers and architects about the cathedral,” Bishop Robinson said.

"Unfortunately, there is no simple explanation for why the movement occurred.

"It is apparent from the cathedral records that there have been a number of reports, over the decades about the instability of the soil, and the foundations of the building which, I understand, do not meet modern engineering standards.

"Some movement is inevitable in buildings of this age and for the most part they cope well. But we are unsure at this stage exactly what caused the wall to move so far and so suddenly.

"What we do know is that the building remains unsafe and that there is a significant risk of harm in addition to the question about liability if the wall was to collapse.

"We are awaiting further final reports which will help to inform our future decision-making.”

Bishop Robinson said the diocese had no choice but to make the front wall safe as soon as possible but it was unclear if this would allow the cathedral to re-open as additional structural work may be required inside the building.

All donations can be made to the "Save Our Cathedral Project”, through the Diocese of Rockhampton. PO Box 710, Rockhampton, QLD 4700.



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