Home' Greymouth Star : May 24th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Saturday, May 24, 2014
t was in 1937, two years before World
War Two erupted when the Anglican
Bishop of Nelson, G Hilliard, laid the
foundation stone for a church on Packers
Quay, Blaketown. Two years later, St
Andrews was officially opened and then
consecrated on November 28, 1942.
The little church quickly became the focal point
of the seaside community and the setting for many
weddings, baptisms and parades of guides and
brownies, also deputising for several years as the
Greymouth Anglican church after the great fire
on Anzac Day 1956 destroyed the main church, in
Three appliances and all available men rushed
to the scene of the fire but the Greymouth Fire
Brigade was unable to save the old Holy Trinity
Church, resulting in many weddings and funerals
being shifted to Blaketown.
The first of the weddings shifted to St Andrews
was the marriage of Reg and Elza Biddington and,
when Roy Henry married Wendy Green there soon
after, the church which only seated 40 to 50 people,
was bulging at the seams, leaving many of the
wedding party to gather outside.
Regular services of holy communion were held
at Blaketown on Thursday evenings by Greymouth
clergy, while Les Stanton and other men living
nearby maintained the grounds.
The Thursday ser vices began in 1939 as prayer
sessions in which Blaketown women would gather
to pray for the soldiers overseas.
After 50 years of faithful ser vice the quayside
church was looking a little worse for wear, so in
1988 parishioners started fundraising and two years
later Neil Sadler, Graham Hutton, Mike Prasad,
Roy Williams, Percy Veale and Gordon Richardson
set about the renovations, which included a stained
glass window that the Women’s Guild funded by
knocking on every door in Blaketown.
Shirley Richardson and Joyce Williams were
among the door knockers and the collection is
among their treasured memories of the church.
“No one turned us down. We knocked on every
door in Blaketown and everyone had something to
give,” they recalled recently in a joint interview.
“On Christmas mornings we would take the
record player with some Jim Reeves records of
Christmas carols to entertain us because the
minister would always be late.
“It was a great wee church. We were all broken-
hearted when it closed. It was a real community
church. The altar was donated by the Hughes
family, the Robertsons donated the candlesticks,
Mr Hodgson made the lectern and did all the
carpentry — all were involved one way or another.”
The church ser ved the Richardson and Williams
families well and in return they ser ved it, daughters
of both women, Linda Richardson and Anne
Williams returning to teach Sunday School there.
Another parishioner, Mary Hines, said her most
vivid recollection of St Andrews Sunday School
was the tall figure of Edith Spender “singing
beautifully in her soft English voice to a room full
of young children”.
“On St Andrew ’s Day in 1938 we collected
our little black chairs, walked out past the fire
station and into our lovely new building, seating
ourselves in the very front rows. We met on Sunday
mornings, commencing with hymns and prayers,
followed by lessons in groups, and coming together
for ‘home time’ prayers and hymns,” Mrs Hines
“One chair was frilled and draped with blue
cotton as a birthday chair. We were accorded
musical honours and sat there when it was our
In keeping with the strong character of the
Blaketown community the little church has
withstood all that mother nature could throw at
it, and it again stood proud while buildings all
around it — including the hall next door, which
was the venue for Sunday School ser vices before St
Andrews was built — were bruised and battered by
Cyclone Ita on April 17 this year.
It made sense to the good folk of
Blaketown that their little Anglican
Church should be called St Andrews.
What better name for a church
that backed on to the fishermen’s
wharf than that of the patron saint
of fishermen, fishmongers and rope
makers? These days it serves as the
The River Church, but it was the
home of Blaketown Anglicans for 66
happy years, until shutting in 2005.
TUI BROMLEY reports.
A 1956 wedding photo of Gordon Richardson and Shirley Barrow.
Peter Barrow (brother of the bride), left, Jessie Richardson, Gordon
Richardson, Shirley Barrow and Queenie Barrow, with flower girls
Judith Williams and Edith Richardson.
Worshippers in the newly refurbished St Andrew ’s Church, in 1990. Back row: Sonia Pascoe, Shirley Pascoe, Rev Don
Nicholas, Rev Ruby Jones, Canon Robin Kingston, Roy Williams, Len Goodall, Graham Hutton. Middle: Zena Lyall,
Mary Veale, Doreen Lister, June MacDonald, Margaret Cooper, George Cooper, Kath Sims, Doreen Bowes, Mary Thomas.
Front: Rewa Bidddington, Connie Newby, Rose Goodall, Shirley Cox, Eunice Walker, Joyce Williams, Nell Hutton,
The congregation gathers outside soon after the church opened in 1939.
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