Church of St Alban the Martyr

St Bathans Downs Road, St Bathans

  • Church of St Alban the Martyr, St Bathans.
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  • Church of St Alban the Martyr, St Bathans. Image courtesy of
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  • Church of St Alban the Martyr, St Bathans. Image courtesy of
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  • Church of St Alban the Martyr, St Bathans. Interior.
    Copyright: Advertising & Art. Taken By: Stewart Robertson. Date: 19/10/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 2252 Date Entered 30th March 2007 Date of Effect 30th March 2007


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the land in Certificate of Title OT79/234 and the building, its fixtures and fittings thereon. Chattels included are the original chairs, Psalm and Hymn Books, The Book of Common Prayer, Scriptural Lessons, and The Holy Bibles sent as part of the package with the church building.

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Sec 7 Blk I Town of St Bathans (RT OT79/234), Otago Land District

Location description

Adjoins 1297 St Bathans Downs Road on its northern boundary.


The Church of St Alban the Martyr is located on St Bathans Downs Road, a continuation of the main thoroughfare of the small Central Otago settlement of St Bathans. The timber-framed, corrugated iron Church was prefabricated in Britain, and erected in St Bathans in 1883. Absentee runholder Frederick Dalgety, founder of the stock and station agency Dalgetys, arranged for its prefabrication and donated the Church for the benefit of his employees and the wider community. This special structure, rare in its prefabrication, and significant in its long term association with its Dalgetys, is an illustration of the importance of Christianity in the lives of St Bathan's residents, and as the town's first church it is a reminder of the interdenominational community support that continues in 2006.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Church has historic significance as the first permanent church building erected in St Bathans (replacing two earlier structures which succumbed to the harsh Central Otago weather), and one which provided an interdenominational centre for worship in the then bustling gold mining town. Through its association with nearby Hawkdun Station, station owner and founder of stock and station agency Dalgety and Co., Frederick Dalgety, and manager William Burnett the Church demonstrates the historically important role of the runholder and stock agent to the wider community in such isolated districts in the nineteenth century. The on going historic links with the stock and station agents Dalgety's (founded by Frederick) also illustrate the importance of such companies in rural life.

The Church has architectural, technological and aesthetic significance.

The Church has architectural significance as an example of mid nineteenth century church design, providing a representative example of the kind of buildings first erected in gold field's Otago towns. The architecture of goldfields towns was characterised by temporary buildings, first canvas structures, and then often timber structures with corrugated iron cladding. St Alban's is a significant architectural reminder of the buildings associated with this period in Central Otago's history.

The Church has outstanding technological significance. It is a prefabricated structure, timber framed with corrugated iron cladding. It was prefabricated in England, and may be the only surviving structure of its type in New Zealand. The prefabricated building industry developed in England, as a result of the industrial revolution, and the industry associated with corrugated iron. The engineering companies which developed the iron also found a market for temporary structures particularly in gold mining areas of California and Australia, as well as domestic markets in Britain. The prefabricated structures were an expression of the development of engineering technologies, and St Alban's is a typical example of what is now an increasingly rare building type.

The Church has aesthetic significance. This is a plain vernacular corrugated iron structure, but one which has come to epitomise the aesthetic associated with gold mining Otago (and other rural locations) which sees corrugated iron cladding as an expression of a New Zealand identity. The small scale of the building and its setting in the outstanding historic landscape of St Bathans give it strong aesthetic qualities.

The Church has spiritual significance as the centre for Anglican worship since 1949 and as a place of community interdenominational worship for over 120 years.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The Church of St Alban reflects representative aspects of New Zealand history. The Church was built in a period where the permanent infrastructure of St Bathans, as with other small gold mining towns in Central Otago, was still developing. Such towns in the latter part of the nineteenth century were still characterised by many temporary structures dating from the first flush of the gold rush period in the mid-1860s. St Alban's Church is a prefabricated structure and is representative of the kind of buildings that were first erected, particularly in areas like Central Otago where timber was scarce. Few of these structures survive.

In addition the Church, provided by absentee runholder Frederick Dalgety, provides an illustration of the significant role that these individuals played in the community, as a key figure in the district. In addition, the long term role of the stock and station agents, Dalgety and Company, played in the care of the building shows the wider part that these commercial concerns played in rural communities.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The Church has outstanding significance in its over 120 year association with the Dalgety Company and its founder, an association still recalled although Dalgety's as such has been absorbed into Wrightson's.

St Alban's was donated to the St Bathans community by Frederick Gonnerman Dalgety, company founder and owner of the nearby Hawkdun run. Dalgety, Canadian by birth, founded the Dalgety Company in the 1850s, and also developed extensive pastoral interests in New Zealand. The Company developed into one of the most significant stock and station agencies in Australasia. Dalgety, and after his death his son and the company representatives, owned St Alban's until 1949. The Company has maintained links with the Church for over 120 years.

St Alban's is also associated with station manager William Burnett. Burnett was manager and looked after the church for over twenty years. He was an important local figure, and a later mayor of Dunedin.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place

The St Bathan's community holds St Alban's Church in high esteem. This is shown through the ongoing community involvement in the restoration work on the building. It is also indicated by the high attendance in centennial celebrations and the ongoing commitment to the building.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

The technical values of the Church have special significance. The Church is an example of the technology of prefabrication that developed in mid nineteenth century England, associated with the corrugated iron industry in that country. St Alban's is important as a later nineteenth century example of this building type, illustrating the more practical and utilitarian structures that were common at that time, and which were built where quick cheap construction was required.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

St Alban's is outstanding as a rare prefabricated corrugated iron church building. Enquiries to date failed to identify any other examples in New Zealand (although it is possible that the Category I former Union Church in Naseby (1865), also a corrugated iron clad structure could be such a building, but this has not been substantiated). Internationally these types of structures are recognised as significant heritage, and at risk as the number of surviving examples decrease with demolition and abandonment. That it has its original furnishings, bibles and prayer books adds to its outstanding importance.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

St Alban's Church is an important element in the outstanding historic landscape associated with St Bathans. This area is recognised for its range of remnant buildings from the gold mining period, as well as the spectacular surrounding landscape which bears the scars of the years of hydraulic mining.

Summary of Significance

The Church of St Alban the Martyr is worthy of Category I registration due to its outstanding historical, architectural and technological importance. The prefabricated corrugated iron Church, sent to New Zealand in kitset form in 1883 by runholder and founder of the stock and station agency Dalgety and Company, is outstanding as a rare surviving example of this typical nineteenth century British technology. The Church represents the kind of temporary building typical of the architecture of the early goldfields towns, but of which few examples survive. The building is much valued by the community, being the centre of worship for 120 years, and has had a similarly long association with the Dalgety Company.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The town of St. Bathans is best known for its history of gold mining and the Blue Lake that formed in the huge 'Glory Holel' left by the town's largest mine. Gold mining in Central Otago began with Gabriel Read's discovery of gold in Gabriel's Gully, near present-day Lawrence, in 1861. Gold was quickly discovered in other parts of the region, including places such as Arrowtown and Queenstown, and in 1863, at St. Bathans, leading to the birth of the town. First known as Dunstan Creek, the name was changed to St. Bathans in 1866, after St. Bathans in the islands of Iona in Scotland, famous from the time of early Christians. At the height of the rush, the population in the area numbered around 2,000, with thirteen hotels catering to local demands during the 1860s. The town had two banks, a police station, courthouse, jail, hospital and many businesses.

The establishment of formal religious services was an important community concern in 1860s St Bathans. The gold rush brought a huge influx of people, and building churches marked the establishment of a settled community. The town's first Protestant church was erected in November 1865, but this structure, paid for with public subscriptions totalling £180, reputedly blew down in a gale the day after it opened. This was quickly replaced with the Union Church, but this too had its roof blown off, either in 1870, or, according to Nicolson-Garrett, 'at the close of the '70s'. After this, the public school in the main street was used for services.

William Burnett (1843-1923), then manager of the nearby Hawkdun Station, informed his employer, absentee runholder and British resident Frederick Dalgety of the loss of the church. Dalgety arranged to have a structure prefabricated in Britain and sent to Burnett, instructing that the church should be erected on Hawkdun for the benefit of his staff 'or adjacent thereto', whichever would 'prove of the greatest benefit to the inhabitants and the rising generation.' The package arrived 'complete with felt insulation and match lining, as well as Bibles, prayer books and little wooden chairs.' Such benevolent concern for the moral well being of the community was consistent with the practice of nineteenth century stock and station agents to cultivate goodwill in communities. Simon Ville writes that such gifts established and strengthened the position of an agent in the district, creating a sense of obligation and willingness to enter into a 'reciprocal relationship.'

Canadian born Frederick Gonnerman Dalgety (1817-1894) was the founder of the company that would develop into Dalgety and Co. one of the larger firms in the rural mercantile trade in Australasia. Dalgety arrived in Australia in 1834, starting as a clerk at a merchant firm, rapidly developed his own business. In 1854 he moved to London to establish the headquarters of a 'metropolitan-colonial enterprise' focused mainly on the Victorian pastoral industry. A Dunedin office of the firm opened in 1859. When he died in March 1894 he left at least seven pastoral stations in New Zealand valued at £160,000. The Australian Dictionary of Biography notes that Dalgety's importance was 'this role in the development of large-scale facilities for financing and organising the production and marketing of rural produce. He was one of the first merchants to see clearly the potentiality and needs of the squatters, and to exploit the mercantile and financial resources of Britain for the growing requirements of the Australian economy.' With such holdings in New Zealand, and the branches of Dalgety's in Dunedin and Christchurch by 1860, Dalgety's later, in combination with the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company Ltd, established as the 'largest pastoral combine in the antipodes.' Dalgety purchased Run 227, the Hawkdun Run, in 1868, and also owned the adjoining Run 228.

In August 1883 a quarter acre section was purchased from the Crown for £7 10s, in Dalgety's name, and the new church erected there. The later Deed of Consecration states that 'erected on the said piece of land was an Iron Church, felt and timber lined, which together with Chairs, Bibles, Prayer Books and other accessories, the said Frederick Gunnerman [sic] Dalgety, at that time the owner of Hawkdun Station near St Bathans, had on or about the 28th day of December 1882 caused to be despatched from England to William Burnett, Manager of Hawkdun Station, with instructions for the building to be erected on a freehold site and used for the benefit of the residents and the rising generation of St Bathans and Districts.'

Rev. G. Fynes-Clinton, vicar of the Dunstan district, preached the first sermon. The church, known as the Dalgety Church and also the Mission House, was open to all denominations (provided they did not interfere with Anglican worship), and was often visited by the Presbyterian minister Dr. Alexander Don.

A bell weighing about 20 kilograms was installed at a cost of £10 at a later date. An organ was bought for £28 10s. Robert Renwick, the Sunday School instructor, led the church choir assisted by his daughter Mary, who was the organist for the church for twenty years. For many years the Hawkdun station manager G.E. Allen acted as lay-reader to first Anglican minister Reverend Williams of Naseby.

The Church, which was known as The Mission House and as the Dalgety Church, was built as an Anglican Church; it was a private church not officially part of the Diocese until the title was transferred until 1949, although the issue of the Church acquiring title was raised earlier than that. Burnett gave his permission for the Church to be used by other denominations provided that there was no clash with Anglican arrangements. This was not without its problems. As Anglican historian R.T. Hunt writes: 'perhaps it was a mistake to run separate services in the Mission House, for it has been said that at one time at least, there was no great loss of love between the Anglicans and the Presbyterians there. If one put up decorations in the church the other would pull them down.'

William Burnett continued to play an active role in the church, maintaining the grounds and providing improvements, while Dalgety paid the rates and insurance. Burnett was an important local identity, serving on the Maniototo County Council as well as many clubs and societies. He was elected Mayor of Dunedin in 1911. He had worked for the Dalgety Company in the London Office, before coming out to first Australia and then New Zealand in the 1860s, and was associated with the Dalgety family through marriage. He bought into various pastoral properties in both the North and South Islands. He returned to England before settling once again in New Zealand, appointed station manager by Dalgety in 1878. After Frederick Dalgety's death in 1894 the title of the church was transferred to his son Frederick John Dalgety, along with Herbert Horatio Nelson, also known as Viscount Trafalgar, Algernon Fawkes, and Edmund Doxat (a partner in Dalgety's London firm). All these four were resident in Britain, and also had a Grant of Right to take water from the Scandinavian Water Race Company. William Burnett, Dalgety's friend as well as employee, mourned his passing: 'He was the last of the British Merchant Princes - men who did more to build up the Empire than all the statesmen, soldiers & [sic] sailors of our country.'

An article in the Otago Daily Times points out that after William Wilson took over the Hawkdun Run in 1900, the same caretaking relationship with the church continued for the next fifty years until the transfer of title to the Diocese.

By the 1930s mining in the town declined. Many of the town's men were employed working the Kildare Lead in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the 1920s it was worked with a hydraulic elevator that was elevating the deepest lift (approximately 68 metres) in the world for its time. However, by 1934, the mine (also known as the Glory Hole) was abandoned as the local council was concerned that further excavations would endanger St Bathans' main street and buildings, located less than 100 metres away. The huge hole created where Kildare Hill once stood eventually flooded, forming the Blue Lake. Mining operations ceased after the 1930s and as the population dwindled buildings were either demolished or moved elsewhere.

In 1949 the title for the land and church was transferred to the Dunedin Diocesan Trust Board and the name St. Alban the Martyr given.

A memorial plaque was presented to the Anglican Bishop of Dunedin, the Rt. Rev. Peter Mann and the Rev. Canon D.J.B. Dorman of the Maniototo parish by Dalgety New Zealand Ltd on 30 March 1976. Canon Dorman held a service in the church in September of that year when he erected the plaque in the porch.

From the early 1980s the Maniototo Parochial District was no longer able to financially support a resident vicar, and monthly services were taken by visiting clergy, with oversight from Canon W. Gaudin of the Dunstan parish.

Church of St Alban the Martyr celebrated its centenary in 1983. In that year maintenance and restoration was carried out. The building was painted, and recognising the hundred year association with the Church, Dalgety's donated floor coverings, an altar cloth, an altar rail and cross. The Omakau District Lions Club restored the 100 old chairs. The event was celebrated with a banquet attended by 160 people, and a church service attended by 300 people led by a former Anglican Archbishop of New Zealand, Most Rev. A.H. Johnston. The celebration was attended by Charles Dalgety and his son Frederick Dalgety, Frederick Dalgety's grandson and great grandson respectively, as well as representatives of the Dalgety company.

A conservation report was prepared for the building by conservation architect Chris Cochran in July 1999. In 2000 restoration work, was carried out, with part of the rotten subfloor and floor replaced, and a stone wall erected along the road frontage. Wrightsons, the company with which Dalgety's merged in 1986, contributed $5000 towards the overall costs of $20,336. Other funding was provided from the St Bathans Lodge No. 126, the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust, the St. Bathans Community Trust, the Upper Manuherikia Young Farmers Club, the Maniototo Community Trust, the Community Trust of Otago and the Lotteries Board, demonstrating the significance of the Church to the St. Bathans community and its wider environs.

In 2006 occasional services are still held by a visiting minister from the Maniototo Anglican parish.

Physical Description

The Church of St Alban the Martyr is located on a prominent site above the main street through the centre of the tiny Central Otago settlement of St Bathans. The Church sits on a grassy slope lined with trees. There is a stone wall at the road edge. The Church is reached through a small gate at the bottom of the hill.

The Church is a small timber framed building clad on the walls and roof with corrugated iron. The main part of the building is c. 9.2m long and 5.5m wide. The gable runs in an east-west direction. There is a small porch on the north side elevation, and a small vestry at the west end, each with gable roofs. It would appear that the vestry was the original entry porch for the Church, and that the current porch was added at a later date, using the original windows and doors from the vestry in its construction.

The building is of portal frame construction. The walls and roof cladding to the main body of the Church and Vestry are fixed, with gutter bolts at both horizontal and vertical laps, with pan screw fixings to the wall frame whalers and bottom plates. The implication of this construction technique is that the cladding was fitted prior to the fitting interior linings.

There is a small bell tower to the north west of the vestry. The bell tower is an open-sided structure, with four supporting legs, square in plan, with a hipped corrugated iron roof. The c.600mm cast brass bell hangs in the shelter of the roof. The bell mechanism is fitted with a rope pull wheel and has a centrally fixed brass clapper plus an ancillary clapper mounted independently to enable the bell to be rung without being rocked. The bell tower would appear to have been erected later as the trademark on the iron is Redcliffe, a brand of iron manufactured by Lysaght after 1897. No maker's mark is visible on the bell.

According to conservation architect Chris Cochran the sub-floor framing is timber, with the bearers resting on a stone foundation. The framing, flooring and lining is Baltic Pine. The floor is tongue and groove boarding, while the walls and ceiling are lined with 162mm tongue and groove boards fixed vertically. The boards are painted.

Windows on either side of the nave light the interior. There are two on the north elevation, and three on the south elevation. The vestry has two small windows, and the porch, a single window. The nave windows each have two six-pane casements set within a rectangular frame. The casements have a Gothic-shaped fanlight above. Some of the casements are fixed, and some opening. There was originally a large east facing window, but this has been covered over.

A pair of doors provide entrance from the porch into the nave. The inside of these doors is finished with the original varnish work.

The interior is still furnished with the original chairs, Bibles and prayer books provided with the prefabricated kit.

According to Chris Cochran the alterations to the Church have been “remarkably few given its age, and none have altered the form of the building.” The known alterations are: the covering of the large east facing window on the outside with corrugated iron and on the inside with modern sheet material; the removal of the original roof decorative roof ridging, a small portion of which still exists and has been kept in storage; the east wall of the interior has been lined inside with modern material (the original still may exist beneath the lining); the vestry used to have doors opening into the nave; the skirting in the nave and possibly the dado rail. The original skirting was probably the same as that in the chancel.

Comparative Analysis

The Church was prefabricated in England and shipped to New Zealand. According to English sources prefabricated corrugated iron churches and mission halls were built from about the mid 1800s onwards. They were often referred to as “Tin Tabernacles”. They were built as temporary accommodation quickly and cheaply, and were often dismantled and moved to new locations so one building may have served several communities. Many were prefabricated kits. In some areas of England, for example County Durham, they were constructed to meet the demands of the increasing number of miners and their families who moved into the area during the huge expansion of the coal mining industry in the late nineteenth century. Many of the structures have already disappeared, and they are increasingly recognised as unique heritage buildings.

The prefabricated building industry developed in London, Bristol and Manchester in the mid 1800s. According to writer Stuart Thomson, by the late 1840s Edward Bellhouse, a leading Manchester engineer was making prefabricated buildings and became a major supplier to the gold rushes in California, where the buildings could be easily packaged and transported. Similarly in gold rush stricken Australia in the 1850s, and also to Brazil and Chile, where he sold railway buildings. By 1853 Samuel Hemming of Bristol was offering a range of prefabricated buildings, ranging from churches to houses, and had developed a market to Australia and New Zealand. The prefabricated kitset building boomed until the 1900s. Smith mentions prefabricated churches being sent to New Zealand but does not provide any examples.

In New Zealand the Camphouse (built 1855) is the oldest known prefabricated corrugated iron structure. It is a timber framed, corrugated iron clad building with a half round military roof located on Mount Taranaki. It was designed by Captain Clarke of the Royal Engineers, prefabricated in Australia, and shipped to New Zealand in 1856. It formed part of the military barracks complex on Marsland Hill in New Plymouth which housed troops during the wars in Taranaki. It was dismantled in 1891 and shifted up the mountain, where it has since been used for tourist accommodation. The Camphouse is registered as a Category I historic place (record number 7233). The earliest corrugated iron clad church would appear to be the former Union Church in Naseby, in Central Otago, constructed in 1865, and used since the 1870s as the Naseby Athenaeum registered as a Category I historic place (record number 4369).

According to Nick Thomson and Phil Banfill, writing in the Journal of Architectural Conservation, the prefabricated buildings were generally constructed on a timber framework and often prefabricated in sections. The wall linings were frequently tongued and grooved match boarding, and the floors were typically timber. The corrugated sheets were fixed with spikes to timber purlins, or bolted to iron. Sheet thicknesses of 16 to 22 Birmingham Wire Gauge were generally used in the United Kingdom, while thinner sheets of 24 and 26 gauge were exported to the colonies. The buildings included decoration, which was applied at openings, gables and ridges. Insulation was felt, and ventilators were installed on the roof. The majority of manufacturers produced churches in Gothic style.

According to English author on the subject of tin tabernacles, Ian Smith, St Alban's is very similar to those found in the United Kingdom, and similar buildings are also found in other former British Empire territories like South Africa (where a couple are recognised as heritage items), and Australia. He writes that there were at least 6 big engineering companies offering these buildings from about 1860s onwards, along with hotels, billiard rooms, hospitals and the like, all out of corrugated iron. Church buildings were priced from less than £100 for a small building to more than £500 for a building that would hold 900 people. Some of these companies would design and build the church on their own premises before dismantling for shipment with detailed plans for re-erection on the customer's site. Smith estimates that there are probably about 100 of these buildings surviving in the United Kingdom. Some were bought as kits, and other would have been built by local craftsmen using similar buildings as models. He estimates that most of the tin tabernacles will be gone within the next twenty years, other than the five or six in heritage museums.

Gilbert Herbert writes that those prefabricated structures designed in the middle of the century were the high peak of design, with inventive design and meticulous workmanship, by the 1880s such buildings were considered 'commonplace and unspectacular', and marked by a return to a 'simplistic, even primitive approach.' He describes a catalogue for manufacturer Braby's 1889 catalogue where the prefabricated structures were timber framed (or cast iron, or rolled H-sections) and where there were many examples of internal lining of tongue and groove boarding, inodorous felt thermal insulation, and ventilation with either dormers or a gable vent. This description is very similar to the construction of St Alban's Church. He described this design as 'traditional British workmanship and engineering at its very best' and also an 'indication of that late-nineteenth-century caution that gave the end of the Victorian era a different stamp in comparison with the vitality, ingenuity, and bravura displays of virtuosity of the mid-century', the late nineteenth century prefabricated timber framed buildings expressed a utilitarian directness, not seen in the earlier designs.

Herbert discusses the use of imported prefabricated structures in the nineteenth century mining communities of South Africa. The descriptions have direct relevance to the Otago experience. There was a need for immediate shelter in the hostile environment with few resources available locally, and where the few skilled tradespeople were already busy. Herbert says that 'partial or total prefabrication was the logical response.'

Thomson and Banfill analyse the cultural significance of corrugated iron buildings internationally, noting that in Australia they were seen as an expression of 'simple thrifty survival in the bush' and an important element in the landscape; likewise in South Africa there were towns of corrugated iron, where 'demountability and portability were key requirements.' In the Scottish Highlands and islands corrugated iron represented 'an aspect of regional character in terms of aesthetic quality, design innovation, social history, industrial development, associations with particular foundries, and preservation of structures that would otherwise been lost.' Often the buildings were recognised as expressing 'vernacular simplicity', particularly in a weathered state. They consider that the production of corrugated iron was part of the industrialisation of the building industry in the nineteenth century that made possible 'new direction in building.' The kit buildings 'satisfied the needs of a changing society, helped stimulate development, and provided accommodation economically, speedily, and in the absence of a skilled workforce.' They considered that corrugated iron buildings contribute to the character of an area, and that they contribute in their 'aesthetic qualities of form, texture, and colour; its expression of design innovation[;] the representation of social change, including pioneering settlement, church secession, and housing reform, the evidence of industrial history and the development of prefabrication and associated trade; and the historical connections with certain manufacturers.' They considered the buildings at risk, and that very few would remain in twenty years.

Miners in Otago also used corrugated iron as a quickly erected cheap material for temporary buildings including churches. The Naseby Union Church (1867), is one such example and its importance is recognised by its Category I registration (registered as the Naseby Athenaeum, Record Number 4369). Hardwicke Knight in his survey of church building in the Otago region identifies nine churches in Otago which were constructed of corrugated iron. No others were identified as prefabricated, and not all survive. Churches at Cambrians (1870, Knight, p.110.), and Hamiltons (c.1863 Knight p.143.) were representative of the kind of simple structure erected as temporary churches.

The Church of St Alban the Martyr is outstandingly significant as a prefabricated structure representing the typical 'tin tabernacle' building type being erected in England during this period, a building type increasingly rare in that country, and perhaps the only example known in New Zealand.

Notable Features

Building, bell tower, chairs, bibles, prayer books.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1882 -

1989 -
Restoration. Guttering, barge boards and window frames repaired, exterior repainted.

2000 -
Further restoration.

Construction Details

Prefabricated construction: Corrugated iron with timber framing and timber joinery.

Completion Date

7th February 2007

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Australian Dictionary of Biography

Australian Dictionary of Biography

R.M. Hartwell, 'Dalgety, Frederick Gonnerman (1817-1894)', Volume 4, Melbourne University Press, 1972, pp.4-5.

Australian Historical Archaeology

Australian Historical Archaeology

Miles Lewis, 'The Diagnosis of Prefabricated Buildings', 3, 1985, pp.56-69.

Cowan, 1948

Janet. C. Cowan, Down the Years in the Maniototo: A Survey of the Early History of Maniototo County and Naseby Borough, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Whitcombe and Tombs, Dunedin, 1948

Gilkison, 1978

R. Gilkison, Early Days in Central Otago Whitcoulls, Christchurch, 1978

Herbert, 1978

Gilbert Herbert, Pioneers of Prefabrication: The British Contribution in the Nineteenth Century, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1978

Hunt, 1973

R.T. Hunt, Anglicans in the Maniototo 1873-1973, Maniototo Parish Council, Ranfurly, 1973

Nicolson-Garrett, 1977

G. Nicolson-Garrett, St. Bathans, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1977

Smith, 2006

Ian Smith, Tin Tabernacles: Corrugated Iron Mission Halls, Churches & Chapels of Britain, Camrose Organisation, Pembroke, on accessed 19 July 2006

Journal of Architectural Conservation

Journal of Architectural Conservation

Nick Thomson and Phil Banfill, 'Corrugated-Iron Buildings: An Endangered Resource within the Built Heritage', No. 1 March 2005

Conservation Plan

Conservation Plan

Chris Cochran, 'St Alban's Church, St Bathans, Central Otago, Conservation Report,' 31 July 1999

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.