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Bringing Linwood Cemetery Alive!

Earthquake Damage

Unfortunately we can not give you an accurate number of grave monuments and plots damaged during the Sept 2010 – June 2011 Christchurch area earthquakes. There are around 17,000 grave plots with around 6,500 headstones.  We were unable to secure funding for a general damage audit before the earthquakes which would have given us a base line to work from.  We also lost our photographic records in 2009 and had only just started to build them back up.
4th September 2010
There was little visible damage in September 2010.  Some pads had cracked and some monuments were at a slight lean.  The City Council went around the cemetery and did a sterling job in marking grave monuments with tape that they thought unsafe.  It was a very small percentage.  As we didn’t think there would be another earthquake, we just kept an eye on the damage following the aftershocks.
22 February 2011
The damage that  occurred on 4th February was far more visible.
eq-damage-to-main-path-19th-march-2011 New paths and the tar-sealed roads cracked.
b29p382-murray-13th-april-2011-640x480 Plumbing moved; pipes rose from the earth.
b30p17-cunningham-30th-march-2011-full Some of the more noticeable graves especially those that were obelisks, fell.  On a social note, these are usually those of more ‘notable’ people from the history of Christchurch society.
b22p41-mansfield-4th-may-2011-full-640x480 One area didn’t appear to be affected more than another.  From the ground, damage looked almost random.  It may be that access to an arial photograph of the time will show a more defined pattern.  There were only about three areas of liquifaction and 2 of those were relatively small.
What was most sad and surprising about the damage to monuments is that
  • many monuments were smashed and pieces were thrown quite a distance,     b28p149-seay-13th-april-2011-640x480
  • even headstones recently re-pinned were thrown off their pins,    b3p12-hulbert-13th-april-2011-640x480
  • sections of some very large monuments had the appearance of having ‘spun’ apart,    b9p5a-8a-white-13th-april-2011
  • already fragile and disappearing iron work had been smashed.   b32p63-ashby-30th-march-2011-1-640x480
Subsequent Quakes
We have now experienced well over 11,000 quakes in Christchurch and although they are now few and far between, they will probably be a part of our life for many years to come.  We continue to inspect for any new damage but it is very time consuming with the technology available to us and time is short for us as volunteers with the other activities we are engaged in. You can hear a CCC statement on cemetery damage here.
What has been done?
Through the City Council, the ‘Make Safe’ Project was completed for Linwood Cemetery at the end of 2013,
  • pieces have been returned to the correct grave plot,     28th-april-2011-137_112 28th-april-2011-137_114
  • stones have been turned over so they can be read,
  • vulnerable pieces have been ‘hidden’ on the relevant grave plot,
  • the general appearance continues to be kept tidy and cared for by the CCC and Trust volunteers, despite the damage,
  • damage continues to be photographed,
  • restoration and maintenance standards are have been reviewed and new standards for pinning have been adopted.
5602335898_dd93808369_s b14p9-ravenhill-13th-april-2011-640x480 b46p49-clarke-19th-march-2011-full b28p149-seay-13th-april-2011-640x480

© Friends of Linwood Cemetery Charitable Trust

Updated 25th April 2014 and reviewed 30th July 2015 by Alexandra Gilbert