19 FEB 2016

Whiteley Memorial Methodist Church – New Plymouth

Take me to church - Visiting a John Bowering masterpiece.


Words and Photography by Dan Eagle

John Bowering has designed some impressive civic architecture throughout New Zealand, this stunning church in New Plymouth is a prime example. The Whiteley Methodist Church was opened in 1963, replacing the previous version that was destroyed by fire in 1959.

The Bowering designed church is a remarkable structure and a thoroughly modern interpretation of a traditional place of worship. It sits on the corner of Liardet and Courtenay Streets is one of New Plymouth's most significant landmarks.

Bowering was born in England in 1924 and joined the RAF when he was 19. After World War II he studied at the London School of Architecture and in 1948 he married and moved to New Zealand with wife, Peggy.

He practised in Wellington and Palmerston North then moved to New Plymouth where his three children, Douglas, Diana and Claire were born. In 1973 he moved to Whangarei to be near his favourite holiday spot in the Bay of Islands.

A view from the street

An impressive roof line defines the church

Crisp geometric forms span the entrance

Clean lines and textured bricks

The block work detail features inspired 'cross' iconography

The first block was laid in 1961

Even the back of the building is thoughtfully designed

The original church, destroyed by fire in 1959


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