In our previous post, we presented a photograph of circa 1872 which shewed progress on the building of the present Saint Mary's Cathedral (commenced in 1866).
This photograph is taken from a similar angle, also looking north-east across Hyde Park. The photograph was taken in the year 1882 or 1883. It shews the facade of the old Cathedral juxtaposed with the first stage of new Saint Mary's.
In this photograph we see that the walls of the new Cathedral have risen significantly - although slowly - over the period of ten years. In our age, when all buildings are completed in a relatively short space of time, it is a helpful reminder that it was not always so. Work on the new Saint Mary's Cathedral was done carefully and could only proceed as funds permitted. There was no bank loan to build the Cathedral, no giant bequests, no corporate funding; for the most part, it was built by the small, but steady giving of Catholics in Sydney and beyond.
The first stages of construction (1866-1882) consisted of ground preparation and the construction of the massive foundations, the construction of the Northern (sanctuary) end, together with the sacristies, the transepts, two bays of the nave and the roofing-over thereof. That was considered sufficient for the needs of the Archdiocese and realistic in terms of what could be afforded.
After the death of Archbishop John Bede Polding OSB in 1877, the new Archbishop, Roger Bede Vaughan OSB focussed a great deal of his attention on the building of the Cathedral. In 1880, with the advice of the architect, William Wardell, he embarked on goal to bring the Cathedral to a temporary stage where it could be opened to the Faithful and used for Divine worship.
It is this stage of completion that we see depicted in our photograph. It consists of the walls up to (but not including) the clerestory windows. A temporary roof of galvanised iron protecting the completed stonework, whilst a timber scaffold over the top of this roof permitted further construction to continue. Inside, all the floors, the stone pillars and their arches, together with the lower-level windows had been completed. The High altar had been completed - a donation covering its cost - and filling the windows with stained glass commenced.
In September 1882, with three days of grand liturgical celebrations, this stage of the Cathedral was blessed and opened. Sadly, Archbishop Vaughan did not live long to delight in the new building. He left on a journey to Rome in April 1883, but died after his arrival in England aged 49.
Click on the image for an enlarged view.