Ceiling collapse reveals Blayney church’s dangerous secret
By David Dixon
It was Blayney’s first Council Chambers in the 1880s and has been variously and reputedly a picture theatre, veterinary practice, carpet shop, pub, and Catholic Church; but now its days appear to be numbered.
Since 1981 the building at 71 Adelaide Street has housed the St James Catholic Church, but a recent accident revealed an ugly truth; the roof of the historic building is totally comprised of asbestos.
The collapse of part of the old Blayney Theatre ceiling during a recent Mass was more than just a rude shock for surprised parishioners; it has now led to all Catholic services being transferred to the St Joseph’s School Hall.
“We moved there in 1981 from the old church because we couldn’t fit all the congregation in; the old church was too small,” Parish Administrator Father Paul Devitt said of the Adelaide Street site. “Also, there was a thought that we should be in the main street where all the other churches were,” he added.
“But then a few weeks ago now; part of the ceiling of the old picture theatre fell through the false ceiling of the church which is of particle board.
“In order to fix the ceiling; the builder used a cherry picker with the idea of taking part of the roof of; but found out it was all ‘super six’ corrugated asbestos,”, Fr Devitt added.
No-one is quite sure when the asbestos was installed but a fire and a major rebuild of the then-movie house in the 1930s may lend a clue.
“It’s been our church for a number of years, but there’s never really been a lot of affection for the building… we’re now holding our services in the old school hall at St Joseph’s that can be accessed via Hill Street and we’ll probably remain up there,” Fr Devitt concluded.