From Derry to Australia and back again

Pictured receiving the 115 year-old ledger that documents the work carried out on St. Eugene's Cathedral, Derry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from left to right, Jim Sammon (Sammon Surveyors), Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown and quantity surveyor, John Stanage, who brought the document all the way back to Derry from Brisbane in Australia. Photo: Stephen Latimer Photography
Pictured receiving the 115 year-old ledger that documents the work carried out on St. Eugene's Cathedral, Derry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from left to right, Jim Sammon (Sammon Surveyors), Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown and quantity surveyor, John Stanage, who brought the document all the way back to Derry from Brisbane in Australia. Photo: Stephen Latimer Photography

This is the tale of how a valuable handwritten ‘Bills of Quantities,’ dated 1900, was rescued from destruction and has completed its journey from Australia back to St. Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry.

Approximately 60 years ago a quantity surveyor named John Falconer-Rainey moved from Derry to Brisbane, Australia.

Little is known about Mr. Falconer-Rainey, except that he once lived at 16 Nicholson Terrace, almost in sight of St. Eugene’s Cathedral.

John carried the document with him so it must have been important to him. John Rainey established the practice of JHB Rainey which later became Rainey & Lincoln. He retired from the practice in the mid-1980’s and died in 2005, aged 86.

The story then moves to Albert Moore, a quantity surveyor from Belfast, who emigrated to Australia with his family about 40 years ago and went to work for Rainey & Lincoln.

When the office closed in the mid-1990s Albert helped to sort through the paperwork which was to be destroyed. When Albert found the handwritten document he recognised its importance and wisely decided to keep it safe.

Enter John Stanage, himself a well-travelled quantity surveyor, having worked in England, Oman and the USA. John had worked with Albert in Belfast. When the two old friends met in Brisbane in 2010 they had not seen each other for some 40 years. Over dinner, Albert told John the story of the document he had rescued and in turn John promised to see if there was anyone interested in having it returned.

Through chance and fate, John met Derry based quantity surveyor, Jim Sammon, who directed John to the Bishop of Derry, Rev. Dr. Dónal McKeown, who was delighted to receive the document last Thursday.

Handwritten in copperplate script it contains fine sketches of the traceried stone and other stone details.

The document comprises detailed descriptions of the work with each item quantified and priced in £sd.

The architect was Edward J. Toye, Derry and was assisted by George Coppinger Ashlin, Dublin, with the contract being award to Courtney & Co from Belfast.

Work on the belfry and spire began on August 13, 1900 and the last stone was placed on the 256 ft (78m) spire on June 19, 1903. The final cost was £11,709.

The document will be preserved in the Diocesan Archive.