Landmark Churches at Risk

Landsdowne Parish ChurchKelvinside Hillhead ChurchThe Heritage Lottery Fund has rejected an application from the Four Acres Charitable Trust for less than £1 million to save and re-vitalise Lansdowne Church on Great Western Road.

Said David Robertson, Project Director at Four Acres: ‘They had six applications totalling £4.5million in front of them at their December meeting. But the Fund had only £1.5 million to give out. We’re in good company, however,’ he added. ‘An application from Glasgow’s St Andrew’s Cathedral on Clyde Street, was also rejected.’

He said it is not the first time the Trust has experienced such a knock-back. ‘We’ve been here before, so we’ll fight on.’ The Trust saved Downhill Church which is now the successful pub/restaurant known as Cottiers.

Roy Henderson, minister of Lansdowne Church of Scotland told the LOCAL NEWS, ‘It is remarkable how well Landsdowne people have taken the news. They are very sanguine about it.’

A major landmark on the skyline at Kelvinbridge, Lansdowne is ‘A’ listed and in need of significant funding for essential repairs and conservation work. The proposal between the congregation and Four Acres Trust was for the Trust to buy the property, obtain grant funding to repair, restore and convert the elegant space for commercial and community use – such as worship for the congregation.

The congregation turned out in force to a public meeting called by Friends of Glasgow West to examine the situation of Church Buildings @ Risk. David Howat speaks for the Friends ad hoc group concerned with Church Buildings @ Risk. He said: ‘Lansdowne and Kelvinside Hillhead Church are among the finest examples of Glasgow’s exceptional Victorian heritage. Their loss would be unthinkable. There is a very real danger either might be lost for ever if a viable and sustainable use cannot be found for them and funding put in place to carry out essential repairs and conservation of important stonework and stained glass.’

He added that the physical condition of both buildings is deteriorating rapidly.

Kelvinside Hillhead church in Observatory Road off Byres Road has a major problem with its roof which was badly damaged by storm a year ago. It had been offered Heritage Lottery Funding but only if the Church of Scotland was prepared to guarantee that the church had a future as a place of worship. That assurance has not been given, so far, so the building’s future is in jeopardy. The interior roof framework has now been seriously affected by the unattended storm damage.

The Friends had called the meeting in Hillhead Library on Wednesday 4 February, to bring attention to the urgency of the situation.

Around 60 people attended on an icy cold evening to hear David Howat, David Martin a conservation and architecture specialist and David Robertson of the Four Acres Trust.

‘There are 165 religious buildings in Scotland on the Civic Trust ‘at risk’ register,’ they were told by David Howat, a solicitor and one of the Friends of Glasgow West. ‘Of these, 25 are ‘A’ listed. And neither Lansdowne nor Kelvinside Hillhead features in the 11 ‘at risk’ in Glasgow.’ He said that such beautiful examples of art and craft were an intrinsic part of the community and irreplaceable parts of the landscape. ‘Each day the dry rot destroys another bit of a building. We wouldn’t let this happen in our close and we shouldn’t let it happen in our churches and communities.’


Said Ann Laird, Chair of Friends of Glasgow West, who chaired the meeting: ‘There is an opportunity for innovative answers. Cottiers is just one example.’ She urged anyone concerned with the spectre of losing such landmark buildings from local neighbourhoods to lobby city Councillors and Members of the Scottish Parliament and Westminster MPs.


  • A challenge to photographers to record the interior of Lansdowne has been made on flickr picture sharing site by The first open day for photographers was on Sunday 8 February.
  • Minister Roy Henderson has a blog on Steeple 208 with some interesting insights into how the congregation and the community might proceed.

St Kentigern’s Medieval Music

Playing a harp strung as it would have been in past times.Ancient music sings out Glasgow’s story

The rare sound of Medieval music in praise of Glasgow’s Patron Saint, St Kentigern, was heard in Glasgow Cathedral in January.

‘It made my hair stand on end just to hear it,’ said Bailie Catherine McMaster, chair of Glasgow City Council’s Local History and archaeology working group who introduced the event. She said: ‘This connects the past with our present and helps us to learn our own story.’

St Kentigern – a sixth century holy man known also as St Mungo – became known as the first bishop of Glasgow and the city’s patron saint. His legendary miracles are remembered in the bird, tree, bell and fish with golden ring, as seen on the city’s coat of arms.

The music was selected from chants of the Office (service) which were composed especially to celebrate his feast day which falls on 13 January. The manuscript which contains this Office is known as the Sprouston Breviary dated around 1300 and is housed in the National Library of Scotland. It is the only known manuscript which contains both the text and the music for his feast.

Known to a limited number of scholars familiar with early editions of the chant texts, it was brought to public attention during the BBC radio series, Scotland’s Music, by John Purser. Following that, Alan and Rebecca Tavener of Cappella Nova commissioned Dr Greta-Mary Hair and Dr Betty Knott-Sharpe to prepare a performing edition of chants from the Kentigern Office for a concert and recording.

The performance in Glasgow Cathedral was given by Canty and Schola Glasguensis – professional Medieval singers and musicians. Canty director, Rebecca Tavener said: ‘Performances of medieval material would not be possible without the tireless expertise and generosity of very special scholars, Dr Greta-Mary Hair who transcribed and edited the music and Dr Betty Knott-Sharpe, editor and translator of the texts.’

Afterwards, Dr Hair told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘It is always gratifying to hear a good, live performance after having worked on the manuscript.’

* The entire Office will be published later this year by Musica Scotica Trust.

Centenary for Shawlands United Reform Church

December 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Churches, Glasgow South, Local News

As the United Reform Church in Shawlands prepares to celebrate 100 years of worship in the same building, an invitation is extended to anyone with connections to the Southside church to get in touch.

Formerly a Churches of Christ congregation, the first service was held on Moss-side Road in 1909 so arrangements have been made to hold several anniversary services next year.

John McGeary, church elder of twenty years said: ‘Many of our past members have moved out of the district but it is hoped we can contact those who either attended or were married in the church to invite them to our special services.’

Alongside the 60- 80 members who regularly worship at the church in Moss Side Road, groups such as mothers and toddlers, painting classes, musical classes and martial arts, regularly use the premises. All are invited to join in the centenary events.

Some of the highlights planned for the coming year include a reunion service on April 25 for members no longer in the area.  Throughout June, July and August the church will be open every Wednesday for private visits and prayer. A Flower Festival on September 19 and 20 will coincide with Doors Open Day which the church will be participating in.

John continued: ‘It is our dearest wish that those who attend a special service will recall many happy memories of their time in the church as a member or attending a wedding or a baptism service or simply as a visitor who joined us for Sunday morning worship.’

To contact John phone 0141 632 4660.


* The United Reform Church is a Christian Church in the tradition of the Reformation and is the union of four established churches; The Congregational Church of England and Wales, The Presbyterian Church of England, The Re-Formed Association of Churches of Christ and The Congregational Union of Scotland.

Study Into Future of Govan Old

November 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Churches, Features, Glasgow South

A £31,000 study into the future of Govan Old Parish Church has been launched.

Heritage and kirk officials are looking into three ideas for the building which is one of Scotland’s most important historic and Christian sites.

A museum, a visitor centre linked to neighbouring business or a performance venue are all being investigated by Govan Workspace which is leading the study.

Worship on the site dates back 1500 years and the church is home to 31 medieval sculptures including the Govan Sarcophagus. The building is currently owned by the Church of Scotland.

Govan Workspace has been behind a number of successful projects in Govan including Six Harmony Row which provides office space to help start-up businesses.

New Govan Church was formed last year when three parishes in the area merged leaving Govan Old Parish Church building vacant.

Dick Carabine, Chairman of Govan Community Council said: ‘I would like to see the church being used for regular worship again. Many were heartbroken when the three parishes merged last year. I would also like to see guided tours being run on a regular basis.’

His thoughts are echoed by local Councillor John Flanagan, who said:  ‘I welcome the proposal to consider the future of Govan Old Parish Church. However, to succeed we must ensure that whatever proposal emerges, the Church retains an element of a ‘Living Church’ because Govan Old is one of the most important Christian sites in Scotland.’

Local Councillor Alison Hunter told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘This is a very good prospect for the area. I would like to see the space used for weddings and conferences – something that would bring more people into the church. It is a fantastic building and deserves greater exposure.’

Pat Cassidy Managing Director of Govan Workspace said: ‘Our overriding concern is that the church and its early medieval sculptures should survive as an entity in Govan where they belong.’

Grant McLennan, a spokesman for the Presbytery of Glasgow said: ‘Currently worship is held in the church once a week. We would wish to continue this. After time, ownership of the church could be passed to a charitable trust.’


* The church was open for Doors Open Day allowing a glimpse of the rare artefacts inside.

** What would you like to see the building used for?

Churches merge

November 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Churches, Glasgow South

Castlemilk Churches

The outgoing and incoming Interim Moderators (centre) and members of the new Castlemilk Church of Scotland.

At a landmark gathering, two churches in Castlemilk amalgamated to become one under Interim Moderator the Revd Iain Goring.

Castlemilk East Church of Scotland in Barlia Terrace and Castlemilk West Parish Church in Carmunnock Road, held their first joint social which attracted a big crowd from both congregations.

Tribute was paid to the outgoing Interim Moderators – Revd Elisabeth Spence and Revd Jeanne Roddick – who were thanked for their hard work. They will return to their own churches. A welcome was extended to the incoming Intrim Moderator. He will be responsible for the pastoral duties and for leading worship at both churches until there is a new building for the combined congregation. From Holytown and New Stevenson churches, Mr Goring will be in Castlemilk for the next two years. He will live in Castlemilk West Parish Church’s manse.

He said: ‘I am happy to be serving the people of Castlemilk. This will be very hard work but I am happy to help bring in the changes that are facing us.’