The Free Church of Scotland congregation in Lochgilphead was formed at the Disruption in 1843 and work began to erect a church building which was opened for worship at the end of February 1844. It was one of the first Free Church buildings in the whole of Scotland. A Free Church congregation has worshipped on this site since that time. The exterior of the building has not changed much since this picture was taken and as we are now in a Conservation Area, the exterior must be conserved. We don't know the date of the postcard, but the style of clothes worn by the young gentlemen at Manse Brae corner help to indicate its age, as does the old style lamp post.
The interior of the building was redesigned in 1912. However, it has been in need of further extensive renovation for some time. Work to restore and modernise the building began in 2012 with the replacement of the roof followed by the removal of pews and stripping of internal woodwork and plaster. However, it was not possible to complete the planned renovations at that time and the building has not been in use since then. The congregation has been meeting in a small hall at the rear of the main church building. We are greatly encouraged that attendance at worship has been increasing and the hall is no longer adequate to accommodate the growing congregation and our visitors. We long for our church building to be restored and open again for worship and outreach.
Our church building is not listed, but it is situated in Lochgilphead’s conservation area, so we are restricted in terms of external modernisation.
We are outside the area of the current Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) so we do not qualify for grant assistance from that scheme.
We have appointed an architect, LH Architecture, who has submitted plans to Argyll and Bute Council for necessary permissions for the renovations. We are continuing to work to raise funds to enable to work to move forward.
One very real concern for us is the safety of the 180 year old church bell tower.
The very busy A83 road passes just a few metres from the front of our building. This major trunk road carries a huge volume of heavy goods traffic which may over time have affected the stability of the tower.
A structural survey will be necessary to ascertain the safety of the structure and to advise on what work is needed to ensure it remains safe.
Being in a Conservation Area, removal of the bell tower would not be permitted.