Church Renovation Project - for Congregation and Community
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, and have been granted planning permission from Argyll and Bute Council. We are continuing to work to raise funds to enable to work to move forward. We are almost ready for the work to go out to tender.
We are delighted to report that a structural engineer has surveyed the building including the bell tower and assured us that it is structurally sound. This is a huge relief and has encouraged us to press on with the renovation project. We plan to reinstate the glass in the arched window above the front doors in addition to replacing all the windows in the building. This lovely historic building deserves to be restored and have her doors open once more.
The interior of the church will be a flexible multi- purpose space. Once renovated it would also be a very useful venue for youth and community groups and for town events, as Lochgilphead has no town hall or other large public hall. We are committed to sharing the building for the good of our community and are excited to see how it might be used to help develop community spirit and reduce social isolation and loneliness in our area.