Church lands £200,000 lottery windfall

St Mary's Church
St Mary's Church

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Historic Environment Scotland (HES), have awarded £208,000 to restore the roof and structure of the Grade B listed St Mary’s Church in Kirkintilloch.

The project aims to undertake urgent restoration works to the roofs of the chancel and main structure, as well as repairing guttering and drainage, and restoring external masonry.

Work on the chancel roof will complete a weatherproofing programme that St Mary’s congregation committed to over a decade ago.

Once the building is rainproof, St Mary’s can then begin the task of transforming its interior spaces: revealing the beauty of its woodwork, stonework and its stained glass windows and unlocking the stories that underpin its identity.

The church’s engagement activities include the creation of interpretation boards, which will be used during guided tours of the church, learning resources which church leaders hope will further encourage links with young people in the community through local schools and an updated website that will enable wider access to the beauty and identity of St Mary’s Parish Church.

It is proposed that the works to St Mary’s Parish Church will commence on March 13.

St Mary’s is the most commanding building in Kirkintilloch and its Grade B listing highlights its significance to our national heritage.

The building was completed in 1914 and its impressive bell tower reflects the importance of the town as a transportation hub, inland port, and production centre for iron, coal, nickel, and even small ships. This industrial heritage lives on in the town’s designation as the ‘Canal Capital of Scotland’, and in the redevelopment of the canal and surrounding former industrial sites in the early 21st century.

As a place of worship and a focus for civic ceremonies, St Mary’s Parish Church offers one of the largest public spaces in East Dunbartonshire. In addition, the building provides a focal point for the local community, hosting a wide range of community activities including concerts and other events that each year attracts thousands of people into this important building.

This well-loved church is a real focal point in the town and it’s so important that we preserve and share its long and fascinating history.

Rev Mark Johnstone, Minister of St Mary’s Parish Church, said: “This is very good news for Kirkintilloch as St Mary’s has long played a key role in the life of the town.

“It will be wonderful to complete the long task of repairing the roofs and restoring the structure.

“The church can then turn its attention to its plans, to not only renovate the internal spaces of the building, but also to create a 21st-century community space for the town.

“The Heritage Lottery Fund, including Historic Environment Scotland’s, wonderful grant will enable St Mary’s to proceed forward into the delivery phase of our exciting plans.

“We have already raised considerable funds through the efforts of our congregation and the wider community, so I hope and trust that local people and grant-making trusts will continue to get behind our campaign to raise the funds to enable us to complete the next phase of our project for St Mary’s Parish Church, which is to begin the large task of restoring the church’s water-stained interior fabric. New lighting will reveal the beauty of the stone and timber carving inside.

“At the same time we will ensure that the internal spaces of the church are fit for current and future purpose, bringing them in line with the many community activities that we already host.

“A special part of this work will be to create story boards’ and train guides to help to release the history and development of Kirkintilloch for our local people and our schools, unlocking the many stories preserved in the church.”

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Scotland’s historic and diverse places of worship are so often at the heart of our communities. Thanks to National Lottery players HLF funds urgent structural repairs and also improved facilities and visitorinformation.

“St Mary’s Parish Church of Scotland, Kirkintilloch restoration project is an excellent example of how HLF can help conserve a much loved building so it can continue to serve its local community.”