Helensburgh Parish Church, located in Colquhoun Square, is one of the town’s most prominent buildings, extensive building repairs have now been completed.
Owners of older buildings – and particularly in the west of Scotland – face problems in keeping their property in good order, largely because of wet and windy weather. Helensburgh Parish Church has been an example of this, and in 2016 we embarked on a project to restore certain parts of the building.
Thanks to the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund and of Historic Environment Scotland, work was completed at the end of 2016. Each of these organisations contributed £94,000 and the Parish Church itself contributed a further £100,000, giving a grand total of £288,000. The fact that the Church is a B-listed building was an important factor in the award of these grants.
The award from the Heritage Lottery Fund was the last piece in the jigsaw. This was approved on 18 March 2016 and permission to start was received from the Heritage Lottery Fund on 8 June 2016. This enabled the work to commence just twelve days later on 20 June 2016, and was finished by 30 September 2016.
As can be seen from the pictures of scaffolding around the building, most of this restoration work involved the tower and belfry, and in particular re-pointing of stonework, rectification of any rot, and replacement of slates. Work was also be carried out on gutters, downpipes and drains.
Inside the church damaged and uneven stones in the vestibule floor were replaced and some electrical works took place, as well as work on doors.
A number of the stained glass windows were removed for restoration. Some others have also been restored in recent years, meaning the windows have been returned to their former glory.
The church possesses many fine stained-glass windows, and particularly interesting examples are those commemorating former prime minister Bonar Law and television inventor John Logie Baird.
Research is being undertaken into the people who are commemorated in all the stained glass windows in the church – who were they, where did they live, what did they do? This sheds interesting light on the social history of Helensburgh.
Once this research is complete, a booklet/leaflet will be produced, the church website will be updated, and an audio-visual installation will be introduced in the Church to make this information easily accessible.
A major rebuild of the church halls was completed earlier this year, and is proving of great benefit not just to the congregation, but also to the wider community. Rev David T Young, minister of Helensburgh Parish Church, speaking in 2016, said that “the restoration work currently taking place, together with the new church halls, will ensure that members of the Church of Scotland in Helensburgh will have an appropriate place for worship for many years to come. The generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund and of Historic Environment Scotland is making a major contribution towards this.”