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Roof Restoration Project

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Church Open Days

When I travel, I take particular pleasure in visiting many churches, to admire their architecture or simple beauty and to have a quiet time of contemplation. Among the highlights in Scotland have been St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney, Dunkeld Cathedral and the tranquility of Fortingall and Balquidder. It is a shame that so many of our city churches are closed up most of the week.

As part of our agreement with the Heritage Lottery Fund we have agreed to open the church on occasions, initially around once per month, and on special days, such as the canal festival and Doors Open Day. This fits well with our aspirations to be a welcoming church and to encourage its use by the local community. We require volunteers to act as guides/stewards. We also hope to sell souvenirs and serve tea, coffee and biscuits. There will be the greatest flexibility of how often and when folk help out and no one will ever be left on their own in the church.

If you ae interested in helping or would like more information please sign the sheet in the vestibule or call John Pears (762 1205) or Jen Biggans (578 0586)

Our Church building has Grade 2 listing and is one of the largest public spaces in East Dumbartonshire. It has stood against the weather for over a century. Not surprisingly it was in need of extensive renewal of some of the fabric despite the program of weather proofing undertaken by the congregation over the last decade.

In December 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), including Historic Environment Scotland (HES), awarded £225,000 to restore the roof and structure. This added to the £200,000 raised by the congregation and Friends of St Mary’s enabled the work to be undertaken that will keep our sanctuary secure for many years into the future, commencing in March 2017.

Press release Dec 2015

Together these sums of money have enabled us to renovate the church roof, replace the tiled roof aisle areas with Scottish slate, as they were originally, and replace all of the rain water goods with cast iron items, again as original. Once the building is weather proofed, as it now nearly is, we can begin the task of transforming the interior space, revealing the beauty of the wood and stone work and the stained glass windows. It will also greatly facility the plans to create a modern community space for the town. Our engagement activities include the creation of interpretation boards, used during guided tours of the church, learning resources to encourage links with young people in our community through local schools and this updated website, all enabling wider access to the beauty and identity of St Mary’s Parish Church.

Without the help and support of both Heritage Lottery Funding and Historic Environment Scotland, we would not have been able to undertake the magnitude of work that our church required to make it wind and watertight. Throughout the project, HLF have been extremely supportive. Initial meetings with them were focused, informative and helpful and this enabled us to plot our way through the myriad of details which we had to consider both applying for funding and planning and undertaking the actual physical works.  Our link person at HLF (Katherine Wynn) has indeed been a “Godsend” to us. No question has been too trivial and her advice has always been pertinent and useful and given willingly, for which we thank her very much indeed.

We hope those attending the church and organisations are not greatly inconvenienced by the ongoing works but ask for your patience and understanding during them.

Our freshly repaired roof was dedicated at the service on Sunday 3rd December.

Here are some pictures from the work


You can’t just “shin up to roof” on this building!


Some stretches of roof needed complete retiling

Rotten wood

Some of the woodwork was gey saire but it had been there a fel time

Some little horror stories

Inside and out

Not sure there was meant to be a skylight there…

And joists, what joists?

and laths; remember these? (Actually my father-in-law was a lather. Didn’t do much of that post-war)

New wood old

Rotten wood was replaced where needed. Much was still sound but most important was good, strong, new felt.

“Might need a wee bit of work here”




The stonework of the church is truly beautiful

Tricky work

The flashings were in a bad way and not the easiest to access but instn’t the finished work superb? Almost worth a guided tour up there to admire. Not me though!

Acres of slates


The slate work had to be restored to “as new” appearance

Major renewal

Some areas were worse than others/ This part of the roof neede near total replacement


or “roans” as we would know them. No PVC cladding here; These were to be restored as original. Admire the craftmanship!


Some more pictures of the massive felting and reslating works

More slates

I like this sequence on one of the side roofs

Work at the very top

I get dizzy just looking at these!

Nearly there

The renewed slates look so fresh – as good as new

002and the disruption was a lot less and a lot shorter than for the she streetscape outside!

And finally

Some pictures from the lunch after the service of December 3rd when the roof was celebrated and dedicated

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About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, HLF invest in every part of our diverse heritage.

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