25th July 2020

In_pictures Modernist ruin given away by Catholic church after years of decay

In_pictures Modernist ruin given away by Catholic church after years of decay

In_pictures

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Media captionArtist Angus Farquhar gives a tour of St Peter’s Seminary

The ownership of an A-listed modernist building which the Catholic Church has been trying to get rid of for years has been transferred to a charitable trust.

Last year, the church described St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, near Helensburgh, as an “albatross around our neck” which it could not give away.

The “modernist masterpiece” closed in the 1970s and has seen decades of failed plans to revive it.

The church said the Kilmahew Education Trust would be the new legal owners.

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St Peter’s Seminary was built by modernist architects Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein

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bbc

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The building opened in 1966 and was deconsecrated in 1980

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Alaisdair Smith / NVA

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The seminary was used as a backdrop for a sound and light show called Hinterland by NVA in March 2016

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NVA

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The seminary, which is surrounded by acres of woodland, was built in 1966 as a training college for Roman Catholic priests.

It was designed by Scottish architectural firm Gillespie, Kidd and Coia for the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

Renowned architects Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein supplied the vision for the distinctive zig-zag design and concrete appearance, with internal features such as vaulted ceilings and floating staircases.

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St Peter’s Seminary was built in 1966 as a training college for priests

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The seminary is considered a modernist masterpiece

The structure came to be considered a modernist masterpiece but its working lifetime was short and when the number of trainee priests fell, the seminary was deconsecrated in 1980.

Since then, the building has became degraded by fire, rain and vandalism, but it still regularly attracts visits from architecture students and aficionados from around the world.

Its importance was recognised in 1992 when the seminary was Category A listed by Historic Scotland.

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The inside of the seminary pictured in 2004 before work was carried out to make the area safe

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Angus Farquhar/NVA

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Work has been carried to clear debris and make the building safe but the organisation behind the move went bust

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Angus Farquhar/NVA

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The secluded seminary has been a target for vandalism and graffiti

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Colin Blane

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Some have likened the building to a disused car park but others consider it a classic

The Archdiocese of Glasgow has been trying to find someone to take the building on for decades and last year said it would probably have to remain a ruin.

Director of communications Ronnie Convery told BBC Scotland: “We would literally give it away for nothing but we can’t find anyone to take it off our hands.”

Mr Convery added: “The archdiocese recognises that it has the responsibility to maintain the estate, to keep it secure and provide the proper insurance cover, but as you can imagine it is a huge albatross around our neck.

“We are literally struck, it is an impossible position.

“We can’t sell it, we can’t give it away, we can’t demolish it. We are in a Catch-22 situation.”

The archdiocese now appears to have found a solution.

It has transferred to Kilmahew Education Trust. It said no payment was made as the Archdiocese bequeathed the estate and buildings free of charge to the trust.

Stuart Cotton of the new charitable trust said he was delighted to be the new custodian of “this outstanding and unique heritage asset”.

“We simply need to develop a viable vision, with education at its core, and execute the plans that develop from that to the best of our abilities,” he said.

“We look forward to sharing our initial masterplan in due course and welcoming the public to share our experiences along the way.”

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