St Columbkille Roman Catholic Church, Rutherglen

 

In June 2015, the National Churches Trust awarded a £15,000 Community Grant to St Columbkille Roman Catholic Church, Rutherglen towards a project including installation of toilets.

St Columbkille's Roman Catholic church, listed Grade A, was one of the few ecclesiastical buildings completed after the start of WWII, and was designed by architects Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, replacing a smaller church on the site founded in 1851. The new, brick, church was consecrated in 1940. The design is a modern interpretation of Italian Romanesque architecture. It's massive brick façade has five arcaded bays at ground level with tall windows and sculptured stone statues of Christ and the four Evangelists (by Archibald Dawson 1892-1938) set in niches above. Internally the church has a long nave with arcaded aisles terminating in an apse with a Baldacchino at the High Altar, round arched windows and doors.

This is one of the few churches in the Diocese of Motherwell that commands a main street location and as such the refurbishment of this place of worship represents a powerful presence in the town centre, both spiritually to the Parishioners and inhabitants of the Burgh and also in terms of town centre regeneration because of its importance within the local streetscape. The church and church hall, in addition to its various religious activities, actively provides a focal point for numerous community groups, some of which are social (Keep Fit, Crafts Bowls).

"The grant award from the National Churches Trust was of great assistance to the project...The delivery of the church interior as it now appears was in part due to the funding provided by the National Churches Trust."

Brief Project Description: Following a phase involving roof repairs, this extensive project led by architects Page\Park Architects sought to address old and inefficient heating by installing underfloor heating, new lighting, refurbishment of the pews and a PA system. The entrance porch was redesigned with a gathering area and increased security. Disabled toilets, funded by the National Churches Trust, improved existing facilities. A permanent disabled access ramp at the front of the church will be addressed in another phase of works once funds are raised. An official reopening service was held in December 2016.

Project Difficulties: The start was delayed by depleted funding and budgetary constraints following the first phase of repairs. For the parishioners, the programme was probably extended over too long a period of time (albeit for good reasons including budgetary constraints that delayed the start), during which they could not access the building. Although contracted works lasted 8 months, pews were removed sometime before that, at which point services in the building ceased. For the project managers, the most complex part of the works was the installation of a new 340m2 suspended concrete floor in the nave to replace the existing timber one, and into which have been installed heating pipes to create a large thermal mass sufficient to heat the considerable space. 

Project Impacts:

  • Condition of the building improved - with the successful completion of both the first phase, which principally involved the roof, and the second phase, which focussed on the interior, the church refurbishment is virtually complete and the future of the building has been secured for the next 100 years or so. The works and new heating system should help reduce heat loss and energy spend, and the church is no longer a dark, cold or draughty place.
  • Benefited the community - the improvements will encourage access to the adjacent church hall which currently plays a vital role in the local community including Food Bank, community events such as weddings, funerals, First Communions, Baptisms, and as a meeting place venue for the use of various charitable and other organisations.
  • Benefits to both the Catholic and the wider community of Rutherglen cannot be understated - Parishioners and visitors alike can now enjoy a welcoming environment that has been brought up-to-date in terms of accessibility and comfort, through the introduction of new accessible WCs and with improved insulation, a new heating system and modern state-of-the-art lighting.
  • Greater public engagement - the refurbishment of the façade, including the doors, has greatly enhanced the appearance of the church onto the main street.
  • Benefited the congregation and previous/existing users - disabled access ramps are still to be improved and will allow easier and more desirable access to church and surrounding grounds at this significant and central location.