St Joseph’s Roman Catholic church, Blantyre, Scotland


In December 2014, the National Churches Trust awarded a £40,000 Cornerstone Repair Grant to St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Blantyre in Scotland towards urgent roof and stonework repairs.

The looms and colliery are now a distant memory in Blantyre but St Joseph’s Roman Catholic church is a prominent landmark standing tall on the main road. Designed by the Pugin & Pugin family firm in 1905, the church is a rectangular Gothic-style church made from a bull-faced red sandstone and detailed with ashlar dressings. The church has a 7-bay nave and pillared side aisles, a Carrara marble altar and Caen stone reredos.

In April 2013 St Joseph’s underwent a full fabric survey which identified the need for urgent repairs to the roof and stained glass windows. In 2014 the church made a successful application to the National Churches Trust for a grant of £40,000, having already raised £558,148 toward the building work from local and national grant-giving bodies including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and Viridor Credits.

Project Description: Work included re-slating the roof, restoring stained glass and renewing the leadwork in the windows, and minor stone and pointing repairs. The wider project also saw the installation of stained glass windows commemorating the Blantyre Colliery mining disaster of 1877 which killed 215 miners, of whom 115 were parishioners.

Project Challenges: Raising funds for repairs took longer than expected in part because the total project cost estimate rose by £81,889 during the investigation stage as rot was uncovered when the roofs were stripped of tiles. Poor weather and some incidents of lead theft further delayed progress.

As with all conservation projects, particularly churches in use, the main issue is raising a total funding package for the project and on this occasion your grant was a major part of this – Project Architect

Project Impacts:

  • Condition of the building improved - the conservation works to the church roofs and stained / leaded glass windows has considerably improved the condition of the church fabric.
  • Benefited the community - The conservation project benefitted the local community and built heritage by restoring and retaining a B listed church building and church in use.
  • Greater public engagement - Greater public engagement was achieved by producing interpretation material including the production of a DVD of the church history.
  • Benefited the congregation and previous/existing users - Previous and existing users have benefitted by the improved condition and appearance of the church externally and internally, in particular the new stained glass windows. The improved external and internal condition has received very favourable comments from the church users and the wider community, supporting its use by young for rainbows and brownies, the elderly and unemployed, church meetings and private celebrations.