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Credit to Kintyre Amenity Trust.
Credit to Kintyre Amenity Trust.

From ‘Tartan Kirk’ to Town Heritage: AHF supports developing plans for Campbeltown Heritage Centre

11 July 2023

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is pleased to announce that it has awarded Kintyre Amenity Trust (KAT) a Project Viability Grant to explore plans for the repair, adaptation and energy efficiency upgrades of the former Gaelic Free Church, which is home to Campbeltown Heritage Centre. This is one of 13 grants that the AHF has awarded in the last two months, with projects across Scotland and Wales being offered a total of £91,465 in funding.

Constructed with contrasting red and yellow sandstone, the landmark building is known locally as the ‘Tartan Kirk’. When the church was deconsecrated in the 1990s, members of the congregation and their descendants came together to protect this valuable part of Campbeltown’s built heritage. In 1998, after deciding that the former church should become a repository for the town’s social history, KAT was established to lease the redundant building and re-open it as Campbeltown Heritage Centre.

In 2007, KAT began working on a project to regenerate the Old Schoolhouse, a Category B listed building beside Campbeltown Heritage Centre. The AHF provided funding towards this project in 2007 and 2010. In April 2012, the newly refurbished Old Schoolhouse re-opened as Campbeltown Backpackers Bunkhouse, comprising of sixteen beds available in two separate rooms, four toilets and shower rooms, a modern self-catering kitchen, a dining room, and a lounge. As originally planned, the bunkhouse provides a steady income stream that helps to maintain the Heritage Centre, as well as to develop the exhibits and purchase equipment to improve the visitor experience.

Today, the former Gaelic Free Church has been successfully used as a heritage centre for twenty-five years. During this time, as KAT has been leasing the building, it has not been able to carry out major alterations or improvements. However, having recently secured ownership of the former church, KAT now aims to repair and adapt the building so that it provides a safe environment for artefacts and improved public access to the collection. In addition to these works, KAT also intends to apply for museum accreditation and re-display the collection to modern standards.

The Historic Environment Scotland-supported AHF grant will fund a feasibility study to help KAT explore ways in which it can adapt the existing building to improve accessibility and visitor flow, as well as provide greater control of the indoor climate for the longevity of the collection. At the same time, a Building Condition Survey will be carried out by a chartered surveyor to establish the current condition of the building, produce a comprehensive list of remedial works to be carried out, and provide a preliminary estimate of costs.

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