It is the intention of the Kirk Session to undertake much needed repair and restoration work both to the fabric within the church’s 14th Cy Quire and to its external roof.
Over many years, the decaying condition of the internal stonework of the Quire has been giving ever increasing levels of concern. As a result of the last major restoration of the building in 1933, cracks have become visible in the stone walls and the mid-line of the roof has clearly moved off-centre. More recently, one of the stone corbels on the south side of the Quire has ‘sprung loose’ from its attachment to the wall and needs urgent attention. The precise reason for all this happening is uncertain and explanations range from a disturbance to the roof fabric when new foundations were excavated under the tower in 1933 to coal mine excavations being made deep under the church in years past. Whatever may have caused our present problems one things has been substantiated – the church is NOT about to fall down.
What does fall down however, especially at times of persistent rain and/or high wind, are pieces of the internal roof’s stonework. These vary in size but, at times, can be large enough to be dangerous to members of the public – especially the church choristers and organist! Mercifully, no-one has as yet been injured and before anyone is the experts are telling us that now is the time for us to act.
Already, we have consulted our friends Tod & Taylor, Conservation Architects based in Edinburgh who have been the architectural advisers to Bothwell Parish Church for many years and know the building well. Roger Taylor has met with our own representatives along with those from South Lanarkshire Council and the decision was made that no member of the public should enter the chancel area at the east end of the Quire (presently roped off) while investigations should be undertaken as to the totality of the works requiring to be done to secure and restore that part of our church building.
Before any work can be undertaken on the external roof of the Quire, it has been agreed by all parties involved – the Presbytery of Hamilton, the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland, Historic Scotland and our own Kirk Session and architects – that necessary repair work should begin within the Quire as soon as possible.
To this end, the following has been arranged:
- With the support of the Presbytery, the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland have made available to the Kirk Session a loan facility of £76,000 to allow this urgent phase of work to proceed.
- Structural Engineers have already visited the church and carried out a laser examination of the entire building
- A project Steering Group has been formed under the direction of one of our church members John Young, formerly senior partner of the surveying firm DM Hall. Serving along with John are others professionally qualified in construction, the law and finance. The Kirk Session and General Trustees are also represented.
- The first full meeting of this Steering Group took place on Monday, August 22nd.
It is, of course, the intention of the Kirk Session and, therefore, of the Steering Group, to keep the congregation as fully appraised as possible about this project. This is going to be a considerable challenge to complete. However, such challenges have been successfully realised throughout the history of our church at Bothwell and, God willing, will be so again.