An exciting project to restore St. John’s Kirk to its former glory has been completed by main contractors Laurence McIntosh and architects LDN Architects LLP. The £2.5m transformation is the culmination of years of fundraising for the ‘Vision for the Future’ project, which has made the church more accessible and suitable for arts, culture and heritage events.
The church was established in Perth in 1126 and is one of the most important parish churches in Scotland. In 1559, the church played host to the main architect of the Reformation, John Knox. The sermon he preached was so controversial that it sparked a series of riots which resulted in the destruction of Perth’s monasteries.
Improvements have included the enhancement of the entrance and the improvement of general access for disabled people. Furthermore, additional accommodation – comprising meeting rooms, toilets, office areas, cloakroom and disabled toilets – has been introduced, along with the upgrade of existing services and the installation of more comfortable and flexible seating.
One of the main features of the refurbishment is the new adjustable stage, which can be flat or stepped depending on the purpose. This will allow the church to become multifunctional, making it more accessible to the general public.
Enabling works commenced in Easter 2010 and finished in August 2010, with the church remaining open throughout. The church closed for the refurbishment phase on the 1st September 2010 and works were partially complete for the Easter service in 2011.
Gordon Butt from Hardies, who were the project managers and cost consultants for the project, said: “This was an extremely interesting project to work on and we had full approval from Historic Scotland. The project was not without its difficulties, as we had to deal with severe weather last winter and the discovery of several important archaeological finds. However, we have had a very strong team that has worked exceptionally well together. Everyone is delighted with the end result.”
Now that the refurbishment phase is complete, a total of £39,000 will be spent upgrading the operating system that rings the Kirk bells. The Carillon of bells was commissioned in 1935 and includes some Kirk bells that date back to the 16th century.