Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

St Peter’s seminary on last chance for development

St Peter’s Seminary was commissioned by the Archbishop of Glasgow in 1958 and completed in 1966. The A-listed remains lie in the woods behind the village of Cardross, in the area of the golf club.

The design was the product of two young architects, Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan, employed by Glasgow based firm of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.

St Peter’s closed in 1980, having served as a teaching college for the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, in the time taken to build and commission the facility, teaching methods and beliefs were to change within the Church, and the building was effectively obsolete and doomed before completion. It was also to suffer as a result of the Scottish climate, and the accommodation was said to be impossible to heat or keep warm, probably a casualty of the 1970s oil crisis. The building was also criticised for damp and fungus in some areas, but the architects counter this claim, believing the gutters were not cleaned or regularly maintained by the owners (looking for an excuse to offload it).

In use for only 14 years, it was a sanctuary where trainee priests could live, study and worship secure from the outside world, but completed at a time when Vatican II decreed that priests should be schooled in the community. Built to serve more than 100 trainees, it seldom held more than 50, and ended its days as the home of a drug rehabilitation project.

Over the years, a number of proposals for development of the abandoned site have come to nothing.

At the same time, the remains of the seminary building have been ravaged by exposure to weather from the outside, and the attention of vandals from the inside, who have shown no respect to the former purpose of the structure. Needless to say, the isolate location also proved attractive to drug addicts and drinkers. Attempts to fence of the site remained largely ineffective, and the cost of security would have been prohibitive, so any attempts to close the area were easily overcome.

Development news 2013

With this background, it was surprising to see a news article that development of the site is (probably) underway, although it was also noted that if this venture fails, it’s probably the last such attempt that will ever take place.

IT IS full steam ahead for plans to transform a historical site near Cardross in a multi-million pound project.

This is despite the withdrawal of original plans to develop Kilmahew Estate in Cardross being withdrawn by the Archdiocese of Glasgow, which owns the site.

Over the past few years, the NVA – nacionale vitae activa – has been carrying out surveys and work to breathe new life into the 144-acre site, which boasts a range of old buildings, a walled garden and St Peter’s Seminary.

It has an ongoing 20-year masterplan to develop the site, and by 2016/17 hopes are for new community facilities and performance and exhibition space are on target.

Angus Farquhar, creative director for the NVA, said they are the estate’s ‘last chance’ to restore it.

He added: “We think we are the right people to come up with the solution, it’s been a long time coming. The plans we are putting forward are the last chance for the site.”

The Archdiocese of Glasgow’s plans were withdrawn earlier this month as time had elapsed on the applications and are separate to the NVA’s project. Planning permission was granted in June for the restoration and transformation of the site.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow told the Advertiser last week it has no plans to resubmit the applications which were submitted more than 10 years ago, reflecting a previous proposal to develop the site, which never came to fruition.

Via Cardross seminary plans are on track | This Week | News | Helensburgh Advertiser

The article goes on to explain that security has been stepped up around the area, and reading further into NVA’s project reveals that the building has now decayed to the stage where hazardous asbestos my be liberated from the structure, and that their staff won’t enter without protection, and removal of the hazard is essential before any progress can be made.

See also…

The Invisible College – Current Projects – NVA

The Invisible College Background Info 2012 – The Invisible College Background Info 2012.pdf

The actual project: The Invisible College

If you are not familiar with St Peter’s, have a look at St Peters – a set on Flickr which shows the condition of the old seminary in 2013.

This includes a picture of the stone altar, which the vandals not only manage to damage extensively over the years, but manage to break into two parts some years ago.

I’ve cropped a view of the altar from one of the pics in the flickr set, just to show violence with which it must have been attacked in order to break off the missing parts, and the end, which is lying to the right in the pic.



September 2, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , , ,

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