Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Any love for the former West Church lying derelict on the Isle of Bute?

Any love for the former West Church in Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute?

It’s one of a number of similar derelicts you can find on the island if you go for a wander, but is the only one I see being picked on in the media.

I’ve known this one for years, as it lies on the edge of once hidden car park. Access was via a narrow gap between two building on the main street, but was made easier when a second access was created using the space left at he front of the church, when it fell out of use.

It was a handy place to park off-street many moons ago when we stayed in a nearby attic flat. In later years it served as a handy place to stop for lunch, being close to the shops for some food (if we had no sandwiches), and a kiosk on the esplanade that sold giant mugs of tea (albeit in a plastic cup) to help wash it down.

Going back to the church, it was taken over by the local stray cats, and they were adopted by the ladies that look after and feed such lost souls, and make sure they see the vet. It used be fun spotting them, but they were generally wary of strangers, so little or no fun playing with them.

But the building has been derelict and abandoned for years now, and concerns are growing over its condition. Some are calling for it to be demolished, while others are trying to find a use for it, or maybe just part of it.

As always, not being there, or being involved, makes it hard to get at the truth.

Are those calling for demolition after the ground for themselves for some reason?

Are those who want it retained just sentimental, and have no idea how safe it is after years of neglect?

And now those who live nearby are claiming nobody is listening to them.

But I doubt that (since we are obviously hearing their story), and suspect more likely a desperate reporter who wants some clickbait for an attention-grabbing headline. Rather than reporting concerns, I suspect leading questions were asked, and that legitimises the application of some ‘artistic licence’ after the writer raises the issue… after prompting those being interviewed.

That said, I do have to be fair and say that there is a tenement block to the immediate right of the church, on the hidden side in the pic below. But I’d still take the view that claiming they are not being listened to is wrong on the neighbour’s part – what they really mean is that they think their voice is the one that should be heard, and those seeking to retain or re-use the church should be ignored. I don’t have a pic to hand, but you can see the building if you look in Street View.

What we are seeing is merely due process being followed, and they don’t seem to like that since they are not being given blanket priority without debate.

Here are the most recent news articles that appeared this month:

Former Rothesay church beyond help, says councillor – The Buteman

Can former Rothesay church really be saved? – The Buteman

‘No-one listening to us’ say West Church neighbours – The Buteman

Decision soon on fate of former Rothesay church – The Buteman

23/08/2015 - Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , ,


  1. I own a flat right next to the church and I personally believe it should be safed ,
    My flat is at the top on the left hand side which to be honest is the closest to the spire if that mattered but to me it does it’s a public landmark and the best option and certainly the cheapest is to make it safe rather than demolish it , to be honest if a gale got up and any structural issues arrose which caused damage to the structure the only person in Rothesay it would actually directily effect is me which at the top right next to it which cause more damage to my flat than anybody else’s around ? I would like to see it maintained and made as structurally as sound as possible which to be honest is the cheapest option as well and should really be cheaper than demolition although I’d be ok aswell if the back of the church was demolished if need be , as the roof has failing and just leave the steeple which despite a lot of vegetation is still in reasonably good condition despite being untouched as in maintininse wise in many many years


    Comment by Romano zavaroni | 24/08/2015

  2. Thanks for taking the time to add to this.

    I didn’t expect anyone to read this, let alone get a reply, and one that supports the church.

    I guess (from the name) you might tend to favour not messing around with the island too much (and I hope I am not ‘putting words in your mouth’), and retaining character where safe and possible.


    Comment by Apollo | 24/08/2015

  3. Hi,
    there is a local group led by Richard whitcomb who have been gaining support and funding to restore the church to bring it back in to use. The council are not allowing public or press to to view any surveys carried out and did not let them get get involved with the decision making to demolish.The roof certainly needs attention but it is repairable.The interior has lost its balcony,plaster, many windows but the stone structure is remarkably stable and some fine Aesthetic stained glass, tiled floors, stone staircases, balastrades are in amazing condition.
    I have written to many members of Argyll & Bute council and Historic Scotland trying to get them to postpone the dismantling (read as demolition)of the church and I would reccommend anyone who wishes to save it to do the same.
    Designed by one of scotlands finest architects of his time Charles Wilson,and a good example of his work, this iconic buidlnig that has been part of the Rothesay skyline for the last 160 years.
    The cost to demolish is comparable to making the building watertight, until funding is secured by the local group.
    If there is anything you can do to help please do.

    Argyle Street.


    Comment by Scott | 13/09/2015

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