Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Last chance for St Peter’s

After yet another plan evaporated, it seems St Peter’s Seminary (or, to be more accurate, its remains) has one last lifeline before it is razed to the ground and lost forever.

It’s still REALLY REALLY irritating to know I was passing (close to) this place on an almost weekly basis without realising the ruins were still there after it had closed, then lost the opportunity for easy visits only after I learned it still existed and could be visited.

It’s a constant reminder that I probably made a mistake many years ago, having originally been destined to do ‘something’ architecture related, I changed to ‘something’ electronics related.

Back then, I probably wouldn’t have believed a warning that electronics would become a dead option during my lifetime.

But there can be few who would deny that the once booming electronics industry looks jut about as derelict as St Peter’s nowadays.

Every time St Peter’s comes up…

I Should Have Been An Architect


St Peter’s Seminary: Turning a 1960s ruin into art

Although the title of the following article is based on the church’s problem of what to do with the abandoned seminary, it actually provides a reasonable summary of the site’s more recent history, and how plans made over the past few years have ultimately amounted to nothing, although they have permitted at least a partial clear up and recovery of the remains, although they are still decaying as the place remains abandoned and derelict.

An A-listed modernist building has been described as an “albatross around our neck” by the Roman Catholic Church, who said they could not even give it away.

St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, near Dumbarton, was built in 1966 as a training college for priests.

It was once described as a “modernist masterpiece” but closed in the 1970s and lay empty until a plan emerged to turn it into a cultural centre.

However, that plan was shelved and the building is now set to remain a ruin.

The structure came to be considered a modernist masterpiece but its working lifetime was short and when the number of trainee priests fell, the seminary was deconsecrated in 1980.

Since then, the building has became degraded by fire, rain and vandalism, but it still regularly attracts visits from architecture students and aficionados from around the world.

Its importance was recognised in 1992 when the seminary was Category A listed by Historic Scotland.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow has been trying to find someone to take the building on for decades but now fears it will have to remain a ruin.

Its director of communications Ronnie Convery told BBC Scotland that after 40 years they were “back to scratch”.

He said: “We would literally give it away for nothing but we can’t find anyone to take it off our hands.”

Until June last year there was hope for the building, with arts organisation NVA working on turning it into an arts venue and cultural centre.

It spent about £3m trying to make the building safe and removing hazardous materials such as asbestos.

In 2016 it staged Hinterland, a sound and light display using the ruin as a spectacular backdrop.

However, NVA closed down last year, saying the challenges facing the company were “compounded” when a core funding bid to Creative Scotland was unsuccessful.

Modernist ruin is an ‘albatross around our neck’ says church

Looks like Scotland’s new CSO (Compulsory Sales Order) is needed here. It’s supposed to fix the problem of derelicts 😉

More seriously, this is an asset (in architectural and modern historical terms) that simply has a ‘cost of ownership’ tag that is just too high to allow it to be capitalised on.

It might have taken years, or decades, but I can’t help but think that had something (and at this stage I’m not suggesting I know what) small been started on the site, just to keep it alive and have people there (rather than vandals, boozers, and smackheads), rather than try to raise countess millions in order to work on the WHOLE site, then it might have been much better off today.

I’m thinking, perhaps, of somewhere like New Lanark, which was near derelict the first time I ever saw it, with abandoned and empty factory buildings, housing which was not fit to be lived in, and parts that were little more than ruins.

That has been worked on for decades, and is now a busy tourist attraction, with even a luxury hotel.

I’m still a little confused after reading the two articles referred to above.

The summary notes that the church has described the place as an ‘albatross around our neck’ which it is unable to give away.

Yet the text accompanying the video (which also appears at the head of the summary article) states “The Catholic Church have now given the seminary to artist Angus Farquhar”, but is dated 16 Jan 2015.

I’m confused.

But, I can’t hep but think that our cousins on the Continent would have had this sorted years ago, and the seminar would have become an architectural attraction, or some other sort of venue long, long ago.

I’m not just spouting that for the sake of it. I still have a few architectural books and magazines from Germany from the 1960s, and it’s clear that we were following their lead, albeit often on a smaller scale. It’s amazing to look at their churches and see elements that were held up as ‘new’ and ‘modern’ here, only to look at the dates and see they predate our offerings.

I really do wish I could wind the clock back, and start over.


Purrmanently Sad


12/01/2019 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: