£4.2m funding to transform St Peter’s Seminary into arts venue

A plan to transform the derelict St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross into a unique arts venue and heritage destination has today been awarded £4.2 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Creative Scotland.

The HLF awarded funding of £3,806,000 to arts organisation NVA to carry out the revamp while Creative Scotland confirmed a National Lottery funding award of £400,000 towards the project.

The Seminary near Helensburgh is currently the centrepiece of a sell-out public art event called Hinterland, marking the launch of the Festival of Architecture and is a key highlight of the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design.

Regarded as one of Europe’s greatest Modernist buildings, St Peter’s opened as a training centre for young priests in 1966 - its ground-breaking design by Isi Metzstein and Andy McMillan of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. It closed its doors in 1980 and has lay abandoned since with the effects of the elements and vandalism contributing to its now ruinous state.

This major investment will see key elements of the building restored whilst others will be consolidated to allow the public safe access to large scale events and performance as well as to smaller community activities. The triple-height chapel will be partially restored and converted into a 600-capacity venue while the former sacristy and crypt will be a focal point for exhibitions.

The transformation will include the 104-acre rural estate surrounding the architectural masterpiece – an estate which includes the remains of the 15th century Kilmahew Castle. A path network based on the original 19th century designed landscape will be reinstated, historic bridges restored and the Victorian walled garden brought back into productive use, bringing the site back to life and encouraging new audiences to visit. It is expected that over 200 people will become involved as volunteers.

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “After 25 years of decline, this ground-breaking project has the potential to save an internationally significant building, exploiting its commanding presence to produce an exceptional arts venue. Its appeal will attract new audiences from near and far. Its transformed estate will become a natural haven for the local community to explore, enjoy and be proud of.

“We are delighted that, thanks to players of the National Lottery, we can help mark the launch of Scotland’s Festival of Architecture by funding St Peter’s Seminary.  Highly regarded across the world, it is a unique record of its time which is in very real danger of being lost.”

Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of NVA, added: “This is a historic moment in the life of St Peter’s Seminary. We are now able to start work on its permanent transformation into an international cultural centre that will speak to the creative life of Europe. After the overwhelming response to Hinterland, our first major animation of the site and the new name for Kilmahew/St Peter’s, we have real hope that our vision for progressive, socially-focussed art will connect strongly with people and together we will forge a new place for public art and its significance in the world. We thank Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland for joining us in the vision and ambition for the site and investing in its future.”

Share icon
Share this article: