The Church is located in the small village of Kilninver at junction of A816 and B844 to Seil
Simple country Church of 1793 by John Clark, mason of Oban; oblong in plan with birdcage belfry. Radically reconstructed 1892 when porch and vestry added and windows altered. Panelled rear gallery and pitch pine pulpit box. Christian worship recorded at Kilninver in 1200’s.
3.0 Defects and their Discovery
The Church of Scotland issued a Quinquennial Report on the condition of the Church in November 2000. The Report noted a considerable number of defects and potential defects to the fabric of the Church and drew attention to the need to attend to them expeditiously.
Unfortunately at that time there was less than £200 allocated for maintaining the Church and it was felt that nothing of any consequence could be done. In addition there was no fabric convenor in post.
In early 2004 a new fabric convenor was appointed to the Parish of Kilninver and Kilmelford. A preliminary report on the condition of both Churches was made to the Kirk Session at the end of February 2004 with the result that a decision was made to tackle the major problem areas at Kilninver leaving those at Kilmelford to a later date. Kilninver’s condition being seen as the more serious of the two. During April 2004 a detailed condition survey of the Church was prepared. This survey highlighted the defects set out in the 2000 Quinquennial Report and drew attention to the fact that there had been further serious deterioration to the building namely:
• The roof structure at the gable ends where the roof appeared to be slowly breaking its back.
• The belfry stonework and the bell structure were thought to be unsafe.
• Rainwater gutters and down pipes leaked and were blocked in places.
• Parts of the vestry floor were rotten.
• Bats had colonised an area of the roof space and were causing damage to the ceiling plaster.
• All the electrical installations were suspect and recommended to be tested.
• Balcony timbers were being attacked by wood boring insects.
There were a host of other defects of a less serious nature.
The Fabric Convenor concluded that at least £16,000 would be required to be spent on urgent repairs to the main roof and belfry alone.
4.0 Dealing with the Defects / Fund Raising
The defects and their seriousness in relation to the use of the building were discussed by the Kirk Session in May 2004. The Session decided that every effort was to be made to raise sufficient funds to enable at least the essential works to the fabric to be carried out. Accordingly a small ‘Buildings Group’ was set up charged with defining the work to be done and raising the money to do it.
The Group met regularly thereafter.
The Group obtained specialist reports from the Architect (Gray Marshall Associates), an electrical engineer (Oban Electrical Services Ltd), the Church of Scotland Lighting Adviser (Hugh J Nicholl) and the Church of Scotland Better Heating Scheme (Andrew MacOwan Associates)
When these reports were received they indicated that more work was required than had been originally envisaged. In particular treatment against wood boring insect was required to the roof and balcony timbers, soak-a-ways were required for rainwater disposal, the timber sides to the porch required significant repair together with various other repairs to windows and doors. The electrical installation was condemned and the current lighting did not comply with the DDA.
In view of the negligible amount of money in hand for maintenance the Group decided to organise a major fund raising campaign. As a result an easily read appeal letter was prepared and signed by the Minister and sent to 104 members/families in the local community the majority of whom were not active members of the Church. In addition there was an attempt to alert the community to the condition of the Church by word of mouth and articles in local publications.
In addition a number of Trusts were applied to in the hope of receiving grants.
To obtain protection, as far as possible, from VAT the Church was registered with the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme.
The Group agreed that once sufficient funds were received to enable the most urgent of the works to be undertaken tenders would be obtained from contactors. The works would be phased and carried out as funds became available.
The appeal letters resulted in 53 gifts or pledges being received. These combined with monies promises from the Church of Scotland General Trustees, The Baird Trust, The Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust and The Dalrymple Donaldson Fund allowed the Kirk Session in the late summer of 2005 to agree to tenders being obtained for the 1st phase.
5.0 The 1st Phase
The 1st phase comprised the works to the East and West gables, main roof, replacement of rainwater goods, repair of the vestry floor, repairs to some windows and work associated with bats. This latter work was carried out with the advice of Scottish Natural Heritage.
Full Bills of Quantities were prepared and 13 Local contractors were invited to tender for the work, all declined. It was then decided to negotiate a contract with Cumming & Company who were based in Perth and are expert restorers of historic and church buildings.
A satisfactory tender sum was agreed and work commenced at the beginning of November 2005 and was completed in January 2006 within budget.
6.0 The 2nd Phase
It had been apparent that the rainwater disposal was inadequate. Having reviewed the funds in hand the decision was made to construct run offs to new soakaways away from the building and at the same time improve the gravel paths around the building.
This work was carried out in March and April 2006 on a labour only basis by a local person. Materials were purchased by the Church,
7.0 The 3rd Phase
Further small donations had been received following the completion of phase 1. As a result a decision was made to obtain a report from a specialist to consider carrying out treatment to the roof and balcony timbers against further attack by wood boring insects.
In October 2006 Richardson & Starling carried out the required treatment.
8.0 The 4th and 5th Phases
As a result of the continued interest of the community the Group decided to obtain further funds to enable the vestry roof to be repaired and the whole of the electrical installations together with the lighting fittings to be replaced. The latter work being carried out in accordance with the recommendations of the Church of Scotland Lighting Adviser. In addition consent was sought and obtained for the changes to the lighting installation from the Committee on Church Art and Architecture.
Further financial support was sought from the Church of Scotland General Trustees. This was received and together with the local funds enabled the work to proceed.
In February 2007 the vestry roof was repaired by Cumming & Company. Subsequently the vestry was redecorated by the parishioners.
Tenders were sought from local contractors for the electrical work with the result that the Kirk Session appointed AMP Electrical Services Scotland Ltd to carry out the work. This work was completed in August 2007. The new lighting makes a vast improvement to the feeling within the Church.
9.0 Further Work Carried Out
With the completion of the above works further works have been carried out namely:
• A new external notice board has been gifted in memory of a parishioner
• A new carpet has been gifted to the Church
• Funds have been gifted specifically to repair the Porch.
10.0 More Still To Do
Maintaining and keeping up to date a building of the age of Kilninver Church is an ongoing task. At present the target is to carry out repairs to window sills and to the external harling as well as installing an induction loop system, guards to under pew heaters and a balcony guard rail.
Fund raising continues.