BY ED WEST
A CHARITY is trying to raise money to save the disused St Peter’s Seminary in Scotland.
NVA, a public arts charity that specialises in large-scale environmental artwork in rural settings, aims to raise £10 million over the next two years to help save the distinctive modernist structure in Cardross, Argyll and Bute.
The Category A-listed building, described by one architectural conservationist as a “building of world significance”, was designed and built in the 1960s as a seminary but it has not been used since the 1980s and is now a ruin.
NVA aims to restore part of the seminary and use it as an art space, and has already received £100,000 from Creative Scotland’s National Lottery Fund towards the project. But it still needs £2 million in the next two years to bring the project to fruition. The charity’s plan is to gradually restore some interior spaces for cultural and educational use.
St Peter’s Seminary was designed by Glasgow architects Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, and belonged to the Archdiocese of Glasgow. Completed and consecrated in 1966, the distinctive zig-zag design and concrete appearance brought architectural recognition to the site. By the time of its completion numbers entering the priesthood were already in decline and St Peter’s never reached its full capacity of 100 students. The building also suffered from structural problems and, faced with high maintenance costs, the archdiocese closed the college in 1980. It was turned into a drug rehabilitation centre but has not been used since the end of the 1980s.
The building was Category A listed by Historic Scotland in 1992, one of only 42 postwar buildings to achieve that status. The World Monuments Fund, which works to preserve endangered cultural landmarks, added St Peter’s College to its register in June 2007 as one of the 100 most endangered sites.
St Peter’s is not the only derelict former seminary in Britain. St Joseph’s College, Upholland in Lancashire, opened in 1883, stopped housing seminarians in 1975 and was sold off altogether in 1991. It was hoped it would be turned into flats but has remained derelict.
Last year it was announced that the 200-year-old Ushaw College in County Durham was due to close this summer. English Heritage has expressed concerns about the college’s closure and the future of its historic buildings and artefacts. Meanwhile, Scotus College, the last seminary on Scottish soil, was closed down in 2009 following a decline in vocations.