Thurso West Church of Scotland

Fabric

The main building is of Gothic design with the front gable broken by a tower surmounted by an octagonal belfry (the bell is still fitted but not normally used) and a lucarned spire. It is of coursed dressed rubble and tooled ashlar masonry construction. The Sanctuary comprises a simple galleried interior with a canted U-shape gallery supported by plain cast-iron clustered columns, with panelled frontage and a coffered ceiling.

The Church Hall was built at a slightly later date and at that time was not attached directly to the main building. It is of contemporary or near contemporary gabled Gothic design. Originally there was also a stand-alone perpendicular gabled porch entrance at the side of the Sanctuary.

Over the intervening years the hall and side entrance were subsumed into the main building by the additions of a semi-circular vestry, toilet facilities and a small kitchen. All are of similar construction to the main building. The whole is now a Category B listed building.

Throughout its history the building has been well maintained and upgraded several times. For example the heating system has developed from the original solid fuel boiler and cast iron heating pipes through under pew electric heaters to today’s gas-fired under floor heating system.

In 2005 Thurso West Church benefited from the estate of Mrs D K Sutherland, who had been a member of the congregation. The Congregational Board decided that this legacy should be used to prepare the church materially for use through to the next century. In addition to this, the opportunity to consider the current and possible future use of the buildings within the context of the wider community, has been taken.

The Congregational Board’s priorities were: • To make the Church buildings wind and watertight • To improve the interior environment • To improve the associated facilities

To meet the first priority the tower and spire were surveyed, stones replaced where necessary and the whole unit re-pointed to prevent water ingress. The main roof was stripped of the old fabric tiles and a new Welsh slate roof was fitted, new rooves were also fitted to the hall, kitchen, toilets and vestry. All the stained glass windows were repaired and their stonework renovated as necessary.

With respect to the second priority the hall, kitchen, toilets and vestry were completely gutted and refurbished including the fitting of appropriate thermal insulation and modern sanitary, kitchen and office furniture. The Sanctuary was redecorated and the downstairs pews removed. Seating is now provided by individual chairs that promote flexibility in seating arrangements.

Several items mentioned above also meet the requirements of the third priority: to improve the associated facilities. Another big improvement has been made by the fitting of a modern sound system and associated loop system.

Today, Thurso West Church is in the enviable position of having been fully refurbished and aligned to meet the requirements of our enthusiastic congregation. Through the provision of a warm, welcoming, comfortable environment and facilities that provide for flexibility of use, we are well placed to serve our Parish in the future.