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South West News Service via Reuters Connect
South West News Service via Reuters Connect
World News

Golden Scottish church spire refurbished in £400k overhaul

by Lydia Davies

A 16th-century Church of Scotland's spire has been revitalised, now shining in its original golden splendour after a £400,000 refurbishment.

This prominent feature of St Michael’s Parish Church in Linlithgow, visible from both the M9 and the Edinburgh-Glasgow train line, has undergone extensive renovation to prevent its potential collapse.

According to Brian Lightbody, the retired architect who spearheaded the restoration effort, the Crown of Thorns spire, a public sculpture first installed in 1964, has been restored with new bronze alloy cladding to revive its "traditional golden hue". Advanced sealing techniques have been applied to the cladding to protect against the Scottish weather for years ahead, while significant repairs were made to the spire’s structural timbers which had suffered extensive rot.

In an interview with The Scotsman, Lightbody remarked on the severity of water damage discovered during the project: “The extent of the damage uncovered as all the old cladding was removed has demonstrated that the only alternative to major restoration would have been the removal of the entire Crown." he said.

The restoration project was challenging due to its unique location, design, and materials involved – from crafting a bespoke scaffolding structure to replacing timber sections without destabilising the whole structure. Lightbody expressed confidence that their efforts would ensure the spire's longevity for future generations.

St Michael’s Parish Church has a rich history dating back to its initial construction in 1138, with the current building completed in 1540. It has served as a worship site for Scottish monarchs, including Mary Queen of Scots.

Public donations contributed significantly to the restoration budget, with additional funding from Historic Environment Scotland, the Church of Scotland General Trustees, the Scottish Landfill Trust, and the Pilgrim Trust.

Rev Dr Liam Fraser from St Michael’s expressed his enthusiasm about the local excitement surrounding the spire's renewal.

“Sixty years on from the installation of the spire...the excitement this project has generated locally is astonishing," he said in a statement to the Church of Scotland.

He also reflected on how perceptions of the spire have evolved over time from controversy to admiration as a "masterful marriage of modern design to historic architecture.”


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