A PIECE of Rosneath Peninsula and local religious history was demolished in March 2013.
It was not a surprise, but it was a sad day for many local residents when the ‘Tin Hut Church’ was pulled down.
Officially known as Peaton Church, situated beside a bend on the shore road between Cove and Coulport, it caught the eye of many a visitor and tourist, and was much loved by members of the tiny congregation.
When he saw what had happened, former Helensburgh Advertiser editor Julian Calvert, a Kilcreggan resident, stopped to take the picture (right) on his way to work at Glasgow Caledonian University, where he is a senior lecturer in journalism.
Julian writes an informative blog which he calls www.thelochsidepress.com, which contains peninsula news items and comment, and the picture page first appeared there.
The exact date the iron church was built is not known, but W.C.Maughan refers to it in his 1893 book Rosneath Past and Present and his 1897 book Annals of Garelochside.
After writing about another metal church which existed for many years in Kilcreggan but is long gone, Maughan added: “There is another small place of worship connected with the Church of Scotland, namely the iron chapel, built a number of years ago on the shores of Loch Long, near Peatoun.
“The chapel is only open for a short time in summer, but it fills its place in affording Gospel ministrations for those visitors who are unable to take the long walk of several miles to Craigrownie Church.”
It was used until about 2002, when Dumbarton Presbytery decided it was no longer viable, and it was sold to an adjoining proprietor. Planning permission to demolish it was granted in 2010, but nothing happened for three years.
Although it was not a listed building, the church appeared on the Buildings at Risk Register which described it as ‘a simple corrugated iron tin tabernacle with the remains of a spire at the west end of the roof’.
The Register said of the tin tabernacles: “Construction of churches and other buildings in corrugated iron flourished from 1855 through to the 1930s.
“Quickly erected, they were often supplied as kits through builders’ merchants in a variety of sizes and designs.
“For construction, a simple foundation would be built and the corrugated iron sheets bolted on to a wooden frame.
“The interior would be lined with tongue and groove boarding. Depending on the resources available to the congregation there would be a range of interior fittings and furniture.
“In due course the corrugated iron church might be replaced by a more permanent stone or brick building, with many being retained as church halls.”
In September 2009 the Register said of Peaton Church: “External inspection finds the building disused and it is rusting gently.
“The heavy vegetation growth around it has largely obscured it from view. An application for change of use of the former church to form a single dwelling was approved in 2000.”
An inspection in October 2012 reported no significant change, but noted that full planning permission for demolition of the church in favour of a new build residential dwelling was conditionally approved by Argyll and Bute Council in July 2010.
A group of local residents maintained the building until the Church of Scotland decided it must close.
One of them was Mrs Tillie Jeffrey, who lived at nearby Ardpeaton until eight years ago, when she and her husband Ronnie — a former Advertiser managing director — moved back to Helensburgh where they had lived previously.
She said: “The church was quite wonderful — we all just loved the place. At one time it even had a steeple.
“Up until about ten years ago we had once a month services in our lovely wee church at 5pm on Sunday, conducted by the minister of Craigrownie Parish Church, until Dumbarton Presbytery decided that it was no longer viable.
“The congregation would be 10-20 people, mostly from Coulport but some from Cove and Kilcreggan.
“We had an organist who played a pedal organ, and we would have the service and then adjourn to someone’s house for tea or coffee, or perhaps a sherry.
“It was great fun, and we all used to help to keep it clean and tidy. We were very disappointed when the Presbytery decided it must close — all the neighbours wanted to keep it going.
“Now I am really sorry to hear that it has been demolished, although we knew that planning permission for demolition had been granted.”
The postcard view and the image of the church shortly before demolition are by courtesy of the Gareloch and Rosneath Peninsula website www.rosneathpeninsula.org.uk.