Lansdowne Church in the West End of Glasgow is one of the city’s finest Gothic Revival buildings. The West End contains many Victorian churches and the decline in church attendance in recent decades has placed an undue burden on congregations.
The congregation at Lansdowne has recognised that an ecclesiastical use with hires to local organisations will not be sufficient on its own to support such a large building and the condition of the fabric has become a real concern. In 2005 the congregation entered into discussions with Four Acres Charitable Trust to secure the future of the building.
Under an arrangement with the Church of Scotland General Trustees, Four Acres Charitable Trust is able to take ownership of Lansdowne subject to the achievement of a planning consent for the trust’s proposed long-term use together with a suitable funding package for a first phase of work.
Reflecting the model of the Cottier Project, Lansdowne will be developed as a community building with a catering facility to provide financial sustainability. However in the case of Lansdowne a small upper hall will also be available for community hire and the main church building will retain an ecclesiastical use remaining available to the congregation while also being adapted for occasional performance. If funding is achieved to convert the hall the trust intends to work with the Friends of Glasgow West to make Lansdowne a base for the Friends’ lectures and interpretation activity.
Lansdowne is a Category A Listed building and one of the major Glasgow landmarks famous for its slender tapering spire. The Heritage Lottery Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Architectural heritage Fund have provided the trust with grant funding to develop a project plan which was completed in March 2009. Extracts from the plan regarding the significance of Lansdowne can be downloaded here.
The interior of the building was generously specified and contains an unusual arrangement of private pews accessed by individual doorways from the side aisles. The pulpit was originally a raised structure situated in the apse but this was modified around 1911/1912 to its present form when an organ by Lewis, located above the pulpit, was removed and a larger one by Norman and Beard installed at the west end of the nave gallery. The interior has a range of stained glass with the two triple lancet windows in the north and east transepts by Alf Webster standing out as exceptional. The south transept window is considered Webster’s masterwork and was completed shortly before his death at Ypres in 1915.
Lansdowne has a strategic location in the West End as it is highly accessible from the motorway, bus and subway routes and the River Kelvin with its walkway. It is hoped that some of the plain windows in the building might in future house important work by Daniel Cottier, his pupil Stephen Adam and his pupil in turn, who was Alf Webster thus adding to the appeal of Lansdowne for the visitor.