Conservation work has been going on at Cottier’s for over twenty years. The building was taken over by Four Acres Charitable trust in the 1980s and was then in a state of severe decay.
The gallery of images on this page covers the various phases of work.
The condition of the part of the building that is now the bar and restaurant as it was in 1987 with windows broken and the roof leaking chronically is shown at the top right. Work between 1989 and 1999 we term ‘pre-lottery’. Top Left is the same building in 1995 after conversion to Cottiers Bar and Restaurant. Once established, this facility, which is owned by the trust and operated by its trading company has provided the revenue income to sustain the project.
In this period the structurally weakened main roof of the church was saved and the extensive surviving decoration was recorded in detail before rot repairs were carried out. The external stone terraces were also created as a popular seating area and all the outside gates and railings repaired. Historic Scotland was the principal capital funder throughout this period with important contributions from Glasgow City Council, Scottish Development Agency, Glasgow West Conservation Trust and others.
Once the main church roof was saved the church itself was used as a fairly primitive theatre space and operated as such for over ten years playing host to a range of performance including BBC Live in 1999. From 1996 the trust had started negotiating for lottery funding to restore and properly convert the church to a theatre. The Heritage Lottery Fund was keen but the Scottish Arts Council was committed to other venues in the city. Eventually the Heritage Lottery Fund offered to fund the repair of the steeple and bell as a discrete project called the ‘Steeple Phase’. Historic Scotland and the Council continued to support the repairs.
In 2004 a major lottery award came from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The book that is being launched is based on the trust’s lottery application from that time. The work was programmed into four phases and these are ongoing. Phase A is complete and included all the stained glass. Phase B is complete and involved excavating a basement to house plant rooms, dressing rooms and toilet accommodation for the theatre. These have yet to be fitted out. The important Willis organ was restored in 2006 and is in store waiting to return to the building. Phases C and D involve the sensitive conservation of the interior including the all-important Cottier decoration. It is intended to commence this work this year.
The theatre use had to cease while the large-scale work was underway but now that we are approaching the detailed conservation work the theatre is being started up again. We intend restoring the ceiling decoration and running the theatre at the same time so that the public can see the progress while they attend performances.
Funds are still being sought to fit out the basement and temporary accommodation for theatre audiences is being provided at ground floor level meanwhile. It is hoped that the publication of the book will stimulate public interest and enhance progress with the final phases of work.