Iconic Glasgow church to live on as a theatre

The 218-foot church spire can be seen from across Glasgow. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The 218-foot church spire can be seen from across Glasgow. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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IT IS one of the best-known buildings in Glasgow’s West End – and one which has found a new lease of life.

Now the trustees of Lansdowne Church on Great Western Road have launched a final fundraising push to fully secure its future as a theatre.

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The church, regarded as one of Scotland’s finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture, can be seen from around the city thanks to its famous spire, which is 218 feet high.

With a dwindling congregation, the fate of the John Honeyman-designed building was uncertain until the Four Acres Charitable Trust (Fact) got involved.

The trust is gradually forging a new role for the A-listed church in the community, with its refurbished main hall serving as a theatre space.

Known as Websters Theatre, it has been buoyed by a series of successful productions and pantomimes.

But now the trust has launched one final fundraising push so the Kelvinbridge building can become a fully operational 180-seat theatre by spring.

Work to restore an adjoining bar and bistro area is already under way and the aim is to have everything completed by April.

Having secured grants and loans to carry out work so far, the trust has launched a campaign on the fundraising pledge website Crowdfunder for £25,000. With a deadline of tomorrow, they are close to the £20,000 mark and hope for a late rush of donations.

David Robertson, project director with the trust, which operates Cottiers Theatre in nearby Hyndland, said: “There are only a few days to go before the Crowdfunder campaign deadline and at present we are really just treading water until we get this extra finance.

“Our idea is to make one of the most beautiful buildings in Glasgow become one of the most lively in the city for arts and entertainment and the timing is very important because summer is the time you want to open a venue like this.”

In the long term, the trust aims to fully restore the building and its stained glass panels created by Alfred Webster. There are also plans to create a public square at its front entrance with steps down to the river, connecting it to the Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Museum.

But Mr Robertson stressed the trust was taking things one step at a time, adding: “Right now we just want to get it going – get the life into it – by running a theatre space and a meeting place with good food and beverages and a hall upstairs for all sorts of healthy community activity.”

The initiative has also received the support of community groups in the city’s thriving West End.

Ann Laird, convener of Friends of Glasgow West, said the group was “delighted to support such a bold and excellent venture”.

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