Location and Community Context
Caol, Fort William
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The demolition and rebuild of a 1960’s church to provide a new community hub and increased opportunities for mission and outreach. Kilmallie Free Church was built in 1961 to serve the paper and aluminium mill community of Caol bordering Fort William. The building, of traditional cavity wall construction, had reached capacity and was also proving difficult to heat and maintain. Proposals were drawn up for the upgrade and extension of the building which would enable them to expand their community work and develop new initiatives. Following tender the costs for demolition and rebuild were found to be more favourable than refurbishment and the congregation proceeded to demolish the building in early 2012. The new building is constructed of a glue laminated timber and steel frame and is heated by air to air source heat pumps. The new building provides a 220 seat sanctuary, community cafe, improved accessibility, meeting rooms, hall and a base for their outreach work with local schools. The project cost £600,000 with a £250,000 grant from the EU Highland LEADER programme. When working with buildings of the construction and condition of Kilmallie it can often prove cheaper to demolish and rebuild rather than refurbish. The project highlights the importance of exploring and comparing all of the options. Kilmallie is also an excellent example of the transformative effect a new church building can have on a community. Prior to the project the church was an alien environment to many in the community. The warm inviting atmosphere and attractive surroundings of the new building have broken down these barriers and created a strong sense of community ownership. As a result the congregation has experienced tremendous growth and has discovered a new vibrancy.