Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Boghall Parish Church and glazed entrance foyer (Hall of Fellowship), excluding adjoining church hall and link block to east, Elizabeth Drive, BathgateLB52605

Status: Designated

Documents

Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/termsandconditions).

Summary

Category
C
Date Added
30/05/2022
Local Authority
West Lothian
Planning Authority
West Lothian
NGR
NS 99550 68558
Coordinates
299550, 668558

A distinctive Modernist parish church with an unusual saddle-shaped roof. Built between 1963-65 for the Church of Scotland to the designs of Wheeler & Sproson. The double height sanctuary is kite-shaped on plan and is lit by a decorative clerestory of coloured glass panels. A glazed, L-plan entrance foyer connects to the east (the Hall of Fellowship). The church is located on an open site at the centre of Boghall, a post-war housing scheme near Bathgate. The building remains in use as a place of worship (2022).

 

The roof is a hyperbolic paraboloid (saddle-shaped), rising to a point at the northeast and southwest corners. The opposite two corners slope downwards and are anchored to the ground by pairs of splayed, reinforced concrete abutments. Originally there was a cantilevered bellcote over the northeast corner but this was removed in 2003 (West Lothian Council). The church is brick-built with roughcast walls. The upper walls are lit by a clerestory of plain and coloured glazing in a geometric design, which gives the appearance that the roof is floating above the walls. The adjoining, single-storey entrance foyer (Hall of Fellowship) is flat-roofed, with floor to ceiling replacement uPVC glazing.

 

The interior was seen in 2021. Both the original layout and decorative scheme are largely intact. The open-plan sanctuary is accessed from either side of the northeast corner, via the adjoining Hall of Fellowship. It is double height with angled fixed pews lining either side of a central aisle. There is a raised chancel to the southwest corner and a gallery over the northeast entrance corner, carried on two slender columns.

 

The sanctuary has high-quality detailing throughout. The walls are grey facing brickwork and the double-curved ceiling is lined with yellow-coloured Columbian pine, as are the fixed pews. The floor is made of narrow boards of red-coloured hardwood. A vertical pattern of ribbed timber is carried through the doors, the front of the gallery and the ceiling of the Hall of Fellowship. The gallery has raked pews and a centrally positioned organ. The clerestory has a range of blue, yellow and clear glass, framing the chancel at the southwest corner. It has a wave-shaped pulpit of facing brick that extends out from the wall, a timber communion table, lectern, large freestanding cross, a glass baptismal font on a metal frame and a curtained screen behind.

 

The site is bounded by a low rubble stone wall with plain metal railings and pedestrian gates. There is a double-height, rectangular-plan church hall and single-storey link block with ancillary accommodation adjoining the east end of the glazed entrance foyer (Hall of Fellowship). These were built in 1960 and are excluded from the listing.

 

Historical Development

 

In the years after 1945, the Church of Scotland National Church Extension Committee outlined an ambitious plan of church building to parallel what was happening in housing. The Church of Scotland saw this as an opportunity to help shape the newly emerging post-war communities and to ensure the established national church was a focal point for the future.

 

Boghall Church was established during the peak of this expansion in 1958 and served the associated council estate, which was developed from the mid 1950s. Boghall Church was originally an extension to St John's Church Bathgate, and the first services were initially held at Boghall Primary School. In 1960, a modest, dual use 'Hall Church' was initially built on an adjacent site provided by Bathgate Town Council (West Lothian Courier, 1960, p.20). Comprising a community hall with sanctuary at one end, these hall churches were particularly common in the 1950s.

 

By 1963, Boghall Parish Church had a well-established congregation, and the growing community began raising funds for a purpose-built sanctuary. In November 1963, the Fife-based architectural firm Wheeler & Sproson submitted plans for the new church. The firm had already gained critical acclaim for their experimental design of a new parish church for Glenrothes New Town, which opened in 1961 (Watters, p.66).

 

Construction began in May 1964 and in October 1965 the 'ultra-modern' church was opened by the High Commissioner to the General Assembly, Lord Birsay (West Lothian Courier, 1965, p.7). The completed sanctuary is first shown on the 1968 Ordnance Survey Map, adjoining the earlier hall-church of 1960 via a new entrance foyer (the Hall of Fellowship).

 

The footprint of the church complex appears to have remained unchanged since this time. The main alteration to the original design was the loss of the cantilevered concrete bellcote. Photographs from the 1970s show that supports were added to stabilise the structure, but it was eventually removed in 2003. At this time repairs were made to the roof and walls because of long-standing structural problems with the bellcote. Around the same time the timber-framed glazing, and doors of the entrance foyer were replaced with uPVC casements in a similar pattern as installed in 1964.      

 

Statement of Special Interest

Boghall Parish Church meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

  • It is architecturally distinctive, with a high level of design quality that is unusual for a small church of this date.
  • It is an early example of Modernist and Liturgical Movement planning principles being applied in a new church for the established church.
  • The hyperbolic paraboloid (saddle) roof is technically innovative and is rare as an early surviving example in Scotland.
  • It is a notable design by one of Scotland's leading architectural practices of the second half of the 20th century.
  • The original design has been partially altered but the building retains a significant amount of its mid-20th century character.
  • It retains its setting as the architectural focal point within a wider local authority housing development from the post-war period.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: adjoining church hall and link block to east.

Architectural interest:

Design

Boghall Parish Church is a visually striking and innovative example for its date and denomination that displays the influence of the Modern Movement in its overall design. This is largely evident through the use of Expressionist style architectural forms, a lack of decorative detailing, the use of materials such as concrete and brick and a dramatic use of light. The overtly modern design is unusual as it does not follow the more traditionalist, conservative designs that were typical of the established church in the early post-war period.

The unusual form of the swept roof is an innovative feature that gives the building its sculptural or 'Expressionist' appearance. Known as a hyperbolic paraboloid roof, its use at Boghall is both structural and aesthetic. Hyperbolic paraboloid roofs, became popular in Britain from the late 1950s, influenced by the concrete shell structures developed in the 1950s by the likes of Felix Candela, and the work of Oscar Niemeyer. They were favoured as their sculptural appearance and engineering possibilities could be achieved at a relatively low cost, only requiring basic materials and finishes. Their inherent strength also meant they were able to support their own weight, enabling large uninterrupted floor plans to be achieved. As a result, they were often used for churches, exhibition buildings and halls. Although they continue to be used today, few early examples remain across the UK (see Age and Rarity).

There were many different variants of hyperbolic paraboloid roofs. The two-way or anti-clastic (swept or saddle-shaped) style that can be seen at Boghall, enjoyed a brief period of fashion from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s. Its futuristic appearance reflected the Space Race and its influence on trends in fashion and design during this period. Boghall was the second church in Scotland to have been built with this particular type of hyperbolic paraboloid roof, the first being Hamilton-Bardrainney in Port Glasgow (now demolished). Boghall Church is of special interest under this heading, as an early surviving example of an innovative roof structure.

In the period after 1945, there was a significant increase in church building, either as part of substantial new housing schemes, or to replace a war-damaged building. A major consideration of the established church in this post-war climate, was the need to make churches a focal part of the new community (The Twentieth Century Church, p.15). The quality and ambition of the design of Boghall Church is unusual for a small, provincial church that was built for a newly established local authority estate. It reflects the aspirations of the designers and of the Church of Scotland, but also the activity and optimism of a period which sought to make real improvements to the socio-economic fabric of Scotland through design and urban planning.

Wheeler and Sproson was established in 1954 and was one of the leading architectural firms in Scotland during the second half of the 20th century. Their work ranged from large civic buildings to local authority housing schemes. It championed a contextual ethos to modern design, with a strong awareness of traditional Scottish building materials. Boghall is the second church they designed for the Church of Scotland. It is of special interest under this heading because it demonstrates a continuation of the young firm's innovative approach to church design, which they first pioneered at St Columba's, Glenrothes, 1958-60 (LB49999).

The kite-shaped, open-plan sanctuary of Boghall was unconventional for the period and remains largely unchanged. It is a modern interpretation of the traditional church plan that allowed a greater feeling of congregational participation in the worship (West Lothian Courier, 22 May 1964). This relaxation of traditional hierarchies in church buildings resulted in a period of experimentation in which a variety of plan forms emerged from the early 1960s onwards. However, the established church in Scotland largely continued to favour more traditional plan forms until the later 1960s. The plan form at Boghall is of special interest as it represents an early response in the Church of Scotland to the ideas of the Liturgical Movement, which sought to reorganize church spaces to encourage communal worship and a greater connection to God.

The interior uses simple, well-detailed materials in a severely paired back style that is characteristic of the Modern Movement. Boghall is among the early examples of these principles being applied by the established church. A significant amount of the original finishes, fixtures and fittings are retained and the quality of the design and craftsmanship is evident throughout. Notable features include the bespoke pews, which are similar in design to those at St Columba's, Glenrothes, and the use of coloured glass to dramatic effect behind the chancel. The internal brick finish of the sanctuary wall is extended to form the curvilinear pulpit, showing how key features of the traditional kirk were carefully integrated within the modern form of the building.

The original character of Boghall Church has been partially impacted by the loss of the bellcote, as well as some minor changes to the building's fabric. The remainder of the interior and exterior remains largely unaltered, which contributes to the building's authenticity and design quality. On balance, Boghall remains an innovative example for its date, and represents the initial experimental phase in the design and layout of new churches for the established church.

Setting

The church is located on a raised grassy area on the south side of Elizabeth Drive in the centre of Boghall, a former council estate to the east of Bathgate. Its immediate setting has remained largely unchanged, and the earlier hall-type church adjoins to the east (excluded from the listing). The church remains an important element within a planned post-war community and forms part of a wider group of civic buildings, which includes the nearby Boghall Primary School. This is typical of new churches that were planned as part new local authority developments.

The church is a landmark feature within its setting. The futuristic form of its saddle roof rises above the surrounding rows of predominantly two-storey dwellings. The unusual design is in sharp contrast with the more traditional form of these former council houses, but their roughcast finish is emulated by that of the church. The overall effect has been partially impacted by the loss of the distinctive bellcote, but the church remains the key focal point within the development and represents the ambitious aspirations for the wider scheme.

Historic interest:

Age and rarity

The older a building is, and the fewer of its type that survive, the more likely it is to

be of special interest. Churches are a prolific building type, with thousands of examples surviving across Scotland. Those dating from the post-war period are not rare and a significant number survive and remain in use as places of worship. Boghall Parish Church was built between 1963 and 1965 and therefore cannot be considered of special interest in terms of its age. However, it is of interest under this heading as it displays innovation in terms of its design, has a high quality of detail and retains much of its early character.

Boghall is one of a select number of post-war commissions for the Church of Scotland that were modernist in their conception. New churches that were built for the established church during this period were generally more conservative in design compared to their Roman Catholic counterparts. However, a fairly small group including St Columba's, Glenrothes 1958-62 (LB49999), Craigsbank, Corstorphine (1964-7), and Brucefield, Whitburn (1965-7) were the exception, utilising modern design principles, materials and new types of plan form to create bold new forms that made dramatic use of light and space.

Boghall is of further interest under this heading for its unusual hyperbolic paraboloid roof. There were many variations in form but only a small number of early examples are believed to remain across the UK. The earliest example of the particular swept, or saddle-shaped type, as at Boghall, that survives in Britain is the former petrol station at Markham Moor, Nottinghamshire (1960-61). The earliest example of this type of roof applied to a Scottish church is thought to have been the Hamilton-Bardrainney Church in Port Glasgow, built 1963 (now demolished) (CHIMES, 1966).

There are believed to be a very small number of early hyperbolic paraboloid roofs, of any type, that remain largely unaltered in Scotland. Three examples are currently listed, two of which have a saddle-shaped roof similar to Boghall: the Music School at George Watson's College, 1964-68 (LB27202) and St Kenigern's Church, Edinburgh, 1962-66 (unlisted). Boghall Church is therefore of special historic interest as rare surviving example of an early hyperbolic paraboloid roof.

Social historical interest

All churches have a degree of social historical interest; however, they are a prolific building type that can be found in every community. Built as a permanent church for the new council estate, Boghall Church is of social historical interest to the local community.

The unusual design of the church reflects the local authority's aspirations for the wider development at Boghall, for which their initial housing designs had previously been criticised for being too high-quality for a provincial council estate (West Lothian Courier, 14 May 1954). This ambition reflects the broader national commitment to welfare and the improvement of working-class communities during this period.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

References

Bibliography

Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/239681 CANMORE ID 239681

Maps

Ordnance Survey (revised 1954 to 1955, Published: 1957) Sheet 61 - Falkirk and Lanark - A Edition Size: sheet ca. 91 x 74 cm (ca. 36 x 29 inches) 7th Series, one-inch to the mile. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed / revised: pre-1930 to 1957, Published: 1958)

National Grid Map NS96NE - A (includes: Bathgate; Livingston; Whitburn)

Size: map 47-50 x 47-50 cm (ca. 19 x 20 inches), on sheet ca. 68 x 58 cm (27 x 23 inches). Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (revised 1958, published 1959) National Grid Map NS9968 – A (includes: Bathgate) 1:1250. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (revised 1968, published 1968) National Grid Map NS9968NE – B (includes: Bathgate) 1:1250. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Archives

The National Record of The Built Environment, Wheeler and Sproson Collection, WHS 2/1-2/5, Bathgate, Boghall Parish Church. Plans, sections and elevations (1963).

The National Record of The Built Environment, Wheeler and Sproson Collection, WHS 2/5 PO-2/6 PO, Bathgate, Boghall Parish Church. Photographic views of model. Stamps of Wheeler & Sproson Library and James R. Smith & Son (photographers) of Kirkcaldy on reverse. (c.1963).

The National Record of The Built Environment, Wheeler and Sproson Collection,

WHS 2/7 PO-2/9 PO, Bathgate, Boghall Parish Church. Photographic views of church Stamps of Wheeler & Sproson Library and G.W. Harvey (photographer) of Leven on reverse. Date: c.1963.

Printed Sources

Glendinning, M., MacInnes, R. and MacKechnie, A. (1996) A History of Scottish Architecture: From the Renaissance to the Present Day (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), pp. 471–2.

The Twentieth Century Church, Twentieth Century Architecture, 3 (1998), London: The Twentieth Century Society, p. 15.

Watters, D. (2001) St Columba's, Glenrothes: A post-war design laboratory for reformed worship in Architectural Heritage Journal of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, Vol XII, pp. 66-87.

West Lothian Courier, 14 May 1954

West Lothian Courier, 27 May 1960, p. 20.

West Lothian Courier, 5 November 1965, p. 7.

Online Sources

Boghall Parish Church, at http://www.boghallchurch.org.uk/about/history

[accessed 05/03/2021].

Booth, L. G., The Design and Construction of Timber Hyperbolic Paraboloid Shell Roofs in Britain: 1957-75 in Construction History Vol. 13. (1997), at

https://hescot.sharepoint.com/sites/dc/heritage/hms/300044715/WorkingFolder/DraftingFolder/Research/vdocuments.mx_the-design-and-construction-of-timber-hyperbolic-paraboloid-shell-.pdf [accessed 07/07/2021].

Canmore: Bathgate, Elizabeth Drive, Boghall Parish Church, at

https://canmore.org.uk/site/239681/bathgate-elizabeth-drive-boghall-parish-church?display=collection, [accessed 07/07/2021].

Church Extension CHIMES Spring/Summer Newsletter 1966, p.4.

https://d3hgrlq6yacptf.cloudfront.net/5f227a05a7ac0/content/pages/documents/1465507950.pdf [accessed 07/07/2021].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Boghall Parish Church, at

http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/building_full.php?id=400418

[accessed 07/07/2021].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Wheeler & Sproson, at

http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=400444

[accessed 07/07/2021]

Harwood, E. The Use of Reinforced Concrete in Early 20th Century Churches, at https://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/concrete-churches/concrete-churches.htm [accessed 25/03/2022].

Historic England, Canopy to former petrol station, Markham Moor, at https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1402678?section=official-listing [accessed 25/03/2022].

Hume, J. (2004) Scotland's Churches Trust, Post-war Churches in Scotland

Breaking the Mould, at

https://scotlandschurchestrust.org.uk/blog/post-war-churches-in-scotland/

[accessed 28/07/2021].

Scotland's Churches Trust: Boghall Parish Church, at

https://scotlandschurchestrust.org.uk/church/boghall-parish-church/

[accessed 05/03/2021].

WordPress, Small Town History, Modern Scottish History with a Radical Sense of Place: A Spaceship for the Scheme, at

https://theviewfromwestrigg.wordpress.com/2020/04/07/a-spaceship-for-the-scheme-boghall-parish-church/ [accessed 05/03/2021].

Other Information

Information supplied by Church Minister at site visit.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

Images

Boghall Parish Church, from northwest, during daytime, on an overcast day.
Interior of Boghall Parish Church, looking southwest towards the chancel from the gallery with angled pews and coloured glass of clerestory.

Printed: 25/06/2022 14:40