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

ST NICHOLAS PARISH CHURCH (CHURCH OF SCOTLAND) INCLUDING HALLS AND CHURCH OFFICER'S ACCOMMODATION, 124 SIGHTHILL LOAN, 517-519 CALDER ROAD, WESTER HAILES ROAD, EDINBURGHLB52143

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
B
Date Added
17/12/2013
Local Authority
Edinburgh
Planning Authority
Edinburgh
Burgh
Edinburgh
NGR
NT 19465 70637
Coordinates
319465, 670637

Description

Ross, Doak and Whitelaw, 1955-7. Roughly Z-plan, 'Festival of Britain Style' church, comprised of double height, rectangular-plan church to N with double height, rectangular-plan hall adjoined perpendicular to S and 2-storey, rectangular-plan small hall and church officer's accommodation adjoined to W of halls; single storey entrance hall block to NW re-entrant angle; on a corner site adjacent to a post-war housing estate. Church with exposed aggregate concrete base course and cavity brick walls with brown and grey facing bricks in stretcher bond; slate window surrounds. Church halls and church officer's accommodation predominantly brick at ground floor with cement render above; terrazzo cills. 'Festival of Britain' Style interior decorative scheme including distinctive tiling to entrance vestibule.

W (WESTER HAILES ROAD) ELEVATION: church to left; canted with full-height Broughton Moor slate cladding panels section to centre flanked by single glazed strip. 7-bay church hall to right of church; advanced ground floor with glazed panel to outer left incorporating stained glass light and N return with pair of entrances in concrete surround; concrete panel with figurative relief carving to right of entrances (see NOTES). 2-storey, advanced gable to far right (small hall and church officer's accommodation); N return with deeply recessed vestibule with distinctive-patterned, square, coloured and glazed tiles; entrance doors to returns.

N (CALDER ROAD) ELEVATION: church with full-height, wide, canted glazed section to centre, composed of narrow opaque lights. Chancel stepped back to far left with full height glazing separated by timber fins.

E ELEVATION: chancel wall with brick in enlarged basket weave bond and advanced brick detail. Open sections to top left at belfry. Slightly advanced single storey, flat roofed block to left (garage and session room).

S (SIGHTHILL LOAN) ELEVATION: 2 storey, 3 bays to far left (small hall and church officer's accommodation) with linear glazing at ground floor and recessed vestibule to right with doors to return. Double-height brick gable to left (church hall); 4-bay return to E with multipane glazed clerestory and bays separated by square concrete columns. Church, set back and to right of church hall, with geometric glazed saw-toothed clerestory and reinforced concrete belfry to right; advanced single storey section at ground with 2-leaf timber entrance doors with sidelight and fanlights set within recess to right

INTERIOR: (seen 2013). 'Festival of Britain Style' decorative scheme throughout characterised by original timber fixtures and fittings, hardwood and softwood flooring to church, halls and session room and terrazzo tiles to circulation areas. Church with timber pews, square pulpit and chancel wall with coloured relief panelling representing the tearing of the temple veil; unusual choir and organ gallery to W supported on a pair of chamfered concrete supports and independent of the W wall to appear as free-standing, raked seating and slatted timber balustrade to gallery; roof supported by painted concrete bison beams and square pilasters. Large hall with vertically boarded timber to dado and S gable wall. Inner vestibule doors (from S elevation) timber with coloured glazed insets. Original door furniture.

Bespoke metal frames to church and large church hall; casement windows to other sections. Pitch roof, copper sheet; tall and slender ventilator, ridge finial to church.

Statement of Special Interest

Place of worship in use as such. St Nicholas Church is a good and rare example of a Festival of Britain Style church building, characterised by its varied used of materials and unusual detailing. This detailing includes abstract glazing, brick work detail to the chancel, slate cladding emphasising the canted sections and distinctive tiling to an entrance vestibule. Building materials were restricted following the Second World War until 1953 and the design of the church embraces the lifting of these restrictions. Internally the church retains many of its original fixtures and fixtures. The open-plan design demonstrates the move to a less hierarchical form of worship occurring during this period following the principles of the contemporary Liturgical Movement, exemplified in Basil Spence's Coventry Cathedral. The church is prominently located on a corner site on the northern edge of a post war housing estate and adjacent to a principal thoroughfare for those entering the city of Edinburgh.

The building was designed by Archibald Mackintosh Doak and Alexander Robertson Whitelaw in a competition judged by the eminent architect Robert Matthew, Church of Scotland Architect Harry Taylor and Reverend Professor JG Riddell. Doak and Whitelaw were working for Keppie and Henderson at the time, but after winning the competition they established the new practice of Ross, Doak and Whitelaw, with David John Alexander Ross. Their other churches include St Mary's, Drumry, Glasgow (1954-7) and Garthamlock and Craigend Church, Glasgow (1955-7), which is now demolished.

Held in 1951 the Festival of Britain was a nationwide programme of events to celebrate Britain's contribution to science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts and put forward an optimistic and progressive view of Britain's future, especially in the aftermath of WWII. The centrepiece of the festival was the exhibition around the south bank of the Thames, London, and the only permanent building erected was the Royal Festival Hall by Leslie Martin, Peter Moro and Robert Matthew of the London County Council Architects' Department. Modernist architecture was at the forefront of the Festival and was influential in the design of the buildings which followed it. The Festival Style for church architecture is rare but is evident at Christ Church, Coventry (1954-58) by Alfred Gardner.

The brief for the new building was for a church designed to hold 450, a church hall for 300 and of a height sufficient to play badminton, as well as ancillary rooms including a small hall, 3-bedroom quarters for the church officer and a session house. The building is also known as the Children's Church, because every Sunday school child in Scotland was challenged to give a penny per quarter to raise money for its construction. This appeal raised £51,000 and the building was officially opened on 9th September 1957. Adjacent to the principal entrance is a commemorative concrete panel with figurative reliefs of St Nicholas, the patron saint of children, and the gifts of money from children.

References

Bibliography

City of Edinburgh Archives, Dean of Guild Drawings (2 September 1955). Architects Journal (8 April 1954), pp 423-424. The Builder (2 April 1954) pp 585-587. Church of Scotland, New Churches 1956-61 (1961). Architectural Prospect (November 1956), p22. Further information courtesy of owner (2012).

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.

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