£500,000 to transform historic Fife church into tourist attraction

The Old Kirk, Kirkcaldy
The Old Kirk, Kirkcaldy

More than £500,000 will be spent turning a 700-year-old church in Kirkcaldy into a top tourist attraction.

The Old Kirk is set to undergo extensive refurbishment in the development.

The B-listed building has been in use for 775 years, with the oldest written record in 1244 when it was consecrated by Bishop de Bernham.

However, the 15th century tower is now needing essential repair work, including repairs to the leaking roof and stonework of the cap house and internal walls of the tower, structural timber repairs, repair or replacement of the tower windows and louvres, refurbishment and repairs to the clock, and upgrading of access and stairs within the tower.

It is hoped that work can begin in 2021, depending on various funding applications.

The development phase, which includes hiring a project manager and architect, as well as carrying out site investigations and surveys, is expected to cost over £80,000.

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A funding request has been put into Fife Council for £15,000. The community has already raised £2000 for the project and other grants will come from trusts such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The second phase of the project will carry out the restoration work and will also look at turning it into a top heritage site in Fife.

Tourist improvements to the Old Kirk will include a digital reconstruction of the late medieval pre-Reformation Old Kirk to allow digital interaction with visitors, schools, colleges and community workshops to demonstrate the 360 degree camera techniques and digitalisation of historical artefacts, and the creation of a 3D digital interactive tour of the Old Kirk and tower, including the installation of webcams to the tower roof to allow live panoramic views over Kirkcaldy.

This part is expected to cost £445,913 but cannot be started until the initial phase has been carried out.

The church hall is already used for mixed use, often holding concerts and musical events.

Rosemary Potter, chairman of the board of the Old Kirk trustees, said: “There’s been talk about the High Street, and what we all want it to look like in 10 years’ time.

“A lot of businesses are looking to move out but we’re actually busier than when we started eight years ago, and that’s what we’re looking to develop.

“There are a lot of opportunities for tourism that we want to take part in.

“The vision of the trustees always has been that the Old Kirk has been here as a centre for commuity and Christian worship for all that time, and that it should take its rightful place in the development of the town centre.

“When you’re up the tower you can see the history of the town set out before you, the harbour, the Lang Toun, the High Street, and on the horizon is Forth Park, which was in the town until the 20th century.

“We do show people up the tower already and if it’s safer and secure for another 500 years then the town can continue to enjoy it.”