St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, Scotland is to receive combined funding of £4.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland to secure its future as an arts venue and heritage destination.

Opened in 1966 and designed by Glasgow architects Isi Metzstein and Andy McMillan of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, the former training centre for Catholic priests has been in decline since its original role ceased in 1980.

The Glasgow-based arts organisation NVA has been working for the last eight years to save what is currently a modernist ruin. Until 27 March the site is hosting Hinterland, a spectacle of light and sound designed to highlight the history and beauty of this acclaimed building.

Angus Farquhar, creative director of NVA, said: “This is an historic moment in the life of St Peter’s Seminary. We are now able to start work on its permanent transformation into an international cultural centre that will speak to the creative life of Europe.”

He added: “We have real hope that our vision for progressive, socially-focussed art will connect strongly with people and together we will forge a new place for public art and its significance in the world. We thank Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland for joining us in the vision and ambition for the site and investing in its future.”

Restoration and conversion

The funding of £3,806,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £400,000 from Creative Scotland will enable NVA to carry out its restoration project. The triple-height chapel will be partially restored and converted into a 600-capacity venue, while the former sacristy and crypt will be used for exhibitions.

Other aspects of the building will be made safe in order to allow public access to events and performances on the site. Extensive work will also be carried out on the surrounding 104-acre rural estate which includes the remains of the 15th century Kilmahew Castle.

The works will include the restoration of a 19th century path network and historic bridges, while a Victorian walled garden will be brought back into use.

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “After 25 years of decline, this ground-breaking project has the potential to save an internationally significant building, exploiting its commanding presence to produce an exceptional arts venue.”

Philip Deverell, director of strategy at Creative Scotland, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the vision of NVA to bring this iconic and well-loved building back to life as an exciting and ambitious creative space for future generations to discover and enjoy.”

Brian McLaren, Chair of NVA, described the funding as a “very significant investment into the revitalisation of St Peter’s Seminary and Kilmahew Estate”, adding that with the “incredible support from private donors, funders and members of the local community, this investment now helps to secure a new future for this extraordinary place”.

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Pictures of… St Peter’s Seminary, a modernist ruin reanimated at night