Travelling from old to new:

How the Trinity was transformed

Trinity Church has been reborn after an extensive refurbishment.

But what are the origins of the landmark building, and how did it come back to life?

The history

Designed by Edinburgh architect Frederick Thomas Pilkington, Trinity Church opened its doors to worshippers in December 1863. The spire, stretching 120 feet into the Ayrshire sky, was completed six years later.

The 27 June 1862 edition of Building News estimated the building cost at £4,000 and the distinctive Venetian-Gothic church was described by a local newspaper as “the most truly beautiful structure in the West of Scotland”.

Built for the Reverend William B Robertson, the Trinity could accommodate up to 750 worshippers.

With all the pews facing his pulpit, the Reverend commanded the attention of everyone as he delivered his lyrical sermons, which earned him the nickname of the ‘Poet Preacher’.

As distinctive now as it was back then, the rose wheel window was designed by Glasgow artist and designer Daniel Cottier, one of the most influential stained glass artists in Scotland. 

His first major piece of public work, the interior of the church featured four ornately carved stone columns supporting finely carved capitals, with a church hall adjoining to the rear via a polygonally-roofed chapter house.

By the time he moved to London in 1869, Cottier was already part of an influential and avart garde group of designers, many of them also expatriate Scots, who established the Aesthetic Movement in England.

Functioning as a Free Church of Scotland for the next hundred years or more, the Trinity dominated the Irvine skyline in its elevated position above the River Irvine beside the town bridge.

However, the church closed its doors in 1966 and fell into a state of disrepair.

The restoration

After over fifty years of decline, the Irvine Bay Development Company finally secured the building in 2009.

Irvine Bay faced many challenges in bringing the once-majestic building back to its former glory – not least of which were its winged inhabitants. Hundreds of pigeons had made their home in the Trinity, bringing with them a whole host of problems.

Birds of prey were used to scare the pigeons away.

With the pigeons moved on, the church had to be cleaned from top to bottom, but that still left a badly-damaged building.

Major work was carried out to restore the Trinity over the following five years – from its spire to the stained glass windows.

Local school children were consulted on the design of new elements for the Trinity, including the stained glass windows, the weathervane and the pillar carvings.

And whilst the building has its roots firmly in the past, it will have a key role to play for the people of North Ayrshire in years to come.

Timeline

2009
2009

Work begins

Work begins
Irvine Bay Development Company begins the restoration, tackling a pigeon infestation and the subsequent cleanup.
2010
2010

New roof

New roof
A new roof is completed and a comprehensive survey of the church spire carried out. As a result of the survey, North Ayrshire Council provides additional funding to carry out initial upgrade works to the spire.
2011
2011

Repairs funded

Repairs funded
Historic Scotland Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme provides £500,000 funding towards comprehensive repair works of the main church and hall, along with conservation work on the tower and spire.
2012
2012

Window designs chosen

Window designs chosen
After a competition amongst Irvine pupils, stained glass window designs by Rachel Janson of Greenwood Academy and Kirsten Murdoch of Irvine Royal Academy are selected as the winning entries to be installed at the front of the church. Further refurbishment work starts on site for 42 weeks.
2013
2013

Cycle Friendly Town

Cycle Friendly Town
In February, the Irvine Cycle Friendly Town Study (ICFT) recognises the potential of Irvine to make active travel a viable option for everyday journeys. This leads to the development of North Ayrshire Council’s behaviour change project, Travel Smart.
2013

Weathervane selected

Weathervane selected
Greenwood Academy pupil Lucy Hulbert’s winning design is chosen as the new weathervane for the church spire. The stunning new stained glass windows are reinstated following the removal of the rose window.
2014
2014

Restoration completed

Restoration completed
Restoration works are completed by Irvine Bay Development Company.
2016
2016

Research begins

Research begins
In January, funding is secured from Transport Scotland and the Energy Savings Trust to investigate the potential to develop an active travel hub in Irvine.
2017
2017

ERDF funding secured

ERDF funding secured
An application is made to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund which secures funding for the creation of the new hub.
2018
2018

Hub moves forward

Hub moves forward
In February 2018, Kate Cuthbert is appointed as the new Active Travel Hub Officer. Designs for the interior of the church are drawn up over the summer, with a construction company appointed in September and work beginning in October.
2019
2019

Launch

Launch
Work on the hub is completed in January 2019, with Active Travel Officer Jessica Gillespie appointed in March. After a soft launch over the Easter weekend with lots of activities for the community, the Trinity and Closed Cycle Loop are officially opened on 25 June by Lee Craigie, Active Nation Commissioner.

Back to the future

In recent years, the Trinity has entered the final stage of its transformation.

Not only is the A listed building standing as strong as ever, it has been given new life as the active travel hub. Sitting in the town centre, the hub is ideally placed for engagement with people coming to the town to work, shop or play.

After bright beginnings, the Trinity has emerged from uncertain times to find a new purpose for the future, as it helps the people of North Ayrshire on their journey to a more active lifestyle.

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