Purpose of investment
For developement of bistro area in Websters theatre.
Investment package: Start & Grow
Sector: Arts and Culture
Social outcomes:, Employment, training and education
Placing the “Church” at the heart of the community
Lansdowne Parish Church is an iconic landmark on Glasgow’s Great Western Road. This former A-listed Gothic Revival Church built in 1863, is now home to Websters – a 180 seat theatre, bar and bistro.
The team behind the transformation from a place of worship to a community asset is Four Acres Charitable Trust (FACT Three). FACT Three has a successful track record in taking unloved Victorian buildings and restoring them in accordance with the highest conservation standards. Glaswegians may not familiar with FACT Three, but will almost certainly be aware of their work. In the late 1980’s their first project was transforming the former Dowanhill Church into what is now Cottiers Theatre.
The experience and skills developed in creating Cottiers gave FACT Three the confidence to take on this second project. Fact Three took ownership of Lansdowne Church in 2013 and immediately began the church’s transformation. Websters Theatre opened in 2015, followed by the bar and bistro in 2016.
FACT Three received a £60K investment from Resilient Scotland to build a fully functioning commercial kitchen and develop the bistro.
The investment from Resilient Scotland came at a crucial time and gave them a flexibility not offered by other investors. It empowered FACT Three to make decisions on how and where the
money was spent.
David Robertson, FACT Three Director said, “It can be difficult to have a readymade project which matches a funder’s conditions. Resilient removes this requirement and provides us as a business with the flexibility to direct the money to where it is most needed. The investment has also enabled us to leverage additional funds.”
The bar is open, but the transformation is of the premises is ongoing. Visitors can enjoy many of the original features of the church, including the bar seats and wooden panelling, which are handcrafted from the church pews. The stone fireplaces have been reinstated, the décor in the bar is a replica of a design uncovered in the church and the magnificent wooden bar gantry was salvaged from a west-end chemist.
One of the outstanding features of the church is the stained glass windows designed by Alfred Webster and the plan is to restore these to their former glory. The upper area of the church will become a much needed community hall, which local groups will be able to use. The plans don’t stop with the interior, FACT Three wish to create a public square at the front entrance, with steps down to the River Kelvin.
FACT Three want to place Websters Theatre firmly at the heart of the community, providing a space which everyone can enjoy, whilst attracting people from outside the area to what they hope will become one of Glasgow’s most vibrant arts and entertainment venues. If the success of Cottiers is replicated then it won’t be long before Webster’s ambitions are realised.