St Peter's College, Cardross entrance

For years now we have driven through Cardross on our way to Geilston Gardens or Helensburgh and architect husband would mention St Peter’s College, hidden somewhere among the trees overlooking the Firth of Clyde. A place renowned for it’s Brutalist / Modernist Architecture created by Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan  of  Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. Hugely influenced by Le Corbusier architecture in France but alas our climates are poles apart!

I have heard of the sunlight filtering through the glulam beams lighting up the sanctuary, of the avant garde design, the processional ramp, wood and concrete interior and brutalist exterior, nestled in a woodland setting. Sadly after only a few years use, the seminary was vacated and deconsecrated, turning into a drug rehabilitation centre before falling into disuse and becoming a playground for substance abuse, graffiti artists and fire raisers.

On the “Buildings at Risk” register for years, finally Scotland is beginning to realise what a treasure this burnt out, graffiti scrawled building is about. Last night we joined some of the 7,500 people who have bought tickets to visit Hinterland. Groups of about 200 left Helensburgh Pier in buses at regular intervals, driving along the moonlit roads until reaching a clearing in the woods to the sound of choral singing and the Shofar. Equipped with lit walking poles we followed the group along the woodland path – and met my friend and her architect husband; reassured that it was amazing and yes, full of architects! Ravaged by time, weather and mischief, the building stands forlorn yet exuding something beautiful. A place of meaning and as one person described it – pilgrimage. Hubby remarked that he had just had his first spiritual, secular experience!

I must admit to feeling sad that such a wonderful place had all but been destroyed, wanting to see it in the daylight so I could make sense of the space and structure. Hopefully now that we understand what we have lost, maybe St Peter’s College can be saved?


Interior, looking to the high Altar (I think!)

Looking over to Greenock & Port Glasgow, Helensburgh peir

Walking back through the holly trees, by now exceedingly cold, we joined the other ‘pilgrims’ talking excitedly about what they had seen and heard. Waiting for the buses to return, the next 200 appeared for their tour. Arriving back at Helensburgh Pier we looked over the Firth to Greenock and Port Glasgow, once great hubs of industry, ship building and shipping. and reflected how much has changed in our short lives!

Thanks for stopping by today, been busy trying to get the garden aright but its good to get out and visit too!

If you are wondering what I’m fussing about would you do this to Robert Venturi, Lloyd-Wright, Corbusier, Guuner Asplund???