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Community / No community proposals put to Church of Scotland for Tingwall Kirk

The Tingwall Kirk.

THERE are doubts over whether the Tingwall Kirk will ultimately stay as a community building, according to the chairman of the local community council.

The Church of Scotland building went on the market earlier this summer with an asking price of offers over £55,000.

Andrew Archer, who chairs the Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Community Council, said there is a widely held view among residents that the historic building should stay in the community.

But there remains concern that a viable and practical proposal may not come forward.

Meanwhile the Church of Scotland said there has been some interest in the B-listed property’s sale, but nothing concrete.

There is a strength of feeling around the Tingwall Kirk, which is surrounded by a graveyard, given its long history.

It was one of many kirks earmarked for closure by the Church of Scotland in 2018 as it sought to reduce its estate in Shetland.

Some churches have been taken over by the community, but some others are set for a new lease of life, such as the Hillswick Kirk – which is being readied for a conversion into a family home.

Local resident Hazel Jamieson attended a recent meeting of the community council to express her desire to keep the Tingwall church for weddings, funerals and other events.

“I think that Hazel’s view is widely shared,” Archer said.

“I have spoken recently to a couple of people who either have loved ones in the graveyard at Tingwall or who used to be in the congregation there and they would love to see it saved.

“At the same time, none of them could see any practical, sustainable project that would keep it for community use.

“Hazel contacted the community council and we discussed it at our meeting [last Wednesday] but we were of the same opinion. 

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“It’s a great spot with a fantastic car park but, unless somebody comes forward with a practical plan of how it can be run and maintained on an ongoing basis, I’m afraid that I don’t see it staying as a community building.”

A spokesperson for the Church of Scotland said there has been some interest in Tingwall Kirk, but the building is still on the market and no closing date has been set.

“Despite extensive publicity over almost four years no community group has come forward with proposals,” they added.

Meanwhile Archer questioned if anyone would want it as a house given it is surrounded by burial grounds.

“Have we been trampled in the stampede of people getting in touch saying yes, something must happen – no we haven’t,” he said.

Archer added that there was a feeling among some in the community that the Church of Scotland made the wrong in decision in selling Tingwall but keeping the Scalloway kirk open.

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