Former St Kentigern’s Church, Hidden Behind Edinburgh Tenements

The former St Kentigern's Church in Edinburgh, Scotland.(Image: Kim Traynor. The former St Kentigern’s Church by Edinburgh’s Union Canal)

Take a stroll over the Viewforth Bridge – which crosses Edinburgh‘s Union Canal and connects the Fountainbridge area to Gilmore Place – and you may notice a curious abandoned church standing on a seemingly-inaccessible plot of land behind a row of Victorian tenements. The structure, long disused for its original purpose, has been steadily hemmed in by modern canal-side redevelopment. The land around it, which is accessed via a gated pend under St Peter’s Place, is now used for private car parking.

The forgotten Episcopalian church has been threatened with demolition. (Image: Thomas Nugent)

The intriguing ecclesiastical structure was once St Kentigern’s Church, a mission station of St John’s Episcopal Church in the city’s West End. St Kentigern’s was designed by Scottish architect John More Dick Peddie (of Caledonian Waldorf Astoria fame) and opened in 1897. It ceased operating as a church in 1941. Subsequently used as a garage and nursery, it later became a warehouse.Built in 1897, St Kentigern's Church by the Union Canal closed in 1941 and was later used as a nursery and warehouse.(Image: Mr H)

There were plans some years ago to demolish the abandoned church and replace it with a mixed use development incorporating modern flats and a bar amid ongoing redevelopment along the Union Canal. But concerns were raised by local residents and preservationists who didn’t want the historic structure flattened.

(Image: Stephen Craven)

David McDonald of the Cockburn Association told the Scotsman: “Apart from the building’s appealing scale and aesthetics, it is also one of very few buildings of historic interest on this section of the Union Canal. Saving this building will help safeguard a diversity of building styles on the canal frontage. Potential uses we envisage could include a cafe, restaurant, nursery, office or even a residential unit.”

In 2015, the Edinburgh Evening News reported that a police swoop on the former St Kentigern’s Church had revealed an extensive cannabis farm with a street value of £50,000 to £75,000. Fast forward several years and the handsome Episcopalian building still endures, its environs shrouded by greenery amid the encroaching developments of today.

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