Govan Old Church to Harness Clean Energy from the River Clyde

A Historic Site Goes Green with Net Zero Funding

Govan Old Church, a Grade A listed building that houses one of the most remarkable collections of early medieval sculptures in Europe, is set to become more sustainable and energy-efficient thanks to a £150,000 grant from the SP Energy Networks’ Net Zero Fund. The fund is a £5 million initiative that supports vulnerable communities across Central and Southern Scotland to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

The grant will enable the Govan Heritage Trust, which owns and maintains the church and the sculptures, to install a new river source heat pump that will draw heat from the River Clyde and provide heating and hot water to the building. This will result in a 93% reduction in carbon emissions and a 20% saving in energy costs for the trust.

The trust is one of the recipients of the first round of the Net Zero Fund, which awarded a total of £1.25 million to 14 projects that aim to improve the sustainability and resilience of local communities. The fund is now open for the second round of applications, welcoming proposals from eligible charities and community groups that have low carbon net zero plans.

The Govan Stones: A Treasure of Glasgow’s History

The Govan Old Church is home to the Govan Stones, a collection of 31 carved stones that date back to the Viking era, between the 9th and 11th centuries. The stones are considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Glasgow, as they reveal the rich and complex history of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, which once stretched from Glasgow to Cumbria.

Govan Old Church to Harness Clean Energy

The stones were first discovered in the churchyard in 1855, but some of them were accidentally destroyed in the 1980s when they were mistaken for debris during the demolition of a nearby shipyard. Since then, the trust and the local community have been working hard to preserve and promote the site, with the help of Professor Stephen Driscoll from the University of Glasgow, who led the latest excavations in 2023.

The stones include various types of monuments, such as crosses, hogbacks, and sarcophagi, that display intricate carvings and symbols. Some of the most notable stones are the Sun Stone, which depicts a sun surrounded by four beasts, the Jordanhill Cross, which is the largest and most ornate cross in the collection, and the Govan Sarcophagus, which is the only one of its kind in Britain and may have belonged to a king or a saint.

A Vision for the Future of Govan Old Church

The trust has a vision to transform the Govan Old Church into a world-class heritage centre that showcases the Govan Stones and their significance for the history and culture of Glasgow and Scotland. The trust also aims to make the church a hub for the community, offering various activities and events, such as workshops, exhibitions, concerts, and festivals.

The installation of the river source heat pump is part of the trust’s wider plan to refurbish and upgrade the church, which was built in 1888 and closed in 2007. The trust hopes that by making the building more comfortable and environmentally friendly, it will attract more visitors and generate more income for the maintenance and conservation of the site.

The trust’s chair, Cynthia Guthrie, said: “We are delighted to receive this grant from the Net Zero Fund, which will make a huge difference to our project. The river source heat pump will not only reduce our carbon footprint and energy bills, but also improve the conditions for the Govan Stones, which need a stable temperature and humidity to prevent deterioration. We are very grateful to SP Energy Networks for their support and recognition of the importance of our site.”

Scott Mathieson, Network Planning and Regulation Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “We are proud to support the Govan Heritage Trust and their efforts to preserve and promote one of Glasgow’s most historic sites. The Govan Old Church is a treasure trove of cultural and archaeological heritage, and we are glad to help them achieve their net zero goals and become more sustainable and resilient. The trust is a great example of how communities can benefit from the transition to a low carbon future.”

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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