One of Glasgow’s most historic buildings is to be heated by river water as part of a groundbreaking project to improve sustainability of the building and reduce costs.

Govan Old Parish Church, on the south bank of the River Clyde, was built in 1888 and stands on a religious site dating back to the sixth century.

In 2007, Reverend Tom Davidson Kelly, a former minister of Govan Old, described it as “possibly the most significant church in Glasgow, including the Cathedral”. 

Govan Heritage Trust, which is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of Govan Old, will use the funding to install a new river source heat pump, resulting in a 93% reduction in carbon emissions and a 20% saving in energy costs.

READ MORE: Heat harvested from Clyde to provide energy to historic church in Glasgow first

The pump, which will be located below water level, will extract and return water to be used in the heating of Govan Old in a closed loop system. 

The project will be the first time this form of sustainable heat generation has been used in a historic building in Glasgow. 

Govan Heritage Trust is one of the recipients of SP Energy Networks’ Net Zero Fund – a £5million funding pot designed to help communities across Central and Southern Scotland develop their net zero plans.

Scott Mathieson, Network Planning and Regulation Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “SP Energy Networks takes pride in serving all of the communities of Central and Southern Scotland.

The Herald: Heat harvested from the River Clyde will provide energy to Govan OldHeat harvested from the River Clyde will provide energy to Govan Old

“Our staff and networks are part of the fabric of the central belt and it’s right therefore that we play our part in ensuring the most vulnerable customers in our areas also obtain access to the benefits that zero emission energy can bring in transport, heat and jobs.

“The projects awarded in our first round of our Net Zero Fund are diverse and the ingenuity of these community led schemes is inspiring. We feel privileged to help them realise their net zero future.

“Our next funding round is now open, and we’re welcoming applications from eligible charities and community groups looking to accelerate their net zero plans.”

The oldest known Christian site in Glasgow, Govan Old has 31 pre-Christian and Christian sculptured stones, including five hogback monuments dating back to the ninth and 10th centuries, which are thought to have been originally used as grave markers. The sculptures represent one of the largest collections of early medieval stones in Scotland.

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The stones were first discovered in the churchyard in 1855, however several were accidentally destroyed in the 1980s when they were mistaken for debris during the demolition of a neighbouring shipyard. Since then, a community effort has been placed on maintaining and restoring the site – with Professor Stephen Driscoll at the University of Glasgow leading the latest excavations just last year.

Following the closure of Govan Old Church in 2007, the community-run trust took over ownership of the listed building and the Govan Stones.

The church is currently being transformed into a museum to showcase the site’s heritage and expects to welcome over 14,000 visitors each year.

The renovations will also offer a meeting space for local organisations and charities such as those catering for elderly and isolated members of the community, groups welcoming and supporting refugees, organisations working with Govan’s youth and local schools looking to learn about heritage.

Speaking on the support, Pat Cassidy, a Trustee of Govan Heritage Trust, said: “The Govan Stones are one of Scotland’s most remarkable historic artifacts, and the church itself has become a landmark in the local community.

“This funding will allow us to make much-needed improvements to our current infrastructure. Not only will we be able to lower our emissions, but we’ll also benefit from a significant saving on our energy bills and be able to focus on the renovations and provide an affordable meeting space for local groups, charities, and organisations to use.

“Two of our longest-standing members, Robert and Catriona Preston, first met in the church back in 1956 when they were in the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade and even held their wedding here in 1962. To this day, they remain an active part of our community and it’s this sense of legacy that the funding will help us safeguard – ensuring both the people of Govan and visitors can make their own memories here for years to come.”