The story behind the rebuilding of the belfry is interesting - and frustrating!
The Parish Church was built in Auchtermuchty in 1780/81 with an attractive and unusual six-column bell tower. In 1991, it was brought to the attention of the Congregational Board that the belfry was in need of repair.
This was duly taken in hand and following a period of local fundraising and some grant money, the belfry was repaired at a cost of some £8,000.
In May 1994 cracks were noticed at the top and bottom of the columns. An expert opinion stated that the construction was at fault because it was too rigid.
Stainless steel rods had been used within the columns and rigid grout at both top and bottom did not allow for necessary movement.
For safety the belfry would need to have scaffolding erected until a decision was made on how to proceed. This scaffolding was in place for 18 months and
finally the decision was made to dismantle the belfry completely.
The cost of all this between 1995 and 1997 was almost £7,000. After taking much legal advice it was stated that we could not claim any compensation from the builder as it was deemed a genuine mistake and not an act of negligence.
So, in six years the congregation of Auchtermuchty and Dunshalt Parish Church had spent some £15,000 and all there was to show for it was a pile of stones which could not be reused. (The mortar used in the belfry repair was so hard that the stones broke before the mortar during dismantling.)
A survey by Historic Scotland highlighted other areas requiring work. This would need to be done as a condition of being awarded a grant.
Because of the amount of work required it was agreed to break the project into two phases with Phase 1 being the Belfry and West End of the building and Phase 2 being the other three elevations.
In 1997, the current project got underway with the help of David Murdoch of Murdoch Chartered Architects, Methven Castle, Perth.
After many long and frustrating years of struggling with shifting goalposts and searching for funding, the belfry has indeed been rebuilt!
The grand sum of £68,000 was raised from a variety of sources and work on Phase 1 began in September 2002 with completion in February 2003. Phase 2 included re-pointing and roof work to the main building and was completed in early 2005. A total cost for both phases of some £140,000. However, the fabric is now in very good order throughout.
The people of Auchtermuchty and Dunshalt worked extremely hard to keep their Church alive. The fabric may have been in need of repair but the heart was and still is strong.
The congregation is committed to their task and no-one who visits could fail to feel the warmth of the 'Muchty welcome.
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