City councillor backs campaign bid to restore iconic church branded 'Porty's Gothic treasure'

A city councillor is calling for the Portobello community to rally round and help save an iconic church amid fears of cash shortage for much-needed repairs.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 12:32 pm

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Councillor Maureen Child has thrown her weight behind a campaign to fund urgent repairs to the iconic St John the Evangelist Church on Sandford Gardens, just a few steps from the heart of Portobello

Extensive work costing up to £350,000 is required to repair the A-listed monument and neo-gothic steeple, described by the church as ‘Porty’s Gothic Treasure.’

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St John's appeal for urgent support for restoration works

But church ministers said future fundraising for around £150,000 of the amount needed has now become ‘a growing concern’.

The parish priest has appealed for people to pitch in and support the campaign to fund the range of works needed from masonry to leadwork to secure the tower for future generations.

Councillor Child, who represents Portobello/Craigmillar, said: “It is such an important landmark, not least to everyone approaching Edinburgh by train from the south. But it is a major community asset for all of us as well as a category A listed building.

“We need to be good stewards for our heritage, and it is heartening to see such enthusiasm already.”

Parish priest, Father Jock Dalrymple, said: “The tower is now facing the test of time and urgent work is beginning to repair and maintain this much-loved landmark and to protect it for generations to come.

“It has watched over the people of Edinburgh since 1906 and is now a vibrant hub of care and support for many in the surrounding area.

“It is not solely a tower to faith, but a monument to the strength, resilience and shared vision of the entire community.”

"The people of Portobello and St John the Evangelist Church are appealing to all, to consider taking part in protecting this A listed monument and being a part of the project to ensure this steeple continues to watch over the next 100 years and beyond.”

Local resident and renowned architectural historian Professor Ian Campbell described the historic feature as an ‘enigma’.

He added: “On the East Coast mainline, the tower of St John’s is a landmark heralding the approach of Edinburgh.

“I first saw it on my first trip to Edinburgh by train and was struck by its distinctive rocket-like shape. It is an enigma, as the obscure architect J. T. Walford built nothing else like it.”

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