Polwarth Church plans for Edinburgh’s first floating kirk

Lord Provost Frank Ross and Cllr Gavin Corbet with volunteers and service users 
at Polwarth Parish Church. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Lord Provost Frank Ross and Cllr Gavin Corbet with volunteers and service users at Polwarth Parish Church. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Couples with a hankering for a wedding with a difference could soon swap the church altar for the helm of a narrowboat as plans for the city’s first floating kirk progress.

Proposals have already been put together for a pontoon and dedicated mooring behind Polwarth Parish Church.

Church leaders hope that the project, called the Kirk on the Canal, will allow them to take advantage of the unique 
location beside the Union Canal and are redoubling efforts to raise money for a second-hand narrowboat which could be used for wedding ceremonies or Sunday School services, and by local primary schools.

The church is aiming to raise a five-figure sum for the boat – which will be permanently moored but not static – with the help of Church of Scotland funding, grant applications and a “Float The Boat” campaign.

Reverend Jack Holt, minister of Polwarth Parish Church, said: “The third part of the plan which will be able to be done in earnest now, to fundraise and to enable us to provide our own barge.

“We’ve been doing that fundraising over the last few years, through Float Our Boat, and we hope that funding and perhaps help from Church of Scotland will enable us to secure the boat itself.”

He added: “Scottish Canals are also going to be doing work to create a mooring and steps from the garden to the water.”

When the successful “doer-upper” boat has been purchased, the church hopes members of a new project, which is run by the Scottish Waterways Trust, will help get it into a water-worthy condition.

The Canal Shed project allows people to meet up in a relaxed and inclusive environment, get involved with a range of practical activities, share skills and learn about the history of local waterways.

Anna Canning, Canal Shed project manager for Scottish Waterways Trust, said: “Scotland’s canals once stoked the fires of the industrial revolution, and today they play an important part in communities as places to learn, restore and get active.

“The Canal Shed project will provide local people with a welcoming space to exchange skills, learn new skills such as biodiversity surveying and printmaking, meet new people and take part in practical activities outdoors which care for our special waterways environment.”

Lord Provost Frank Ross has expressed support for the floating kirk and Canal Shed projects. He said: “The church is so well placed here along the canal.

“It’s situated at a true crossroads. The fact it can become the focal point for the community is great.”

He added: “There’s not many organisations that could have the same impact locally.”