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St Fillan's Roman Catholic Church, 18 King Street, Newport on Tay

A Category B Listed Building in Newport-On-Tay, Fife

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Latitude: 56.4414 / 56°26'29"N

Longitude: -2.938 / 2°56'16"W

OS Eastings: 342264

OS Northings: 728084

OS Grid: NO422280

Mapcode National: GBR VL.B5HZ

Mapcode Global: WH7RJ.VC49

Entry Name: St Fillan's Roman Catholic Church, 18 King Street, Newport on Tay

Listing Date: 27 November 2013

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 401941

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52123

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Newport-On-Tay

County: Fife

Town: Newport-On-Tay

Electoral Ward: Tay Bridgehead

Traditional County: Fife

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1886. Single storey, L-plan, timber and corrugated iron church with triangular-headed windows, located on a sloping site between the King Street and Queen Street in a residential area of Newport-on-Tay. Tall pyramidal ventilator cap to roof ridge with pierced timber base and cross-finial. Slightly lower transept outshot to north forming L-plan. Gabled porch outshot with trefoil decoration to west with window to west and timber door to north. Bipartite window to east gable. Timber eaves to gables with square-cut decoration. Brick base.

Timber-framed, 4-pane glazing to windows. Cast iron rainwater goods.

The interior was seen in 2013 and consists of timber panelled walls, timber pews (from another church), ambry recess and plinth with decorative timber surround. Cross-braced timber ceiling frame, resting on timber corbels. Trefoil headed glazed panels to doors.

Statement of Interest

Place of worship in use as such.

St Fillan's in Newport-on-Tay was built in 1886 and its L-plan footprint appears as it does now on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1893. It is a rare surviving example of a largely unaltered chapel built of corrugated iron and timber. It is one of the few corrugated iron churches in the country that remains in use for its intended purpose. The survival of original architectural details such as the pyramidal-capped ventilator in the style of a bellcote, the triangular-headed timber windows and interior detailing are rare for this temporary building type, commonly known as a 'tin tabernacle'.

Tin tabernacles were constructed from standardised corrugated iron sheets on a wooden frame. As the technology required to standardise and pre-fabricate building components became readily available in the latter half of the 19th century, many hundreds of these relatively modest and easily assembled buildings were built across the country. The earliest known surviving corrugated iron building is the Iron Ballroom of 1851 (see separate listing) on the Balmoral Estate in the Cairngorms National Park. The vast majority of these modest buildings have been demolished, replaced, or no longer used for their intended purpose. The 50 or so tin tabernacles that survive (2013) reflect, to varying degrees, this important period in engineering and manufacturing as well as Scotland's religious history.

The increased need for new churches was partly due to a number of schisms in the Church in Scotland including the Disruption of 1843 which saw the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. Congregations were also expanding due to social unease and the upheaval caused by the Industrial Revolution. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Scotland (which was suppressed during the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century) was restored in 1878 and the parish of Newport-on-Tay was included in the Diocese of Dunkeld. Around this time a mission station was opened in a private dwelling house in nearby Tayport with a congregation of about 25 people. By 1886, the station now known as St Fillan's was built on a gap site at 20 King Street, Newport-on-Tay. The widespread adoption of the 'tin tabernacle' was well established by 1886 and St Fillan's is an early and rare example of the building type for use as a Roman Catholic chapel.

Numerous companies formed to specialise in the design and manufacture of partly-prefabricated iron and timber buildings and by the 1880s, the client could choose various designs and elements from a manufacturer's pattern book to suit their purposes and budget. While the company that manufactured St Fillan's Church in Newport is not currently known, its design is akin to those produced by Frederick Braby, or Spiers and Company of Glasgow. The design of the window frames suggest that this is a Spiers building. Spiers were in operation from the 1880s to the 1930s, describing themselves as 'Designers and Erectors of Iron and Wood Buildings'.

Examples of tin tabernacles which have been recognised through listing include the St Fillan's at Killin, Stirlingshire; Dulnain in the Highlands; Lady of Mercy at Aberfeldy, Perthshire; Dalswinton in Dumfries and St Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Earlsferry (see separate listings).

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