The Melness Church - opened in 1902

Melness Church looking East - Photo © Iain Morrison 2006

In the mid 1890’s the Rev Cathel Kerr was appointed minister. Shortly after his arrival he and the Kirk Session put in hand plans to build a new Church. Whilst money was being collected for the project the Boer War began. Rev. Kerr went to South Africa as an Army Chaplain and died of fever there. Planning and fund raising went on, now partly as a memorial to Rev Kerr. There was a feeling locally that the Church should have been named the Kerr Memorial Church.

Following some argument about the site for the Church, building believed to have started in 1896. It was very much a local effort, Hugh Gunn of Midtown and George Mackay of West Strathen, the first a stonemason and the second a joiner, had the main contracts and their employees were local men. The stone was quarried at Croe nan Gobhar, on the hill to the west of the road between Crossroads and Lubinvulin. The timber was brought by ship to Scrabster and was brought by sloops, owned by Talmine men, to the pier.

The original plans included the porch and bell tower but as work progressed the money ran out. Hugh Gunn, the stonemason, completed the porch at his own expense with help given free. The bell tower was not built until 1950, when some money became available after the closure of the “Cornhill Church”. Using the original plans, Cathol McKenzie, William McLeod and Alfred McKay carried out the work, building the tower of concrete blocks which were cast at the side of the church and hoisted into position.

This ends the information found on a sheet of paper in the Manse.

There is, of course, no longer a bell tower - it lasted barely more than four decades before storms took their toll. Correspondence on this subject, held by George Murray, Clerk to the Congregational Board, begins in February 1993. Removal of the belfry required the permission of Presbytery, the General Trustees, and the Advisory Committee on Artistic matters. The Insurance Company had to be persuaded to part with some money, a steeplejack firm had to be employed to do the work, and scaffolding had to be erected. In order to meet the cost of removing the belfry and replacing the beams above the door, there was a “Beam In” appeal, which brought in over £4,000 (Source: Minutes of the Congregational Board of Melness Church).

The Church was finally paid off in 1912, as the following extract from the Presbytery Minutes shows:

Book 3 Jan 3rd 1906
At Tongue 3rd July 1912

The Collecting book for Melness was returned, showing a sum of £165: 7:10 Collected up to date. The book is now cancelled – the sum collected having met the whole existing debt on the congregational buildings.

Thanks to the Rev John Mackie for some of this information - updates and corrections added by myself due to research in the Fasti's, The Northern Times etc.

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Melness Pier Photo © Iain Morrison Welcome to the Melness Internet Site. This is a labour of love for me. It is a celebration of all that makes Melness a wonderful place. It holds so many fantastic memories for me, growing up there until going to School in Golspie. It is a celebration of the people, their culture, history, music, poetry and heritage. I hope you like the new design and find the site easy to use. There are lots of new pages and resources to enjoy and many more to come in the future. Enjoy, Iain