Conon Bridge Churches

Conon Bridge Community Collage

If you find asbestos, be prepared for disruption!

Chapter 8

The Asbestos Saga


In the Spring of 2013 some electrical work was required in Ferintosh Church and, when the electrician investigated the possibility of putting wiring underfloor, he found there the pipes associated with the long-redundant hot water heating system.  Alarmingly, they were coated in asbestos!

The Congregational Board debated two options:  (a) leave the asbestos undisturbed, or (b) remove it.  Option (a) would require little or no financial burden, but option (b) would stretch the congregation's finances considerably.  In the event, it was agreed that leaving the situation to future generations was not a responsible action, and so a specialist was engaged to tackle the immediate problem.

Although the annexe was not affected by asbestos, it emerged that the entire Church would have to be cleared completely of pews, seats, electrical heating, carpeting, etc. before the specialists could begin.

That raised the question of how to save the pews in their entirety?  Due to their length it would be impossible to remove them and, if sawed in half, or sections,  how could they be re-connected successfully?  It appeared that the days of the pews were over and they must be replaced with seating.

Similarly, the 40 year old heating system would have to be replaced, and as the original floorboards could be contaminated by the asbestos, the area of the Church from chancel to rear wall would require a new floor of some modern material rather than expensive wood.   In turn, this area would require to be carpeted and a certain amount of redecoration would be required.  Costs were mounting alarmingly!

Church of Scotland HQ gave a grant to cover the removal of the asbestos; the congregation responded magnificently to an appeal;  various fund-raising schemes were put in place;  the pews were sold;  and the Treasurer plundered reserves!

As part of fund-raising a Flower Festival was organised by members of Ross-shire Flower Club, the theme being Flowers in Praise.  The displays were spectacular, and here are only a few.


Photos by Mhairi Mackenzie

While fund-raising proceeded, various contractors were engaged for post-asbestos work.

The church before removal of the asbestos.  (J W Bremner)

Asbestos-covered pipes removed.  The joists are in remarkable shape, apart from right side, considering the Church was flooded in the 1960s when the River Conon burst its banks. 

Area awaiting new joists.

Very few joists requiring attention on this side.

Kenneth Ross, joiner, at work.  Insulation in place between joists.

Ready for new floor.

Floor complete.

Main area with new floor and new heating.

Interior as it was.

October 2013.  Last minute touches before first Sunday worship in refurbished Church.

The winter of 2013-2014 brought more expense when a large limb of the "squinty tree" was brought down in a storm and the services of a tree surgeon had to be secured.  A member of the congregation with a fascination for such work had time to record only the first stages of the procedure!

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