AN HISTORIC Borders church has set a new bench-mark for the future with a £340,000 revamp that will include the removal of its 150-year-old pews.

Space has long been an issue at Eyemouth Parish Church and the fixed pews are at the root of the problem.

Now they are to be removed to create a large indoor space under the gallery for community events, relieving the pressure on the church hall.

Happily the pews are to be sold off with the monies raised going towards the refurbishment.

Additionally, a new environmentally-friendly heating system is to be installed.

The work is expected to start next Spring with around half of the funding coming from the Church of Scotland.

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The project was recently bolstered with a £50,000 grant from the Fallago Environment Fund, which shares the benefits of the Fallago Rig Wind Farm right across the Scottish Borders.

The work can’t start soon enough for church minister Andy Haddow, who in November celebrates a decade serving the parishes of Eyemouth, Coldingham and St Abbs.

Mr Haddow said: “The church is one of the largest indoor spaces in the town and it’s a traditional church in terms of pews and its cast iron heating system, which unfortunately makes it extremely inflexible for any other use other than a Sunday morning and for concerts, and even then it is hard work because the seats are not very comfortable.

“The idea is to make the space available to the community any day of the week. We have a church hall that is used really regularly and we are aware that there is a need for more space.

“We’re removing the pews and replacing the heating system, which are cast iron pipes under the pews. There will also be an accessible toilet and a new entrance which will be level-access.

“The plan is to sell the pews because there is a fairly good market in old pews and we’ve already had quite a number of people saying they’d like to buy a pew from the church, some people have close connections to the pews. There was one lady whose grandfather had scratched his name into one of the pews, because that’s where he was sat when he was at school, so we’re selling them off to those who’d like them.”

The church will be acquiring some comfortable moveable chairs to replace the pews but pews in the gallery are to be retained.