Ardrossan’s coastline view is admired all over the world and instantly recognisable – why? Because the former Barony St John church soars into the skyline like a rocket reaching for the stars. And, in a way, that is what Ardrossan needs to do – reach for the stars.
I’ve been harping on about saving the Barony St John for five years now, but for those of you who haven’t heard or don’t know my plans, here is a short explanation.
Once all the pews are taken out of the church building, it is just a large, two storey building with a fantastic organ feature.
It can become many things but the one thing YOU the community wanted, was for it to become an Events Centre.
Capable of seating over 1200 people, the Barony St John could hold live bands (let’s face it, we don’t always get the weather for seaside open-air performances), musicals, plays; even sporting events such as boxing matches, MMA, martial arts competitions; or how about art exhibitions, wedding fayres, conferences, community activities; or even weddings.
In fact, the building could host 101 events making it THE go-to venue in Ayrshire, attracting people .
During the Summer months, we could team up with local production companies like Capall Dorcha and Ardrossan Music Experience to put on a summer-time programme for children. This would encourage families to come to Ardrossan and when they can’t enjoy the beach (that pesky rain again) they can enjoy an indoor show.
But my idea wasn’t just to turn the Barony St John into an Events Centre which will bring visitors back to Ardrossan and provide much needed jobs and income to the area. Oh no – my idea was to also enclose the gravel area surrounding the front of the church and make this into a seafront café cum visitor centre with historical figure William Wallace as the focal point.
As many of you know, Wallace is connected with Ardrossan Castle as far back as 1296 and you all know how tourists love Sir William and anything connected with him. All we need is one percent of the one million tourists visiting Arran on the Ardrossan ferry each year to turn left at the lights and pop into the Visitor Centre – that’s 10,000 tourists.
Just think of the money they’ll spend in Ardrossan if they actually stopped, got a photo with the Wallace statue in the Barony St John Events and Visitor Centre and were then signposted around Ardrossan via Ardrossan Castle.
Think of how many jobs we would have to create to enable us to cater for 10,000 tourists PLUS thousands of visitors to Ardrossan. YOUR jobs.
The Barony St John Events and Visitor Centre would help develop the seafront area; provide activities and a social space for young people; provide employment opportunities; and will encourage more funding and investment into Ardrossan.
In short, this project will make a massive and lasting positive difference to YOUR neighbourhood.
To make this happen, we need the Council to back us – and not even financially – just back us in producing plans to take these ideas to The Big Lottery or Historic Environment Scotland or other funding bodies.
You see, if the Council aren’t interested in this project, neither will the funders – regardless of how many jobs this will provide or how much income it will generate in Ardrossan.
So, get a hold of your local Councillor and put our case forward. Write to the Council or better still, pop in and see them.
Have a chat with the new Ardrossan Community Development Trust and ask them to support the Barony St John Regeneration Project.
Let’s get this ball rolling.