At that time there were over 300 people living on Papa Stour.
The Church of Scotland administered the kirk and a permanent minister resided in Papa Stour for many years. However, in July 2015 the Church of Scotland no longer had any members on Papa Stour and a decision was taken by The Church of Scotland to deconsecrate the kirk. The kirk was and remains in poor condition requiring extensive maintenance and upgrading.
The Papa Stour History and Community Group (PSHCG) decided to try to purchase the kirk building before it was put up for sale by the Church of Scotland (COS). Negotiations between the PSHCG and the COS took place over a period of 4 years and eventually in January 2016 the PSHCG became owners of the Papa Stour kirk.
We are designing a series of island renewal initiatives using the Kirk building, (which is the only available community owned building on the isle) as a focus for not only preventing the loss of, but developing and promoting all of Papa Stour’s rich and varied heritage.
Some visitors come to Papa, walk on the isle, are captivated by its beauty and heritage, and then go, without there being any interaction with, or benefit to, islanders. There is no opportunity for them to learn more about, or contribute to, the isle’s heritage, and yet the potential for this to happen is all there. The heritage that we wish to save and make more widely available is that of every aspect of the beautiful amazing island of Papa Stour, and the Kirk Development Project will give us a base from which so much can happen.
If you feel inspired in any way to help us, if you have connections to Papa, if you have skills you can share with us, or cash to spare, do get in touch!
Successful grant applications were made to LEADER finding and the Architectural Heritage Fund and Sandness and Walls Community Council. Competitive tenders were sought from three firms of Conservation Architects and in May 2019 the practice of James F Stephen Architects from Glamis were appointed .
Doug Reid, an experienced Conservation Architect has led the design team. Doug has visited Papa Stour on several occasions and prepared design proposals which were made available for public consultation in both Lerwick and Papa Stour.
The kirk is visited often by people tracing their family ancestry, and it is hoped to store genealogical information when the kirk is made weatherproof.
Planning consent and a building warrant were obtained in 2019 for the works to the kirk and a cost estimate and report for the proposed works was prepared. During 2019 applications were started to funding bodies for the capital costs of the proposed refurbishment and repurposing.