Cash-strapped church officials are seeking financial support to save St John’s Kirk spire from further decay.
There are now growing concerns for the 155ft high steeple, which dates back to the early 1500s, as it is under threat from the elements.
And now, church officials fear the cost to repair it could exceed their original £650,000 estimate.
Surveys carried out in 2019 found water entering through failing lead-work, causing damage to ancient timbers supporting the spire.
And in February 2020, the town centre kirk’s ancient weathercock was removed in anticipation of repair work.
St John’s Kirk repairs could ‘mushroom’
The church, in St John’s Place, says doing nothing is no longer an option if the kirk’s spire is to be saved.
Property convener John Kinloch said: “Water continues to find its way into the spire and the full extent of the problem won’t be known until specialist investigators can safely access the area.
“Provision of a safe access at height is a costly proposition and the estimated cost of repairs could mushroom beyond the original estimate of up to £650,000 once we determine the full extent of what we’re dealing with.
“It seems certain that St John’s Kirk faces a huge financial pressure to safeguard the future of this city landmark.”
How will the costs be covered?
Specialist advice has been commissioned and the Kirk Session has committed up to £200,000 of repair works.
And the Friends of St John’s Kirk has also pledged support. It will take on the cost of regilding the spire’s golden weathervane.
John added: “The Kirk Session has informed Presbytery, the General Trustees, Historic and Environment Scotland and Perth and Kinross Council in the hope that a solution can be found – and quickly.
“The most important thing is to keep the structure safe and that is why the cockerel finial was removed and part of the lead cladding.
“Action – both short and long-term – is vital so the Kirk Session is investing most of its available funds in a bid to combat decay of the spire.
“The congregation simply can’t bear increasing costs of this magnitude alone, however.
“And we need help to prevent the further deterioration and unthinkable loss of Perth’s prime landmark.”
At risk Kirk buildings
However, while St John’s Kirk Trust hopes to support the costs, it is unable to secure external funding while the future of St John’s remains undecided.
It is one of the churches whose future is being considered by the Presbytery of Perth.
It plans to reduce the number of churches in the city and look at guardianship options for others.
Meanwhile, minister numbers will also dramatically reduce in a move to cut staffing by almost 40%.
It comes in the face of dwindling income and falling congregations.
Presbytery members across Perth and Kinross are now being asked for their views on the “work in progress”.
The eight-week consultation is ongoing.