A HISTORIC statue that stood on a former chapel has been saved by the new site owners — Greenock businessmen Sandy and James Easdale — and reunited with sisters at a neighbouring monastery.
The statue depicts St Joseph cradling the baby Jesus and stood on the south wall of the former Chapel of the Convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame on Cardross Road, Dumbarton for almost a century
The chapel fell out of use in the early 1990s and the church applied for permission in 1996 for its demolition. In 1998, the chapel was badly damaged by fire in a deliberate attack and it was subsequently repeatedly targeted by vandals.
In 2016 the building was de-listed and permission was finally granted to the new owners to disassemble the building in 2021.
The wider site formerly hosted St Michael’s Primary School and is now subject to a planning application for 85 homes as part of a £30 million rejuvenation of the site.
The site in its entirety has been allocated in West Dunbartonshire’s local development plan for residential housing for some time.
Sandy Easdale said he delighted to return the statue to the sisters at the Carmelite Monastery at Craigend House, as had been promised at an early stage in the process.
Mr Easdale said: “Reuniting the statue with the sisters at the Carmelite Monastery is a nice moment for everyone involved in the development project.
“The monastery sits immediately adjacent to the site and it is important for us that the sisters are supportive of what we want to achieve.
“We’ve been in close contact with the monastery as things have moved forward and we were delighted to be able to carefully take St Joseph from the former chapel building and present the statue to the sisters at Craigend House.
“The site has been in need of redevelopment since St Michael’s Primary was closed in 1998. It has been plagued by vandalism, regular fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour over that period which has distressed the sisters on several occasions, particularly late at night.
“If planning permission is granted, the site will have a bright future with modern homes perfect for individuals, couples and families. There have been some inaccurate claims about our plans from a few local people but the church and the sisters are very supportive of the development and believe it will be a real positive for the area and are looking forward to having neighbours close to the monastery.”
Sister Theresa of the Carmelite Monastery said: “We are thrilled with the safe return of the St Joseph to the monastery. It was a well-known feature of the former chapel building and meant a lot to those who worshipped there.
“We’re very grateful to Sandy and the project team for bringing it back to us and we’ll now place it somewhere special at the monastery.
“It was wonderful to speak to Sandy this afternoon and hear the latest news about the site. Our monastery sits as the closest neighbours to the site and we all hope to see permission granted.
“Achieving a new future for the former primary and chapel grounds as a place for families to live would be lovely. It is heartening to hear that the Havoc Cave and meadows remain untouched and that the development will offer an opportunity to link the wider community.”