Cara and Milan hope to create a 21st century wedding venue at old Craigrownie Church Hall.

By Lucy Ashton

AN historic church that has lain empty for over a decade is to get a new lease of life.

Helensburgh restaurateurs Cara and Milan Nikolic revealed they had bought Craigrownie Church Hall in Cove on the Rosneath Peninsula  on Friday.

Now they have revealed they plan to turn it into a wedding venue with luxury pods for guests.

Cara said: ”We’d like to turn it into a fabulous new wedding venue. It was originally a church before it became the church hall and has some incredible features not least the amazing stained glass windows.

“There is also a beautiful pitched pine ceiling that was previously tiled over and intricate wooden features throughout.

“The views are also stunning across to the Isle of Arran and the Cowal Penisnula. It may also be possible to build pods with hot tubs at the back for wedding guests.

“We had thought about housing as it has previously had permission for flats inside and and houses behind.

“But hospitality and great food and drink is what we know best. We could even hold conferences and other celebrations – we are really excited about all the possibilities it holds.”

The multi award-winning La Barca Tapas Bar on West Clyde Street, Helensburgh.

The couple opened their first licensed premises in Helensburgh in 2010 and have gone onto open multi award-winning La Barca Tapas Bar, Cattle & Creel Seafood & Steakhouse and Padrone Pizzeria. All the premises, on West Clyde Street, underwent six figure sum refurbishments.

Cara added:”We’ve learnt a lot along the way so are not phased by this project. However we won’t be rushing into it too quickly. We’re concentrating on getting our restaurants back up after four months of lockdown and hoping for a busy summer.

“In the meantime we’ll tidy up the church inside as it’s been quite badly vandalised over the 11 years it has lain empty.

“I’m sure when it was the church it saw many weddings. It will be great to bring it back to a similar use but in a modern way.”

The couple said there was a lot of interested in the property which was owned by an Aberdeen-based housing developer when it went on the market in March.

Built as a United Presbyterian Church in 1869 by architect Hugh Barclay, the B-listed building went onto be known as Craigrownie Church Hall.

Cara, who grew up in Kilcreggan and returned 13 years ago with her young family, added: “I remember going to many a church jumble sale there and have lovely memories of cream teas afterwards with my Mum Aileen and Auntie Linden.

“We’ve had amazing good wishes of support from people who are happy to see it back in local ownership. I’d like to think the building is back in safe hands.”

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