The Building

The Building: The original church building which went up at the end of the 1920s was erected by Lochgilphead contractors called Carmichael. There were oil lamps in the church and a coal burner for the central heating. The boiler had to be built below the level of the building because there were no pumps in those pre-electric days.

It wasn't until 1936 that Lochgilphead was electrified. Peter was the first apprentice employed by the Campbeltown and Mid-Argyll Electricity Company and was there to help electrify St Margaret's. That electrification was paid for by the Greene family of Greene's Playhouse in Glasgow, who used to come to Lochgilphead on holiday.

A plaque which read "Pray for the Greene family" disappeared long ago. We could, of course, pray for our benefactors without the plaque!

The building in its early years was very basic. There were chairs rather than pews and the walls had a cement finish which wept in damp weather (and it is often damp in Argyll!).

When a company called Hall of Aberdeen came to the area to build houses for the Forestry Commission, the manager, Henry Moir, took a look at the cement rendering and came up with a solution - he strapped the walls, gyp rocked and plastered them. Peter says: "He wasn't a Catholic. He did that out of friendship."

Peter adds: "By this time the congregation was growing. In summer a lot of visitors came because Sydney was there but social attitudes were changing too."

The original plain glass windows in metal frames were eventually replaced by stained glass windows donated by local families. Other donors included Irish workers, the local nurse, Fr Sydney McEwan and two of the Argyll and the Isles bishops.

The windows at the altar were given by the Ciarella, Capocci and Casci families. They could only, of course, be installed because the altar was brought forward and the wall behind it was exposed - during Fr Sydney McEwan's time in pre Vatican II days there had been a red velvet curtain draping that wall.

A wooden floor had been laid straight onto the concrete floor and in time that warped. It was replaced with a terrazzo floor when the new altar was installed. The chairs were replaced by pews during Fr Sydney McEwan's days. Improvements were paid for by the then central diocesan fund, which presumably means St Margaret's as well as the cathedral benefited from Sydney's singing tours!