The GRoW (Greyfriars Recycling of Wood) social enterprise that manufactures fine furniture from redundant church pews received a wonderful and exciting commission recently. They have been asked by the Assembly Arrangements Committee to make two new lecterns for use in the Assembly Hall and a new desk and lectern for the Moderator to be used during the sitting of the General Assembly.
The commission envisages using solid oak and work commenced on the project about 2 or 3 weeks ago. The oak the team have been using was from Woodside Church in Aberdeen (the first church that donated pews to me back in 1999). As work has gone on, the team started to panic that there might not be enough of this oak to complete the commission. We began to wonder how on earth we could get around this problem. Oak is one of the rarest woods used to make pews.
Early last week, Tommy Steel, the workshop manager, received a phone call from the Fabric Convener of Tranent Church outside Edinburgh. Initially, the Convener from Tranent suggested that the pews available were pine and Tommy all but said that if they were not of decent quality we would not take them as our storage space is now very limited because we have so much other wood of fine quality in stock. Tommy suggested that he email some photographs of the pews.
On Friday afternoon, the photographs arrived and revealed an entire church full of some of the most gorgeous, golden oak it is possible to imagine; all available right now to be picked up and ready to use. And so, we anticipate that before the end of the coming week, some of these discarded pews from Tranent will be finding a new life as a part of the lecterns and Moderator’s desk now taking shape at the GRoW workshop at Greyfriars Kirkhouse in Edinburgh ready for use in May.
As George Macleod famously put it. “If you think that is just coincidence, I hope you have a dull life”