Will’s history-making window of opportunity

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Taynuilt joiner Will MacKenzie is making history.

Will is one of the latest craftsmen to be commissioned as part of a huge restoration project at St Conan’s Kirk, Lochawe.

With help from his wife and co-worker Taeko, he has been tasked with making a new frame for the historic church’s south-west facing rose window.

Last summer it took three craftsmen two days to carefully take out the impressive window, made up of 60 pieces of glass with 27 of them depicting cherubs.

Damp had been seeping in and the frame holding it had become insecure.

Every millimetre counts in a job like this, says Will who is working from a full-size template drawn on plywood to guide him through the job.

‘This is a first for me. When I went to look at the job my first impression was ‘it’s quite big’ and ‘this’ll take some time!’

‘Usually I’m making doors, bespoke kitchens and windows, quite a lot of sash windows for older houses. Never a rose window on this scale.

‘It’s like a big wheel with spokes coming out of it. Everything has to work from the centre. It has 12 segments. Getting every bit right is crucial, down to the millimetre,’ said Will.

And he added: ‘It’s certainly a challenge but that’s what makes it even more interesting.’

A native of Taynuilt, Will spent a few years working away on boats and making kitchens in Sydney before eventually returning home to set up his joinery business called Morikenzie.

The rose window frame is almost half-way there and is being made out of European Oak.

With a diameter of eight foot, getting the job done in Will’s workshop makes it a snug fit.

It was planned to install the window this month but that has been postponed because of coronavirus shutting St Conan’s to the public.

When the time is right, Will and Taeko will have to climb up scaffolding carrying each of the segments to piece it together ready for the stained glass.

The pieces of glass have now returned to St Conan’s after a makeover to brighten up the cherubs, clean the glass and make any necessary repairs.

Fundraising is ongoing to help pay for the work, part of a big programme of work at the church.

The window’s glass was all hand-painted in the Victorian style by Helen Campbell, sister of the kirk’s architect and founder Walter Douglas-Campbell.

‘It’s a fantastic looking building and it’s nice to have been asked to have an input in making sure it stays that way for long time to come,’ said Will.

Anyone wanting to make a donation to the project can go to stconanskirk.org.uk or send a cheque payable to Friends of St Conan’s to The Secretary, Beechwood, Lochaber, Argyll, PA33 1AH.