Former church destroyed in devastating blaze

North-east firefighters tackled a blaze at the former West Church in Hatton on Wednesday, February 18.

Two appliances from Ellon were sent to the incident on Main Road in response to a call received at 7.30am.

The West Church in Hatton was destroyed by the blaze

The West Church in Hatton was destroyed by the blaze

A further two appliances were mobilised from Peterhead along with a height appliance and a support vehicle from Central Fire Station in Aberdeen.

No one was injured in the incident.

Local residents looked on in shock as flames ripped through the building and watched in disbelief as the roof crumbled down.

Station Manager Bruce Milne, the incident commander, said: “Our crews faced a well-developed fire and they worked extremely hard in difficult conditions to bring it under control.

The West Church in Hatton was destroyed by the blaze

The West Church in Hatton was destroyed by the blaze

“At the height of the incident we had five fire engines, including a height appliance, and support vehicles operating at the scene.

“Sadly the building has sustained significant damage.“

The fire was brought under control within a few hours and dampening down operations took place throughout the day.

Hatton’s Main Street was closed from Northfield Gardens to Hatton Farm Road for the next two weeks to allow officers from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland to conduct a joint investigation to establish the circumstances surrounding the fire.

The West Church in Hatton was destroyed by the blaze

The West Church in Hatton was destroyed by the blaze

The West Church was built in 1884 and the foundation stone of the building was laid by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s grandmother.

The church opened for worship in August 1885 and was in use until just a few years ago.

A spokesperson for The Church of Scotland said: “The former West Church has been closed for some years following a decision that it was surplus to the Cruden congregation’s requirements.

“It has been on the market since March 2013 but nonetheless, this is an unfortunate event and clearly will be distressing for members of the congregation.”

They added: “The stone built church and outbuildings come with planning permission for the demolition of the church and outhouses for the building of nine houses with parking.”

Commenting, Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith said: “Even though the church had been closed for several years, for all those in Hatton and further afield with a connection to the church this will have come as a shock and it will be a very sad time for them.

“I expect the village War Memorial, which is attached to the church building, will now need to be moved into safe-keeping pending a new location being found, and discussions around this are ongoing.”