Welcome to Springburn Parish Church

Springburn Parish Church

                                                                                Springburnhill Church  

In August 1841 it is recorded that “William Collins Esq., Secretary of the Church Building Society, produced the Societies answers to the questions of the General Assemblies Church Extension Committee anent an application that had been made by the Society for pecuniary aid towards the erection of a new church at Springburn.” This was to be the last of twenty churches planned by the Church Building Society when it started seven years earlier.
In November 1841, a site was chosen “a lot or piece of ground, part of two parks of the lands of Cowlairs known under the name of Springvale”. By this time the architect must have been busy with plans that were soon to be put into execution. There is no record of his name, but in 1854, when the church was given full status, the building was carefully examined by Mr. Alexander Kirkland, architect in Glasgow who reported that “a substantial church had been built and erected on the site, of the value of £900 capable of containing seven hundred and fifty people and in good order and thorough repair.’ The parish was given as of from five to six thousand persons, comprising the village of Springburn, Springvale and Provan, with the buildings in Provan Mill Road, Duke Street.”  
On Sunday, 3rd July 1842, the church was opened and dedicated. In November 1842, 427 out of 465 Ministers who attended a convention held in Edinburgh bound themselves to secede from the Established Church should its wrongs not he righted and patronage abolished. This great secession took place the following year, and among those who went over to the newly formed Free Church were the founders and supporters of the Glasgow Church Building Society. The effect was serious, for the members of the Society were virtual patrons of Springburn Chapel (of Ease) and were responsible for providing it with an adequate ministry.   It is not known what happened, but it is obvious that things did not prosper, and in 1848 the Cathedral Kirk Session received an application from the inhabitants of Springburn “claiming liberal aid to a mission established in that place “ After careful consideration, the Session found that they could not consistently with their duty appropriate any part of the funds under their administration to the support of any mission within the hounds of the parish unless founded on the principal of the Established Church of Scotland, and in connection with the governing bodies of that Church.” There is a suggestion here that the Glasgow Church Building Society, which was not now regarded as an integral part of the Established Church, was still administering it. Was it that the Society were hoping to claim the building for the Free Church? The following year judgment was given in Court in favour of the Presbytery and against the Society, by which all such Chapels of Ease were brought under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery.  
On the 27th October 1850 the first Communion Service was held in the Church. On 4th December Sir James Campbell and others, as representatives of the Church Building Society appeared before the Presbytery and gave in a Minute of Election by the Society in favour of Mr. James Arthur. On Sunday 22nd December, Mr. Arthur preached before the congregation and again on the following day, and after more formalities was ordained on Thursday 23rd January 1851 at a stipend of £80.
On 14th June 1854, the Springburn Church was finally disjoined from its parent Churches and erected into a Church and Parish Quod Omnia. It was proposed that the Church at Springburn “be the Parish Church of the said Parish of Springburn...and. .the whole inhabitants of the said districts shall and may repair to the said Church at Springburn as their proper Parish Church for hearing the Word of God, receiving the Sacraments and partaking in all other public acts of divine worship, and shall and may subject themselves to the Minister of the said Church and Parish of Springburn as proper parishioners thereof in all time coming”.   There were with this congregation, as with all the other congregations, some very fine ministers. If the congregation grew under the ministry of the Rev. James Arthur (1851—1896) it seemed to have galloped under the ministry of the Rev. John Henry Dickie (1896 — 1907) for it was under his ministry that the building was extended, the foundation stone of the new halls being laid on 20th November 1897.
In 1898 there were 1203 communicants and by 1907 that had increased to 2020.   There were at this time a number of daughter churches. The first and oldest of these was Wellpark Church in the Drygate, built in 1839 by the Glasgow Church Building Society (and thus elder than Springburn). It had not reached full status by the time Springburn was allocated its Parish and in 1854 was transferred to the care of the Springburn Kirk Session.
Full status came in 1877 when it was disjoined from its adopted parent. Later still, when its usefulness in the centre of the city had passed, the Presbytery transferred the congregation to the Springburn area, the old name being retained in that of Colston Wellpark.   Two years before Wellpark Church was granted full status, another church had been built in Springburn Parish, this time at Hogganfield to the extreme east, and once again the Kirk Session undertook responsibility for its welfare. Through a later union with St. Enoch’s Church, the name was later changed to St. Enoch’s Hogganfield.  
In September 1884, Mr. Arthur intimated to the Kirk Session that at the corner of Keppochhill Road and Millarbank Street, a suitable site had been found for establishing a Mission Station. Negotiations were started for a feu, architects plans prepared and with the help of a grant from the Baird Trust and a bank overdraft the Gourlay Street Hall was built, eventually to become Cowlairs Parish.   About the year 1904 another church was started in Wellfield Street under the name of St. Serf’s with the Rev. Robert M. Rollo in charge. The congregation failed to flourish, largely perhaps because of its close proximity to the Mother Church and in 1911 it was finally closed.  
One interesting matter arises from the care of the poor. The Barony Kirk Session had reserved to itself the “existing management of the poor and poor funds within the whole area”, This necessitated joint consultation between the Barony minister and the ministers of the four daughter churches. Consequently the “Barony Parochial Board” was formed, comprising the ministers of the Barony, Shettleston, Springburn, Maryhill and Calton, which met periodically to deal with matters relevant to the poor. Barnhill Poorhouse (later Forresthall Home and Hospital, now demolished) was instituted to meet the needs of an area that extended from Shettleston to Maryhill, and from Calton to Springburn, and maintained by these churches. In 1830 there were in the Barony Parish 2237 paupers and the cost of maintaining them was £7485.4.4d.   It is interesting to note that in 1854, the stipend was fixed at ‘12½ chalders (half meal and half barley) and £10 for Communion Elements. In 1875 it was fixed at 23 chalders plus £20 for Communion Expenses. This was at the time when the stipend was linked to the price of grain, and could fluctuate. The stipend was later standardised in cash terms.
© Frank Myers 1997

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