1738 – The Laigh Kirk (Paisley Burgh Church) opens on New Street, Paisley as Paisley’s first new church since the reformation in 1560.
1781 – The West Relief Church open on Main Road, Castlehead and the Paisley Middle Church opened on Church Hill.
1820 – The Laigh Kirk moves to a new building on George Street as its original building on New Street was too small. The 4th Secession Church moves into the old building.
1834 – The Laigh Kirk plants the South Church on Neilston Road.
1843 – The South Church secedes during the Disruption. The congregation continue to worship at Neilston Road until 1850.
1850 – A new building is completed for the South Free Church on Causeyside Street opens.
1900 – The union of the United Presbyterian and Free churches creates Canal Street UF (United Free) Church.
1929 – An Act of Union between the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church creates the congregations of St Georges Low (formerly Laigh Kirk), Canal Street Church (formerly Canal Street UF) and St Andrews (Formerly the Free South Church).
1975 – Canal Street Church unites with Paisley Middle Church and becomes known as Castlehead Church.
1985 – A union between St George’s Low and St Andrews creates the new Laigh Kirk using the St Andrews buildings on Causeyside Street.
2011 – Castlehead Church and the Laigh Kirk unite at the Causeyside Street premises to form Stow Brae Kirk.
15th April 2021 – Stow Brae Kirk joins in Union with Glenburn Parish Church forming Paisley: St George’s retaining buildings in Causeyside & Nethercriags Drive.
1799 4th Session Congregation breaks away from Abbey Close Burgher Church
1894 Nethercriags Mission established by Paisley Abbey
1822 4th Session Church building on George Street under construction (opens 1823)
1955 Glenburn Parish Church opens with the tansported congregation of George St Church and the Abbey Mission
The Parish Church of Paisley: Glenburn was established beside the slopes of the Gleniffer Braes, by the transportation of the congregation of Paisley: George Street and the closure of the Abbey Mission Church which had been established in Glenburn in 1894 by Paisley Abbey. The transportation was necessary due to the re-development of the George Street and Canal Street area of Paisley. The transportation occurred in 1955 to the newly established housing scheme of Glenburn. The present congregation of Glenburn, being the direct descendant of the George Street congregation can today lay claim to a long period of history of over 200 years.
Paisley Abbey Nethercraigs Mission in the Nethercraigs School.
The Nethercraigs Mission Church led by Paisley Abbey was established in 1894 to hold services for Abbey Parishioners living in the Glenburn area. In 1953 this ministry was transferred to the wooden hall/ hut on Nethercraigs Drive. The Hut Church was established to better serve the needs of the newly formed community of Glenburn with the support of the Church extension Committee under the leadership of the Rev. D. F. MacDonald, vice-convenor of the Presbytery Church Extension Committee. Paisley Abbey Assistants including Ronald Spiers and Donald MacLeod played a large part in the developing the Mission Church, along with Miss Granger, Deaconess. The original hut was still used as a hall until relatively recently, when it was destroyed by fire.
George Street Origins
The foundations of the congregation of George Street were laid by a group of 31 members including one elder, who seceding from the Burgher Congregation of Paisley: Abbey Close following a period of instability in that congregation.
They seceded in 1799 and on the second Sunday in January 1800 that their first continuous supply of sermons from the Original Burgher Presbytery. Over subsequent years the congregation occupied several meeting places (mostly member’s houses and ‘The Garnel’ a granary store-house in the town’s New Sneddon Street). The congregation became known as the 5th Secession Church, Paisley. In 1818 however luck was on their side – the congregation of the Laigh Kirk moved to a new building, St. George’s, in George Street, which left the Laigh Kirk available for use. The early pioneers of George St. Church moved in and remained there for the next five years. The congregation must have been full of vigour and enthusiasm as in 1822 they began the construction of a new building to sit 1058 at a cost of £700 – most of which was borrowed money. The new church in George Street was completed in 1823 and was opened for worship on the 30th of March. The Old Laigh Kirk became the seeding place for several of the dissenting congregations inn Paisley.
The First Minister
Several months after the opening of the church a petition was made to the Presbytery to moderate in the call of a minister to the charge. This petition was granted and in November 1823, The Rev. Andrew Thomson was Ordained and Inducted. Andrew Thomson remained at the church for 10 years leaving in June 1834, the year in which the Original Burgher Church began negotiations for a Union with the Church of Scotland.
1834 however saw much disagreement. The congregation did not favour the Union with the Church of Scotland and May 1835 resolved by a three-forths majority to seek join with the United Secession Church. The three-fourths majority retained the church building while the remaining fourth left the church and joined the Union with the Established Church, worshipping in Martyrs’ Church.
A New Beggining
The congregation petitioned the United Secession Presbytery of Glasgow to be recognised as a congregation ‘‘under its inspection’’. The petition succeeded and the Rev. John Boyd of Hexham was called to the charge. Mr. Boyd was Inducted on the 19th November 1835 and remained there for 4 years. During his term as minister the congregations size grew form 99 to 180. Mr Boyd was had been ordained in Hexham on the 23rd October 1833 and was the current minister at the Melville Street Glasgow congregation, before coming to Paisley. The call to Mr Boyd was signed by 80 members and 19 adherents. His stipend was to be £110, and 3 years later he reported a membership of 180. On the 14th May 1839 he received a call to his original congregation in Hexham and accepted it.
A Union and a new name
With the departure of Mr. Boyd in 1839 the question of a union with New Street 4th Secession Church arose. The New Street congregation were using the Old Laigh Kirk and attempting to build a new building, while George Street was looking for a new minister. The advantage of a union was seen by both congregations and the Presbytery agreed. The 5th Secession Church (George St), Paisley, and the 4th Secession Church congregation of New Street (old Laigh Kirk) joined together under the name George Street Church, with the Rev. Cairns of the former New Street Church as minister on the 12th of November 1839.
Mr. Cairns was greatly respected in both the church and neighbourhood. During his 18 years at the church he reduced the size of the debt and through his work in the church brought a growth in the size of the congregation. At his death in 1857 the congregation amounted to 242 members and 84 adherents. Mr Cairns was buried in his family plot in Woodside Cemetery, Paisley, just behind Martyr’s Parish Church.
In February 1858 the Rev. John Wilson of Kilbarchan was Ordained. The call was signed by 242 members and 84 adherents, and his stipend was to be £175. In 1843 the Presbytery of Paisley & Greenock was formed, hence the George Street congregation moved from the Presbytery of Glasgow to the new Presbytery. Under Mr. Wilson £800 of debts was cleared; he was a very gifted preacher but after a time issues came to light and the congregation deposed him on the 17th October 1865. He absconded in circumstances involving bigamy, as he had kept an earlier marriage a secret. It also emerged that he had been taking money from the congregation as well. It transpired that he fled to America and found employment in the newspaper industry of New York.
The Rev. Andrew Elder, was ordained into George St United Presbyterian Church on the 5th February 1867. He was born in Eaglesham in 1831 to James & Mary Elder, Cotton Spinners. In 1841 he is recorded as being a factory worker at the age of 10. By 1851 his occupation in the census has become shopman, and in 1861, Preacher in the UP Church, resident in Calton, Glasgow.
He was ordained in to Kinkell Church, Perthshire on the 1st July 1863, and left for George Street Church on the 15th January 1867. He was ordained at George Street in February 1867, inheriting inherited a congregation of 257 members and a stipend of £150. Under Rev Elders ministry the remaining debt was cleared, to such an extent that there was a small credit balance, which resulted in the building of a manse – TheGrange, Meikleriggs – in 1871. In 1873 he received a call to the Extension church in Parkhead, Glasgow, but he decided to remain in Paisley. In 1879 the congregation was over 350 and a stipend of £230 was paid. In 1888 a bazaar brought in £870, a large amount at the time. In the same year at Mr. Elders’ semi-jubilee the church was renovated.
In 1894 the Presbytery learned that the tide was going back and that debt was again accumulating. For some reason the ‘better placed families were leaving the church’ : wrote one of the office bearers – ‘the annual income fell by fifty percent…. the machinery had somehow got out of order, many elders had resigned, and the managers contemplated similar action.’ Differences had arisen over the election of a church officer, and on one occasion, at a joint-meeting of elders and managers, held to consult about the reducing of the debt, the time was consumed in battling over the question whether the preses of the congregation or the minister was entitled to take the chair.
The whole case was referred to the Synod in 1896, and they appointed assessors to act along with the Presbytery in bringing it to an issue. Mr Elder, who was acknowledged to be much respected for his moral and Christian character, had intimated months before that he would remain at his post, and accept whatever the people could give him. In 1900 the congregational roll was 280, and Rev elders stipend was £120.
In 1900 the United Presbyterian Church joined with a break away from the Free Church of Scotland that had been established in 1843 at the disruption. the combination created the United Free Church of Scotland which meant that the congregation was once again to change its name, this time to George Street United Free Church,
In 1902 a proposal by the Presbytery that a colleague be appointed was submitted to the congregation and accordingly accepted. In May 1903 the Rev. James F. Padkin of Greenlaw, Berwickshire was Ordained. The two ministers got on well together, and continued to be so until the death of Mr. Elder in 1906. Mr. Padkins’ ministry continued to grow, in 1906 there were 200 members – by 1911 the communion roll had risen to 650.
During Mr. Padkin’s seven and a half years in Paisley he repeatedly declined calls from other churches, devoting himself to the work of George Street. While Mr. Padkin was at George Street a debt of £500 was cleared and the church was renovated at a cost of £250.
With Mr. Padkins departure in 1911, the Rev. W.Campbell Smith, M.A. from Denny was called to the church, and was Inducted in July of that year. He immediately set out to consolidate the congregation which Mr. Padkin had built up. But disagreement arose when a meeting was called to consider the possibility of procuring funds for a hall to look after the needs of the youth of the church. With the onset of the First World War in 1914 the plans were abandoned. Mr. Smith was called to a new charge in 1915, leaving a congregation of 713.
In April 1916 the Rev. Graham Park, M.A. of Loudon, Ayrshire was Inducted. Educated at the University of Glasgow and New College, Edinburgh Mr. Park brought a great wealth of knowledge to the church. He was an earnest preacher, notable for his pastoral activities in the Parish. It was mostly due to his influence and enthusiasm that the church became the owner of a new manse (53 Craw Rd. Paisley), electrical lighting and war memorials. During his five years of ministry over £1000 was raised for these purposes. In 1921 Mr. Park was called to Viewforth Church, Edinburgh and accepted.
Mr. Park was succeeded by the Rev. Hugh Davidson, M.A. who was inducted in September 1921. He possessed exceptional pulpit gifts and notably worked in the renewed endeavour to provide suitable accommodation for the development of the youth agencies of the church. During his period of office the centenary of the church was celebrated in November 1922. To celebrate the occasion a meeting was held at Paisley Town Hall, where Mr. Davidson was supported by his three immediate predecessors. At the time three centenary stained-glass windows were installed at the church. (These windows can now be seen in the Hall of Fellowship of the Present Glenburn Parish.) Mr. Davidsons’ association with George Street ended in 1925 when he was called to Rothesay.
Early in 1926 the Rev. Arthur S. Hutchison BD was inducted. Shortly afterwards a new vestry, session house and class-room were opened. In 1929 the congregation joined with the rest of the United Free Church of Scotland joined in Union with the Established Church of Scotland, becoming purely George Street Church. In November 1932 a new church hall was opened and dedicated by the Rev. Dr. Hugh Mackintosh, Moderator of the General Assembly and other representatives of the Presbytery and former ministers of the church. With much regret Mr. Hutchison left the church in 1934.
Latter Days of George Street
Mr. Hutchisons’ successor was the Rev. J. Birni Allan M.A. who was inducted in May 1935, but remained for only three and a half years. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Scott MA. During World War II, Mr. Scott served for two years as a Navel Chaplain, and in April 1949, he dedicated the War Memorial Organ in memory of those who lost their lives. It is largely due to Mr. Scotts’ forethought and the earnest desire of him for the continuation of the congregation of George Street that we are now worshipping at Glenburn.
July 1950 saw the induction of the Rev. George K. Wood. A graduate of the University of Glasgow in 1921, he completed his theological studies at Trinity College in 1924. He was the Biggart Memorial Bursar prizeman in moral philosophy and gained distinction in English and gained a first-class certificate in Greek at university, and at Trinity College achieved distinction in church history.
Mr. Wood believed in a traditional type of Scottish ministry, putting an emphasis on pastoral visitation and seeking to maintain the high standard of preaching related to the times, and it was along these lines that he carried on the high traditions of George Street Church in the new environment of Glenburn. At the closing service of George Street on Sunday 20th February 1955 Mr. Wood commented:
‘I hope all of us, whether we go to Glenburn or to other churches in the town, will carry on with what has been good in our church life here and become active members.’
The Kirk of Glenburn
The transportation of the congregation of George Street to Glenburn had been preceded by the establishment of a new hut church (in 1953), part of a mission from Paisley Abbey, the congregation of which had previously used the former Nethercraigs School (now demolished). Early in 1955 the Presbytery of Paisley dedicated a new Hall Church for the congregation of the Abbey Mission and the transported congregation of George Street.
The first minister of the newly created charge was the Rev. George K. Wood, the former minister of George Street. Mr. Wood, after sowing the seeds of the new congregation, left to take up another charge. In May 1958, after a short vacancy the Rev. Dr. George G Cameron M.A., S.T.M. was inducted to the charge. Under Dr. Cameron’s ministry the membership of the church rose from 410 to 1,031. The growth of the congregation was such that the existing Hall Church was far too small.
In September 1961, therefore, the foundation stone of the current church building was laid by the late Mr. Thomas Jackson M.A., M.B.E the last headmaster of Nethercraigs School and the first of Langcraigs School. The foundation stone came by permission, from the Education committee, from Nethercraigs School and represents the traditional Scottish link between Church and School, as well as the Abbey’s ministry in the area for over sixty years. On Wednesday 5th September 1962 the new church was Dedicated and consecrated by the Rev. R. L. Sim M.A., BD moderator of the Presbytery of Paisley., the first sermon being preached by the Rev. Andrew Herron, LL.B, Clerk to the Presbytery of Glasgow.
During Dr Cameron’s time at Glenburn, the church underwent many changes, both in worship and in property as already mentioned. Dr Cameron was a member of the committee responsible for producing the 3rd edition of the Church Hymnary. Due to this many of the new Hymns suggested for the 3rd edition were tried out on the Congregation, with great success. In connection with worship, Dr Cameron’s friendship with song writer Sidney Carter, led to the first public performance of ‘‘LORD OF THE DANCE’’ at an evening service in the Church. At the time the last verse of the song was not even written.
One major achievement of Dr. Cameron’s ministry in his early days was the first edition of the Parish Quarterly Magazine, which after six editions eventually became known as the ‘‘SALTIRE’’ In the first edition Dr. Cameron remarks:
“My first word in print must be to repeat what has already been spoken on your behalf – the word of our welcome to our new fellow members. to those who have come from other congregations or other branches of the Church we offer our kindest assurances of friendship. And I think we can believe that already feel so much at home in Glenburn Church that they include themselves in the ‘we’ who rejoice also to welcome those who have come forward as First Communicants and who join us now in full membership of the Church. All of us together are pledged to Him, and in the fellowship of His word and service our unity will be forged and shaped into an instrument, He can use for great things.’’
A message still relevant today, as we hear many people commenting on our warm welcome.
Dr Cameron left Glenburn at Christmas 1969 to take up a new post in London as Associate Minister of St. Columba: Pont Street. His successor Rev. Malcolm Wright L.Th was Ordained and Inducted in June 1970. Mr. Wright spent 14 fruitful years at Glenburn before taking his leave in 1984. During Mr. Wright’s time, Glenburn celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the modern sanctuary with a service led by the Kirk Session.
Mr. Wright’s successor, the Rev. Francis Dixon was Ordained and Inducted in May 1985 and was with the church until he demitted his charge in 1993.
On the 23rd of March 1994, the Rev. George C. Mackay B.D; Cert. Min., was Ordained and Inducted to the charge of Paisley: Glenburn. George remained with the congregation until 2003, when he left to join Stamperland Church, Glasgow. During George’s ministry the main change to the fabric of the church was the creation of the Side Sanctuary, which returned the communion table, chairs and font from George Street Church to regular use. The War Memorial on the George Street communion table which used to face the congregation, has now been reversed and now lies hidden from view, but protected from daylight.
After a vacancy of almost two and a half years we welcomed the Ordination and Induction of Rev. Graham Nash MA BD to the Congregation on the 16th of November 2006. During his ministry Graham sought to build on the traditions of the Church in Glenburn while working with the Kirk Session to develop the worship, fellowship and prayer life of the congregation. Closer links also developed with our neighbouring parishes, Lylesland Parish Church and St Columba Foxbar with joint evening services being held monthly.
In 2010, the Congregational Board began a programme of refurbishing our Halls. The toilets were significantly modernised and a new accessible toilet was created. A fire alarm was also installed. Alterations were also made to the entrance of the Halls, and walkway to the church doors to allow level access for wheel-chairs and buggies and for the modernisation of the kitchen.
From September 2011 to September 2012 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our present sanctuary. During this year, a series of events were held to remember the history of our Church ..
Graham departed Glenburn on the 2nd December 2012 after a ministry of 6 years, moving to The Bruce Memorial Church in Cambusbarron, Stirlingshire.
Early in 2014, we welcomed the Rev. Iain M. Reid and his wife Trish to Glenburn. During 2015 the congregation remembered the Transportation of the George Street Congregation to Glenburn and the joining with the Nethercraigs Mission with several events including an exhibition of Wedding Dresses worn by members of the congregation & Christening Gowns from 1955 to 2015 and special services. In April 2017, the Rev Reid left the congregation, leading to a vacancy lasting until April 2021 when the congregation joined in Union with Stow Brae Kirk.
This history of the congregation is based on a history written for a Paisley newspaper in the mid 1950’s, later revised by Bill Henderson, former Session Clerk & updated and revised by Stephen J Clancy in 1999, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2021.
Ministers of George Street Church / Glenburn Parish Church 1823 to 2021
|James F Padkin||1903||1911|
|W Campbell Smith||1911||1915|
|Arthur S Hutchinson||1926||1934|
|J Birni Allan||1935||1939|
|George K Wood||1950||1958|
|Dr George G Cameron||1958||1969|
|George G Mckay||1994||2003|
Recently digitised material from the former churches which united to form Stow Brae Kirk and its predecessor churches (Laigh Kirk, St George’s (Low) Parish and Castlehead (Canal St UF Church) are shown below. The originals are now held in Paisley Museum
Mr Neil Buchanan of Canal Street United Free Church. He was member for 30 years and Elder for 17 years . He donated considerable sums of money to refurbish the Church Hall.
Rev H M Dunlop and Kirk Session members of Canal Street United Free Church circa 1913
Various ministers between 1811 and 1879 of St Georges (Low) Church
Brass plaque detailing bequests and gifts to St Georges (Low Parish) Church and its predecessors.
Brass plaque detailing bequests and gifts to St Georges (Low Parish) Church and its predecessors.
From the congregational minutes:
George Street Church Memorial Committee
20-6-1919 It was reported that the treasurer had £122 1/- in hand and expected to have about £237 17 6 available in the end, as elders had visited their districts. Mr James Duncan had donated £100 himself.
5-12-1920 The Memorial Service
The Kirk session met within this church on the morning of Sunday 5th December with the managers and ex-servicemen for the purpose of joining with the congregation in a special service arranged for the dedication of the war memorials.
The memorials consist of a Communion Table bearing the names of those 35 from our congregation who had given their lives in the Great War, an arm chair gifted by an elder, Mr John McCulloch, in memory of his son who died as a result of wounds in France and two communion chairs, a foot stool gifted by Mr Robert Jeffrey and a tablet bearing in addition to the names of the fallen, a roll of those who had served, constituting a full Roll of Honour.
There was a very large congregation. After sermon and praise the congregation rose to their feet while the moderator read over the list of the fallen.
They then proceeded to unveil the table, after which Messers, McCulloch & Pollock, the senior elders of the church unveiled the chairs and foot stool.
Miss M Cochrane then placed a crystal vase and flowers on the table, gifted my members of the choir in memory of a respected member who had fallen, Mr Mathew Holms. Then the Moderator solemnly dedicated all to the glory of god and to the memory of all who had made the great sacrifice. While the congregation remained standing he proceeded to the vestibule of the church, followed by office bearers and ex-service men, where the Session Clerk unveiled the Roll of Honour, which was also solemnly dedicated to the glory of god and to the memory of all these names it bears.
After prayer, Praise and Benediction, the last post was sounded by buglers of the 4th Paisley Company of the Boys Brigade. The Lament was played on the organ. The buglers sounded reveille and the singing of the nation anthem closed a solemn and impressive service.
Signed Graham Park, Moderator (Minister) and Earnest Thompson, Clerk,
From the Session minutes, George St, Church National Records of Scotland Reference CH3/ 654/10
The Glenbun Heritage Group is a joint project between Paisley: St George’s and The Urban Historian to gather the social history of the estate, along with the history of the lands, industry, schools and people lived in the area prior to development.
Initial activity is based on the estabishment of a Facebook Group to the community of Glenburn to share their stories about life in the scheme since 1947 when it was established. A website has also been set up where stories and images can also be submitted to the project. When allowed, drop-in sessions will be held in the St George’s Outreach Centre.
|Visit the Facebook page|
|The Facebook Group|
OUR HERITAGE BUILDINGS