History of The Building We Worship In
Our building was designed by one of Glasgow’s most famous architects, Alexander Thomson (1817-1875) and was opened as a United Presbyterian Church in 1859. Thomson largely rejected the popular Gothic revival which characterised so much Victorian architecture, gaining much of his inspiration instead from the classical architecture of Ancient Greece, which he applied with his own genius to the 19th century. The result has given Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s buildings an individuality and uniqueness not found among his contemporaries.
Raised on a high, solid podium, the end elevations of the building have an obvious Greek emphasis; the pilastrade clerestory is distinctly original; while the unorthodox yet impressive tower is reminiscent of Indian design. The building is probably viewed to best advantage from the south.
Internally, Thomson’s use of space and light is most impressive. As one enters the building through the narrow entrance passages into the broader vestibule and hence into the main auditorium, “space seems to soar from under the gallery and upwards in a blaze of light over the pulpit” (R. McFadzean). Thomson’s daring use of slender cast iron columns, which emerge from the hall below the church, support the gallery and massive stone clerestory and high timber roof. In the internal decoration, one can detect classical Greek, Assyrian and Indian influences. The decorative plant and shellfish motifs are peculiarly Thomsonian, though surprisingly flamboyant for a Presbyterian place of worship. In keeping with the Presbyterian tradition, the pulpit is centrally placed in front of the congregation, reflecting the importance of the Bible and preaching.
Built for a United Presbyterian congregation, the church passed into the hands of the United Free Church of Scotland as a result of the union of the United Presbyterian Church and Free Church of Scotland in 1900. It became a Church of Scotland congregation with the union of the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland in 1929.
In the 1960s the building was purchased by Glasgow Corporation and is now owned by Glasgow City Council and preserved as an “A” listed property and rented by our congregation since 1971.