ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT

A CENTENARY BOOKLET might be expected to begin with the year 1866, but it will help us to realise our great tradition if we sketch briefly the earlier history of the church.
It began in 1737. At that time there was great animosity between the government and the people. That arose from the fact that a certain captain of the Edinburgh city guard-called Porteous-had been reprieved by the Government, in spite of having killed several people. The citizens were determined to have justice done, and one night they dragged Porteous from his cell and hanged him. That so incensed the Government that they passed an Act threatening death to anyone who should shelter the guilty parties, and offering a handsome reward to anyone giving details as to their whereabouts. That Act had to be read from every pulpit on the first Sunday of each month for a year. Naturally this roused the indignation of many ministers and members of the church. In Port Glasgow the minister of the Parish Church continued to carry out the instructions of the Government.

SECESSION TO ASSOCIATE PRESBYTERY

MANY Of the congregation were so enraged that they seceded to the Associate Presbytery. Together with the Seceders of Paisley, Lochwinnoch, Kilbarchan, Largs, Inverkip and Greenock, the Seceders froin Port Glasgow were formed into the Correspondence of Kilmacolm. The meeting place was in the open air on the farm of Killochries-two miles south of Kilmacolm. After six years of meeting in fields, the Correspondence of Kilmacolm was felt to be too large. It was arranged that while remaining under the care of one Session, it should be divided into two sections. The members from Greenock and Port Glasgow formed one section with a meeting-place at Crawford's Dyke (the present Cartsdyke) while the other moved to Bianchell in the parish of Kilbarchan. A service was conducted at the two places on alternate Sundays. This arrangement continued until 1752, when the Correspondence was divided into two distinct congregations each with its own minister.
In the course of time the meeting-place at Cartsdyke proved too small to accommodate the people desirous of attending, and the Port Glasgow people petitioned the Synod, who in 1790 decided that they should receive a disjunction from Cartsdyke if it be found practicable to erect a congregation in the town of Port Glasgow.

Princes Street Church

ON 13th June, 1865 Mr. Lauder laid the foundation stone of the present church, and it was opened on the second Sunday in March, 1866 by Rev. Dr. John Eadie. The initial cost was £2.927. There were later extensive alterations and improvements, which gave us the beautiful church, and comfortable place of worship, which it now is. Home mission work was undertaken by the congregation in the cast end of the town in 1876. At the beginning of 1878 the mission was erected by the Presbytery into a regular charge, under the name of Clune Park Church. On 7th August, 1883 Rev. W. W. Beveridge was ordained as Colleague and Successor to Rev. William Lauder. In November, 1891 the members celebrated the centenary of the congregation, the jubilee of Mr. Lauder, and the semi-jubilee of the church. From 1847 the name was Princes Street United Presbyterian Church.

The Princes Street church is no longer standing and in it's place are some small retails units. The Church can clearly be seen in some of the old photographs on the site and it was these photographs which promoted one person to get in touch with details of the church and it's congregation. The details here are taken from a booklet which was printed in 1966 to celebrate the Centenary of the church.

THE FIRST CHURCH

ON 20th October, 1790 the members met in the house of Duncan Ritchie at Barr's Braefoot. Only male members attended this meeting, females having no place in church affairs at that time. At the meeting it was resolved to build a place of worship, and to petition the Presbytery of Glasgow for supply of preaching. The petition was granted and supply given for the first time in May, 1791. The meeting-place was completed and ready for occupation in August of the same year. Like the majority of these Associate Churches it was a plain unpretentious building. A common question with which to pelt a Seceder was "What barn is that?" pointing to the building. A question to which at least on one occasion there came the witty answer, " Oh, that's the barn they thrash the Established Kirk in."
Steps were now taken to obtain the services of a settled pastor. It was not until November, 1793 that they were successful, and on the 28th November, 1793 the Rev. Andrew Lothian was ordained as the first minister of the congregation. He exercised a most successful ministry in a congregation which year by year showed an increase in numbers. The members were proud of and attached to Mr. Lothian, but in 1795 he received a call to Edinburgh. For four hard and troublesome years the church remained without a minister. Then in 1799 a call was addressed to Mr. David Inglis of Dunfermline. It was nearly a year between his call and ordination owing to illness. He was inducted on 27th May, 1800. In 1842 the congregation procured for him a colleague and successor, Rev. William Lauder, who subsequently became his son-in-law. Mr. Inglis died as the result of an accident at the age of 86 on 4th February, 1853.
Sunday School work commenced in the congregation in April, 1842, and later a Mission School was also formed. Frorn 1861 the church shared in the rising prosperity of the town-growing in numbers and influence. The old meeting-place which had housed the congregation for nearly 75 years now showed signs of decay, and steps were taken to have another place of worship.

A NEW NAME

ON 30th October, 1900 the United Presbyterian and the Free Church of Scotland united to form the United Free Church. Princes Street congregation entered heartily into the union for it enabled them to claim the privileges of a large church, while at the same time retaining their existing rights in the possession and control of their property. It was now Princes Street United Free Church.
The year 1902 saw the fine pipe organ installed in the church. In 1904 the Kirk Session decided to adopt the individual cup method of observing the Communion.
After the conclusion of the First World War a beautiful marble tablet was erected in the vestibule to commemorate those who gave their lives, and all who served and returned.
In September, 1920 the congregation agreed to introduce electric lighting into the church and hall, and carry through extensive re-decoration and repairs to the church premises. A scheme of such magnitude required great efforts by the congregation but it was to their credit that the church was re-opened for worship in August, 1921.

NOW A PARISH CHURCH

IN October, 1929 the union of the Established Church and the United Free Church was consummated, and the name now became Princes Street Church of Scotland. Some years later the General Assembly ordained that delimitation of all areas must be carried out so making each congregation responsible for an agreed 'parish'-thus all churches became Parish Churches.
On 6th February, 1930, Rev. Peter Lockhart was inducted junior Pastor. But after four years the church was to suffer vacancy again, when Mr. Lockhart demitted his charge to become Chaplain to the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, in September, 1934.

In 1956 the charge of Old Port Glasgow fell vacant. Approaches were made to Princes Street and Hamilton churches to unite, but this proved unsuccessful.

The Presbytery of Greenock gave notice to the congregations of Princes Street and Hamilton Churches, that the question would be raised again if a vacancy occurred in any of the three churches. In June, 1958 the charge of Hamilton Church fell vacant, and after negotations was transported to the new area, and opened as Hamilton Bardrainney Church on 14th November, 1958.
On 6th January, 1959 the charge of Princes Street fell vacant. The congregation resolved that a minister in full status should be demanded. After lengthy negotations with the Presbytery of Greenock and with deputies from the Assembly Committee, it was agreed to refer the whole case to the General Assembly when it met in May, 1959. After further inectings with Commissioners appointed by the General Assembly, it was decided to grant permission to the congregation to proceed to elect a minister in full status, subject to age qualification. Thus a protracted struggle came to a satisfactory conclusion with the election in June, 1960 of the Rev. J. L. Sidney Smith, minister of the South Church, Uphall.

Rev J L Sidney Smith who was in charge of the church at the time of writting the centenary booklet in 1966, pictured here outside his home 68 Lillybank Road.

The Church closed in Spring/Summer 1972 I think - we were married 20 October 1972. The last minister Rev Sydney Smith's appointment was to be the last one in that Church. Princes Street, along with Newark, West Church, Clune Park,
some of Hamilton merged with the Old Parish Church which was renamed St. Andrew's. The powers that be at Church of Scotland HQs in Edinburgh felt that there were too many Churches in the same area with the population moving out and not enough Ministers to go round and decided to close Churches much to the annoyance of the congregations (some of them left the Church and didn't go to St. Andrew's) .

Hope this is of some help to you. I was not living in Port Glasgow at the time of the closure and was broken hearted when I saw the Church being used as a Dunbar's Store - it was such a beautiful Church.

Mrs Morrison recalls the closure of the church...........

This page last modified on Friday, April 02, 2010

Rev David Inglis

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