Most established United Presbyterian Churches were set up originally as Missions and Kenmure was no exception.
Springburn United Presbyterian Church began in November 1855 in a disused weaver's shop. They called James A. Johnston to be their first minister in 1856 and a few years later built their first church. The Kirk Session was aware that many new houses were being built in the Colston area of Bishopbriggs and decided to open a Home Mission Station there. This was probably in the early 1860s.
Fernbank, High Possil Road (now The Lion Hotel, Colston Road) a
large house in over an acre of ground, was built for a member of
the Reid family who owned Hydepark Locomotive Works,
He sold it to Thomas Keay, a fellow member of the
church. Mr. Keay offered the use of one of his outhouses, a disused
laundry, and laid the foundation of what became Kenmure Church
The Mission was successful and
soon outgrew the premises. It
moved to Cleland's Hall, a wooden
building that probably was
situated on Auchinairn Road
where the new Auchinairn
Medical Practice now stands and
later used as a mission hall by
Springfield United Free Church. It
was not very accessible for the
Colston area as most people
walked with only a few having
access to a pony and trap. The first
person to be baptised there was
Mary McAllister Kinniburgh, born
17th December 1866 to founder
members James Kinniburgh and
his wife, Rose Kennedy the great
grandfather and great
grandmother of Ian Gray. She
died in 1906.
Four generations of this family have been baptised in Kenmure.
Mary McAllister Kinniburgh
The International Order of Good Templars, a temperance
organisation, owned a hall in Schoolfield Lane, in the old village of
Bishopbriggs, sited between the Low Road and the railway line.
Since 1870 it was used by The Herald of Peace, Lodge of Good
Templars as a Railway Mission to warn workers of the dangers of
taking strong drink, i.e. spirits.
In June 1879 they sold the hall to the Home Committee of the
Board of Missions of the United Presbyterian Presbytery of
Glasgow. Thomas Keay, (59) Fernbank, a bank agent and William
Hamilton, (63) Blackmount Cottage, a printer and publisher
bought it for £500 for use by the now Bishopbriggs U.P. Mission
and the title deed is dated 17th July 1879. The numbers attending
grew. Members included; David Henderson, (29) Ruskin Square,
joiner; James Kinniburgh, (33) No. 2 Row, High Kenmure; iron
miner, Robert Nisbet, (31) Schoolfield House, joiner; and Robert
Steel, (30) Quin's Land, iron miner.
In 1879 a petition was sent signed by members and adherents to
the U.P.P. to be made up to a congregation. Permission was given
to call a minister and Charles Dick was inducted in October 1879.
His stipend was based, as were all ministers of the day, on the price
of a chalder (half meal and half barley) about £23 + £20 for
communion expenses. He lived in rented accommodation as there
was no manse.
There were now 53 members and the U.P.P. appointed Assessors,
James Reid, Lenzie and William Hamilton, a music publisher,
Bishopbriggs, who oversaw the pro-tem Kirk Session. William
Spiers was the first pro-tem session clerk. This situation lasted for
several years under the rules of the U.P.P. until they were seen as
'fit' to appoint their own session.
The church has had several names since its inception. Bishopbriggs
United Presbyterian Church 1879-1900, then in 1900 the Free
Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church came
together to form the United Free Church - those not in favour
formed the Free Church, known as the 'wee frees'. The name
Kenmure was introduced becoming Kenmure United Free Church
1900-1929. In 1929 the United Free reunited with the Church of
Scotland and it became Kenmure Church of Scotland.
The parish boundaries of Kenmure Parish were Bishopbriggs Cross, Crowhill Road, Colston Road, Ashgill Road, cross country to the
Forth and Clyde Canal, along the burn to Bishopbriggs Golf Course
reappearing at Kenmure Drive back to Bishopbriggs Cross.
Kenmure Hall used as Church 1879-1906
New Church at Bishopbriggs 1908
Kenmure United Free Church (once United Presbyterian) from a
hall in a backcourt in the village has moved to Viewfield Avenue.
Kirkintilloch Herald (5th Sept. 1906)
This simple statement disguises eleven years effort by a small
congregation of ordinary people whose vision, faith and
determination made it possible and who have left us this building
as their legacy.
In 1894 the poor state of Kenmure Hall, Schoolfield Lane used as
both church and hall from 1879 until 1906 and finally forcefully
abandoned through compulsory purchase in 1985, led to the Kirk
Session holding a special Congregational Meeting to discuss the
possibility of raising funds to find a site and build a sandstone
A Building Committee was formed on 20th December 1894 and of
those appointed Robert Steel and David Henderson were
associated with the original Home Mission of the 1870s and were
signatories of the petition to establish Bishopbriggs United
Presbyterian Church in 1879.
The other members were Messrs. Scotland, Alexander, Melville,
Lawson, Stirling, McLeod and Gilmour.
John Gilmour and David
Henderson worked for companies involved in the building of the
church, one as a stone mason the other a joiner, and for them it
would be a labour of love.
He was brought up in the Lodge at the gates of Kenmure House
and served his apprenticeship with Robert Kemp and Sons,
Joiners and Builders eventually becoming foreman joiner. He was
involved in much of the building of Bishopbriggs including the
present church and the extensive repairs out at Cadder Church.
After his marriage to Davina they lived at Hillcroft Terrace with
their two sons and three daughters. He was a founder of Bishopbriggs
Bowling Green in 1906 and was secretary of Bishopbriggs
Horticultural Society. He was also an authority on the history of
Auchinairn and Bishopbriggs. On his retirement he went to live
with his son John and his wife at The Groves, Auchinairn where
he died in 1968.
Fundraising was a major task and one effort was a promise card
given to each person who agreed to donate a fixed sum of money
per month to the fund. The members were divided into districts
with an elder responsible for the collection of donations.
The biggest effort was a bazaar, held in Springburn Public Hall for
three days in September, 1904 which raised £396.5.9d of
the target of £800.
Considering that the sale which was held in Reid Halls, Springburn
for the Jubilee in 1927 raised £310, this result, in 1904, was a great
At the opening of the Bazaar, Councillor Breeze, a member of
Glasgow Corporation, presided on Thursday. In his remarks he
spoke of the great struggle Mr. Dick had in the beginning as
Bishopbriggs was not then a growing district. On Friday ex Baillie,
John King, presided and he commented that the Church in general
was going through a testing time. On Saturday, Rev. Bruce
Meikleham, Rockvilla Church, presided praising the congregation
for its efforts.
When all the funds were totalled there was still a
shortfall on the amount needed to give the go-ahead to the builders
and 'some Christian gentlemen in Glasgow' offered to honour this.
It had taken 21 years since the new church was first proposed
before the Rev. Dick could make the announcement, in the year in
which he retired (1915) that the debt was cleared.
Like most important events at Kenmure it took a long time
between the inception and the reality. Eleven years of fundraising,
searching and negotiating. As early as March 1895, Robert
Scotland, Clerk to the Board of Management, reported that Rev.
Dick, Messrs Alexander, Melville and himself had met with a
surveyor and had marked off ground which was 150 feet along and
85 feet back at the public road (Cawder Road later called
Kirkintilloch Road). Another possibility was a site offered by the
factor of Kenmure Estate. This was close to Kenmure House, now
demolished, which stood between the present Brackenbrae House
and Bishopbriggs Golf Club. The third site was at the top of Quarry
Road, which became Viewfield Road and was close to a quarry.
The late Willie Ure, a member of the 182nd BB and an elder of
Kenmure, in his book Bishopbriggs - The Golden Years describes
it as being a menacing quarry. A second quarry with an island in it
was attractive to children because it had a 'beach' and both were
dangerous. A third quarry lay behind Viewfield Road and
Brackenbrae which was later filled in and the 182nd BB's first
football pitch was there.
The members preferred the Estate site as it was nearer the village
of Bishopbriggs but the Glasgow North Presbytery Committee felt
that the area of greatest growth was closer to Colston. A number of
stone villas were built in the Coltpark, Brackenbrae, Viewfield area
and along the main road in the late 19th and early 20th century.
They recommended that the present site be chosen.
Map of area, circa 1923
Plans had been requested from architects and the firms of
Thomson and Sandilands, Turnbull, Petrie, and Hamilton were to
the fore. After discussion and a vote Alexander Petries's plan was
adopted so long as he would guarantee not to exceed his estimate
of £1500. It was not until 1905 that sufficient money was available
to instruct the architect that the work could commence and the
foundation stone at last be laid.
Alexander Petrie, the architect came from Maryhill. He designed
Garbraid Church, Maryhill amongst others and one of the first
large buildings to have an elevator in Glasgow, a six storey narrow
red sandstone office building at 46-64 St Enoch's Square.
The original contractors were:
Mason: George Collier - Springburn £402.00
Joiner: Robert Kemp - Bishopbriggs £413.35
Slater: James Caldwell - Kirkintilloch £100.75
Plumber: James Johnston & Son - Bishopbriggs £60.00
Plasterer: Alexander Somerville - Kirkintilloch £52.30
Painter: John Orr & Sons - Glasgow £51.00
Heating: James Combe & Son - Glasgow £34.00
Bell (26"): William Bryden & Sons £52.00
Ironwork: Robert Johnstone - Bishopbriggs
Gas Pendants: Charles Henshaw - Edinburgh
Kenmure Church as it appears today
The church is a stone building on Gothic
lines, which occupies a corner site at the
junction of Viewfield Road and Viewfield
Avenue. It is partly enclosed by a stone wall
and four foot high iron railings. The gable
is surmounted by a stone belfry, having
arched openings and finial - an ornament
at the top - and a 26" bell.
The principal, or entrance of the church, faces north and has an
arched doorway flanked by stone buttresses. Above the door there
is a window with stone mullions - dividing bars between the
The windows are filled with tracery (intersecting ribwork) in the
uppermost part of the Gothic windows, which are lancet shaped
and filled with Cathedral glass.
No Longer in the Dark
In January 1925 a lamp was placed
outside the front door, donated (anonymously) by the family of
James Robertson, Duncryne, late superintendent of the Sunday
School who died in 1924.
. . . the building is adjacent to several large quarry holes and the
lamp has been fixed above the main doorway . . . worshippers will
have to find another excuse for absence from the evening service.
Kirkintilloch Herald, Jan. 1925
At some time in the 1950s, this lamp, which was square, must have
been damaged and replaced by the present one as it differs in
shape from the original and has an inscription.
The present lamp above the front entrance to the Church
The interior of the church is very plain with no stained glass or
detailed carvings. The original pulpit was across the back wall and
had a scrolled quotation from the Bible above it. 'O worship the
Lord in the beauty of holiness'. Pews, pulpit and doors are of
American red pine. The vestibule has two doors leading to the left
and right aisle and there were originally 350 sittings exclusive of
choir seats, a vestry (a robing room for the minister), two classrooms
upstairs, and a lavatory. The side windows are lancet shaped with
cathedral glass. There is an open timber roof with rafters of pitchpine
stained and varnished. The roof is tiled with two ventilators
fitted. There was a gas central heating system. The interior was lit
by gas pendants.
The church was closed for several weeks in August 1925 and met
back in Kenmure Hall. A complete redecoration of the church took
place after the installation of electric light in September 1925 and
at the re-opening service Rev Dr A Scott Pierson of West Kilbride
preached the sermon.
1927 view - note the high central pulpit, Charles
Dick Memorial on the left hand side
and the new
World War One Memorial on the right.
In the early 1920s the pulpit was lowered but
in 1927 when a new organ was installed it
entailed the building of a larger choir
platform and the raising of the pulpit. An
additional small dais was placed in the centre
of this platform to take the oak Baptismal
This was a gift from Robert Graham of
Altdessan, Bishopbriggs. It was unveiled by
Mrs Graham in November 1927 at the time of
the Jubilee. Miss Gilmour, a member of
longstanding, donated the baptismal linen.
The first baby to be baptised was Jean Irene
Bruce Montgomerie, the first child born on
the newly built homes on Kenmure Estate.
War Memorial 1914-18
The original War Memorial dedicated to those who fell in 1914-18 was the Fallen Heroes Tablet in the form of a shield designed
by Mr Findlay, sculptor, which was unveiled on Sunday 7th
September 1919. On Armistice Sunday 1927 a refurbished version
was unveiled. It had been enlarged and was mounted on an
alabaster plaque which was decorated with roses, thistles and
shamrocks surrounded by a copper wreath. The 182nd BB buglers
sounded the Last Post.
The plaque which can be seen on the left hand side is the memorial
to Rev. Charles Dick. A new organ was also installed but its
dedication had to be postponed because of the illness of the
minister. In 1929 the vestry was altered and in 1935 was moved
upstairs to make way for the Williamson Hall. The Ladies Working
Party donated money for new matting throughout the church
including the choir platform, pulpit and pulpit stairs.
communion table was
gifted by a long
serving member, the
late Miss Jane
McBride from money
left in her will. It was
dedicated on the 7th
March 1937. Four new
offertory plates to
match the table were
donated as was the
minister's communion chair. The pulpit seat was reupholstered.
Vandalism existed in those days too and in 1939 a window in the
Session Room had to be renewed and broken windows in the
War Memorial 1939-45
The greatest transformation to the church came in 1948. A decision
had been taken in 1947 that to commemorate those who had died
during the war the memorial should take the form of a new organ
and pulpit and a total refurbishment. This was a massive
undertaking for such a small congregation. The bulk of the work
was done by members and friends saving a lot of money. Since
September, 1947 they had worked every Saturday from 7.30am
sometimes until 9pm. The minister of Martyrs Church, Townhead,
was so impressed with the 1640 hours of voluntary labour given
that he based an appeal to his own congregation on it. Many
members also donated materials which saved around £500.
There had always been a problem with the roof ventilators and
they needed to be reduced by one third. The old pulpit and choir
platform had to be removed and a new one built designed to take
the weight of the 'new' 4-5 ton organ which was purchased from
Buccleuch Parish Church along with their pulpit. They had
amalgamated with St Stephen's, Cambridge St., which strangely
enough on its demise amalgamated with Springfield and was the
means of building a new church in Bishopbriggs - Springfield
Cambridge dedicated in 1972. The organ also required a pit.
Panelled sides were built and new posts for the platform were
adorned with blue chords to harmonise with the colour scheme.
The memorial to Charles Dick was placed where it is today on the
left hand wall of the church. Sadly it seems that the 1927 alabaster
war memorial was sold for the scrap value of £5. Pews had paint
removed to reveal the original grained pine and they were revarnished.
The electrics were overhauled at a cost of £1500. The
vestibule was renovated and coat pegs provided. Twenty ladies
armed with pails, soap and brushes scrubbed the church floor
ready for the rededication A new notice board was erected in the
church grounds. By 1949 the Organ Fund had raised £1604 from
members and friends and it was declared free of debt.
New lights were acquired for the church in 1964 from Cathcart
Church, aisle carpet runners were gifted by the Womans Guild and
the organ was overhauled. An iron grating at the church door was
removed as ladies were complaining that they caught their high
heels in it. An anonymous donor gifted money for new railings at
the church. In 1966 wire guards were placed on the front windows
to prevent vandalism.
On Monday 4th August 1970 there was a break-in at the church and
halls. They gained entrance via a window in Viewfield Hall and let
off fire extinguishers. Entrance to the church was also made
through a window in the Williamson Hall and the King's Colour
was torn down and left in the aisle. Some pews were damaged, the
Pulpit Bible was taken from the vestry and torn and other Bibles
damaged. The Queen's Colour was stolen but was later retrieved. A
work party was formed to clean up the mess.
The congregation contributed to a
fund in memory of Allan Williamson's
long service to Kenmure. This took
the form of a memorial clock, which
was placed on the right hand side wall
in the church and was dedicated in
A mysterious find of a hidden safe under the pulpit was made and
the records found were sent to the Scottish Records Office in
Edinburgh. There was a proposal to house the Communion silver
Over the next decade there was a lot of structural work required
because of subsidence. On old maps the ground on which Kenmure
is built is shown to have mine workings.
A donation of £100 was made by 18 members towards the repair of
the northeast corner wall. Refurbishment of the church buildings
was also necessary including new gas central heating. Again
members volunteered their services saving a lot of money. The sum
of £500 was donated towards the £585 needed for the protection
from vandalism of the windows facing Viewfield Avenue. The
church was also rewired and new lights installed at a cost of £4366.
A Fabric Fund Appeal raised £3210 from the congregation.
It was reported in 1997 that with the refurbishment of the upstairs
rooms at the church they were 'now in an acceptable condition'.
The car park was resurfaced in 1990 and two years later the church
was re-roofed. An induction loop which magnifies sound was
installed in 1999 from the legacy of Morris McKinnon. In 2000, to
mark the Millennium the legacy of Margaret Millar was used to
provide new stainless steel units for the hall kitchen which comply
with the latest environmental health provisos.
A list of work which needs to be undertaken was discussed at the
Annual Meeting on Wednesday 15th March, 2006. This could see
the congregation investing in some of the proposals to celebrate
the Centenary of the building and to ensure its existence for the
The first manse was not bought by the church until 1919. Before
this time ministers lived in a variety of rented accommodation. It
was in High Possil Rd and was called Ashwell. Up until the 1980s
there was a track from Milton across wasteland that came out
beside what is now the church car park so no doubt the minister
could cycle to the church that way. The old manse needed repairs
before it could be sold but £723.7/- was realised in
1928 when 15 Coltpark Avenue was bought at a cost of £1,232.10/-. The removal costs were £8.10/- and a new dresser
and fittings in the kitchen cost 23/-. A loan was required
for the difference and a member of the congregation kindly paid
the interest on a loan of £400.
Coltpark proved to be a costly manse and required a lot of
maintenance. Mr Williamson before he retired warned that it was
in such a shocking state that the Presbytery could withhold
permission for a call for a new minister. In 1962 Mr Heriot recalls
that on their first visit to the manse water had been cascading for
days from a burst tank and there was mildew everywhere. Mr
Penman called for volunteers to scrape the walls to remove the
fungus. Coal was bought in quantity and Mr Owen, church officer,
drew up a rota of ladies willing to light and tend fires every day so
that it would dry out. All the floorboards had been lifted and
replaced, new 13 amp sockets installed and members blitzed the
garden. Mrs Heriot was invited to select a new cooker. The
induction was in June but it was September before the manse was
In 1972 cracks were appearing in the walls of the kitchen and there
was woodworm in the bathroom. There was talk of buying a new
manse but it would require funding and none was presently
available. A decision was taken to install gas central heating. In
1977 the Fabric Committee reported that the kitchen was very
small with only a double sink, cooker and 2 work tops. No floor
units, no mid units, no wall units - the pantry could perhaps be
removed to make the kitchen larger. The cost of repairs and new
units was estimated at £1500 and the Womans Guild gave £200
towards the repairs. It was also noted that 'Mrs Jones forbearance
in working uncomplainingly in the existing conditions does her
great justice, but we are due no credit for continuing to permit it'.
Again it was suggested that a new manse should be bought.
By 1987 subsidence made major repairs necessary to the bay
window area and double glazing was put in. It was 1990 before a
modern house was chosen at Marchfield to the great relief of the
minister and his family.
A brick built building in Schoolfield Lane in the village was erected
for the Good Templars around 1870. It served as both church and
hall until 1906. From the 1890s there were complaints of a leaking
roof and other shortcomings which led to the determination of the
congregation to build a 'proper' church. The irony is that it
continued in use as one of the church halls until it was bought by
Caledonian Estates for £93,000 in 1985 and later demolished
when The Triangle Complex was built.
The demise of this hall was forever being prophesised. The loft was
declared unsafe in 1965 and required to be emptied. A rat catcher
had to be employed in 1968 and on many subsequent occasions.
The staircase in 1975 was reported as illegal because it had no
handrail and the hall was described in the minutes of the Board of
Management as 'tatty but sound'. It was in need of substantial
repairs which would cost around £3000 and there was a
temptation to borrow from the New Hall Fund. The fireplace and
stove were removed. Its life was given as 3 years in 1976 yet despite
this it was renovated. Again complaints were made in 1978 that
there were no wash hand basins in the toilets.
A public meeting was held in Bishopbriggs High School in
September 1978 to discuss redevelopment of the whole of the area
around Schoolfield Lane. Richard Dent, Chief Planning Officer,
spoke about the Bishopbriggs Local Plan and stated that 'there are
a number of buildings in the area which are going to have to be
relocated.' Councillor W.P.D. McIntyre pointed out that in an
earlier report, in 1972, Kenmure Hall was described as a derelict
building. He wished it to be recorded that it was in use every night
of the week by the church and several other groups.
To supplement its income the Hall had always been rented out
when available. In the 1880s and 90s electoral meetings were held.
In the 1920s The Eastern Star and the Loyal Orange Lodge met
there. The Parish Council, in 1900, wrote to the managers asking
for a written undertaking that the hall would only be used for
religious purposes. In the 1970s the Independent Baptist Church
rented the hall as did the Dog Training Club, the Old People’s Club,
who required seating for over 100, the Amalgamated Society of
Woodworkers and the Pigeon Fanciers. By 1985 the income from
Strathclyde Regional Council was £2080 per year.
A private person made an offer of £3500 to buy the hall in 1967
and in 1974 the Independent Baptist Church was also interested.
The hall was eventually sold to Caledonian Estates in 1985 for
£93,000 which provided money towards the New Hall.
It was demolished soon after to make way for The Triangle.
Members were sorry to see it go as they had many memories of
happy times spent there.
It was thought, in the 1930s, that it would be desirable to have a
hall attached to the church. Plans for fundraising were put in
motion and a decision was taken to move the vestry upstairs and
build on the hall on the right hand side at the back of the church.
The work began in 1935 and it was dedicated and opened on 9th
October 1936 by Mrs Williamson.
Invitation to the Opening. Miss French became Mrs Margaret Gray
It was a popular addition and has been in use for 70 years and has
been refurbished on several occasions. In 1991 a joint appeal 'buy-a-slate
for 50p' was made to raise £25,000 needed to re-roof the
church and the hall.
A member of the congregation donated a timber hut to the church
in 1965. It was decided that it would be erected in the grounds at
the back of the building. It was a long drawn out process which
required permission from the Glasgow Presbytery and it was not in
use until December 1968 at a cost of £431 for wiring, fitting a toilet
and lining the walls. Unfortunately it was in an isolated position,
the church backed onto a factory and fields in those days, and it
suffered from vandalism - broken windows and graffiti were
common problems. It was put up as a temporary measure but was
in use for 18 years.
Viewfield Hall did help to relieve congestion but was never
considered a solution to the problem. There was a possibility of
buying land at the back of the church on which to build a hall but
unfortunately this fell through.
From 1965 onwards the congregation set up a New Hall Fund with
A committee was appointed and there were car treasure hunts,
beetle drives, sales of work, fetes, coffee mornings and all the usual
efforts. Waste paper was collected by members of the choir who
volunteered one evening per month to cover the members in the
Parish and Milton. It was stored in the manse garage. Mrs Curley
organised a collection of woollen rags and Robert Lindsay sold
ballpoint pens for 1/- each, these were a great success and
over several years brought in a good income. Targets were set and
organisations were asked to meet these each year. This was not
By 1966 the sum of £2272 was in the fund and by 1968 this had
risen to £4078. An extraordinary meeting of the congregation was
held in 1968 to seek permission to borrow £400 from the fund to
pay for repairs to Kenmure Hall. In 1970 tea towels printed with a
map of Bishopbriggs were popular and added to the funds.
An Exhibition about Kenmure - the Last 100 Years, organised by
Mr Burnett, was held in Kenmure Hall and members were asked to
promise to donate 5/- per week over 2 years and 24 members
signed up bringing in a total of £600. There were plans and an
artist's drawing of the proposed hall on show.
Another raid on the fund was successful and at a special meeting in
August 1974 permission was granted to borrow the sum of £2000
needed to pay for necessary maintenance at the church and
Kenmure Hall from the Fund which by this time stood at £7319.
The Glasgow Presbytery would not permit the repairs unless the
Kirk Session could guarantee the required sum. The motion was
passed by 33 votes for and 3 against and soon after this the New
Hall Fund was merged with the Fabric Fund.
Rev Phillip Jones with
Mrs Wilson, Rev Dr
Andrew Herron, and
Jimmy Reid, Church
At last, almost 30 years from being first mooted, there was a final
push in 1986 which raised the £9000 which would complete the
sum of £121,000 which the hall would now cost. The builders were
J. H. Gray, Kilsyth. On Saturday, 28th April, 1987 the hall was
dedicated and opened by Mrs Sarah Wilson, a member of Kenmure
for 66 years and first Officer in Charge of the Lifeboys in 1928. On
this auspicious occasion Janette McDonald, mother of Rev Sandy
McDonald who was also present, and Margaret Gray were
presented with certificates signed by the Moderator of the General
Assembly, Robert Craig, to mark 50 years membership. They were
also signed on the back by Dr Herron.
Wilson turns the
key of the New Hall