The Village of Chryston - North Lanarkshire - Scotland
Churches THE PARISH CHURCH. Prior to 1779 there was no place of worship in Chryston. The villagers and those from the surrounding area walked the five miles or more to Cadder Parish Church, which was at that time responsible for their spiritual welfare. Later a small chapel was erected at Drumsack near Auchinloch, where a service was conducted every third Sunday. The bell of !his chapel, after its demolition, was given into the care of Mr Mark Sprot of Garnkirk House. On 21st May 1779, at Auchinloch, a committee was formed and the decision taken to erect a "Chapel of Ease" at Chryston. As the name suggests it was to "ease" the situation of parishioners for worship. This committee was made up of the following: Alex. Dun, Minister of Cadder; James Gray, Chryston; James Gray, Wamflet; John Calder, Daviston; David Muir, Gartferry; George Drew, Burnbrae; John Tennant, Croftfoot; Robert Wright, Garnqueen; James Baird, Auchinloch; Thomas Scott, Broomknowes; Patrick Baird, Auchinloch; John Drew (address not given). Four days later they marked out the ground for the Chapel, being part of a yard belonging to James Gray, Sen., of Wamflet: "The Committee communed with John Gray, mason in Meadowside, for the mason work, and with William Martin, wright in Glasgow, to put a roof upon the said Chapel." The following month they agreed to give John Gray (mason) 40 shillings sterling money for each rood of good and sufficient stone work, and to give John Watson 14 pence a day for quarrying stones for the Chapel. A year later, after due inspection of the completed Chapel, John Gray was paid £40 for the stonework. The managers then proceeded to let the 450 capacity of the Chapel until Whitsunday 1781 "upon the terms that the takers may either pay their money now or at any time before the last day of June first to come and if not then paid they are to forfeit their seats". The Rev. Archibald Provan was elected minister of the Chapel on 1st January 1780 and he held the charge until 1793. His initial salary was £40 per year. He was succeeded in turn by: Rev. Graham, 1793-1800; John Dick, 1801-06; John Somers, 1807-10; Thomas Lockerby, 1811- 18; James Young, 1819-53; John MacLeod, 1853-63; and John Moodie, 1863-81. Of these gentlemen James Young was remembered for his eccentricity. He was an excellent preacher and pastor to his flock, but he dressed like a tramp and lived in circumstances alike to a pauper. Despite this he was liked by the members, and they gave short shrift to a Glasgow Presbytery deputation who sought to investigate his strange behaviour. John Moodie is recalled as the minister who successfully saw the granting of the decree, on 20th June 1870, for endowment and elevation of the Chapel and District of Chryston into a Church and Parish Quoad Sacra. Seven years later he steered through a decision to demolish the Chapel of Ease and build a larger edifice capable of holding 818 persons. This new church was opened, free of debt, on 4th August 1878, the total outlay being £3,920, of which almost two thirds was subscribed by the members. In the 110 foot spire, which is visible for miles around, was placed a bell weighing 8 cwt. In 1884 the present clock was installed, costing £70 12s. (£70.60), this amount being subscribed by proprietors of land in the parish and resident gentry in the district. In the interim period between the demolition of the Chapel and entry to the Church the services were held in Chryston Public School, and latterly the newly-opened drill hall. The bell of the Chapel was presented to the school and was used daily until the closure of the school. It was unfortunately not riecovered during demolition of the school to make way for the Chilterns Home in 1975. In 1843, in the wake of the Disruption, the formation of Chryston Free Church took place. The owner of Bedlay House, Alex. Campbell, supplied free of charge sufficient stone from his Bedlay quarry to enable it to be built. Its first minister was the Rev. William Burnett, who during his ministry of 1845-67 reaped the great upsurge of religious fervour of the time. A brass plaque on the vestibule wall at the former entrance of the building records his labours "especially in 1860-61 when over 100 persons were added to the church most of them as fruit of the revival". He was also responsible for the erection of the manse, now West House. He was succeeded in turn by the Rev. Robert McMorran, 1867-70, the Rev. Thomas McAdam, 1870-80, and the Rev. Andrew Shepherd, 1881-1930. In 1900, during Mr Shepherd's ministry, the union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church took place, so constituting the United Free Church of Scotland. Twenty-nine years later union with the Established Church took place. The U.F. Church became known as the West Church of Scotland and the Parish Church the East Church of Scotland. Following Mr Shepherd's long and valued ministry there were the ministries of the Rev. David Y. Howie, 1931-37, the Rev. Wilbur C. Lavalette, 1938-44, and the Rev. James Minnie, 1945-48, who was the last minister of the West Church. Until the outbreak of World War II the "Wakening up bell" was rung every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. by the beadle of the church. This feature was not resumed after the hostilities. The Rev. William Davidson in 1882 succeeded Mr Moodie at the Parish Church and continued to minister there for 47 years, when he resigned owing to ill-health. His long and untiring efforts to the members and parish are recorded by a tablet on the north wall, inside the building. He was succeeded by the Rev. Alex. L. Bennett, 1930-35, and the Rev. George W. Macarthur, 1936-70. Mr Macarthur saw active service during World War II and was a British Expeditionary Force survivor. He later served in other theatres of war, and was awarded the Territorial Decoration. In 1949 he was instrumental in ensuring a linking arrangement between the West and East churches, culminating the following year in a successful union of these congregations. The West Church was then reconstructed to form a hall, with the demolition of the church officer's house and the small school. Mr Macarthur also made history in 1959 by being the first minister from the landward parishes of the Presbytery of Glasgow to be installed as its Moderator. In the same year he had the harrowing experience of officiating at the memorial service to the 47 men killed in the Auchengeich pit disaster, and of giving comfort to the bereaved families. He retired from the ministry in 1970, but was one of the preachers at the Centenary celebrations of the church in 1978. He died on 23rd February 1985, and the following year a stained glass window was dedicated to his memory. It depicted the Good Samaritan and the Good Shepherd, with a Miner's Lamp and Regimental Crest-so covering the attributes of this well liked preacher. Mr Macarthur was followed by the Rev. W. Gordon Haggarty, 1971-76, and the present incumbent, the Rev. Martin A. W. Allen. iIn September 1978 special services and a week of events were held to mark the centenary of the church building. A plaque was placed on the inside south wall and unveiled by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt. Rev. Peter Brodie. UNITED FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND . In 1929 the decision to unite the United Free Church of Scotland with the Established Church of Scotland did not meet with the approval of all members, the voting in favour being 162 and those against 133. Some of the minority decided to carry on their form of worship, and on 25th November 1929 the United Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) was formed. At its outset services were held in the Masonic Hall, until the present church in Church Road was opened, on 3rd January 1931. It cost £1,080. The Service of Dedication was conducted by the Rev. J. G. Clark, Moderator of the Glasgow and South West Presbytery, and just over a fortnight later the first Induction and Ordination of Elders took place. They were John C. Barr; David J. Bell, John Bennett, James Dyer, John A. Fleming, William Forrest, William Frame, Samuel Grubb, Alex. W. Lochhead, Robert McFarlane, Duncan Malcolm, James Smith and Oswald Wright. The initial membership was 159, rising in 1962 to its highest total of 390, before varying to the present total of about 150. The continuing existence of the church is due to the dedicated work through the years of its ministers, office-bearers, Sunday School teachers, organists and church officers. MOORPARK GOSPEL HALL. In October 1892 the Assembly was founded in the house of a Mr Pirie, who earlier had settled in Muirhead from Lossiemouth, and he was supported by a local resident, Mr James Fleming. Meetings were also held in a barn near Auchinloch, and some time later the Assembly moved into the Evangelistic Hall, which stood on the corner of Cumbernauld Road and Lindsaybeg Road, directly opposite the old Toll House. This Hall served the Assembly until just before 1939 when deterioration of the structure was noted. A new hall was opened in October 1957 and named "Moorpark Hall", later changed to "Moorpark Gospel Hall". Members have always been interested in the welfare of local people, and in earlier days Saturday Night Tea Meetings, Sunday School Socials in the Public Hall and trips by rail from Garnkirk Station (and later by doubledecker bus) fulfilled this. Activity has continued to the present day with special attention being given to senior citizens. THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCHES . Prior to 1871 parishioners in this area attended St Patrick's Church in Coatbridge or a church in Glasgow, reaching there on foot or by horse transport. With the increasing numbers, especially in Garnkirk village, about 1,000 catholics from nine north Lanarkshire villages petitioned for a new church and school to be erected in the vicinity of Stepps, which was central to all concerned. Their petition met with success. St Joseph's Church, Cardowan, was dedicated in 1875. In 1901 a school was opened adjacent to the church. Before this time classes were held in the church, during which a curtain was drawn across the Sanctuary. The small hall in Garnkirk village was also used. ST BARBARA'S R. C. CHURCH . Parishioners continued to worship at St Joseph's Church, but in February 1947 the decision was taken to form the Parish of St Barbara. This was made in view of the increasing number of parishioners in the Muirhead and Chryston area, their inconvenient journey to Cardowan and the limited accommodation of the church there. It was nine years later that the new church to serve the parish was opened for worship. The first services were held in February 1956 and the building was dedicated in April of the same year by Bishop Scanlan. It stands in Elmira Road, Muirhead, adjacent to the school, and has another entrance from Drumcavil Road. It has accommodation for 600. In the autumn of 1992 a hall was erected adjacent to the church; it was formally opened and dedicated on 5th December of that year by Father Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell. In May 1993 bronze plaques depicting Saint Barbara were placed over the porch in front of the church and also over the hall door. ST MICHAEL'S R.C. CHURCH. Some years after the formation of St Barbara's Church a similar situation arose in Moodiesburn, with the growth of that area, and the decision was taken to form the Parish of St Michael. The first sod of the new church, in Glenmanor Road, was cut in February 1964 by Archbishop Scanlan of Glasgow, and the service of dedication was held on 24th April 1966, conducted by the Right Reverend Francis Thomson, Bishop of Motherwell. The new building caught the eye with its circular shape. It can accommodate upwards of 900. In the mid-1980s a hall was built adjacent to the church, to be used for various purposes for the benefit of the parishioners.
The Story of Chryston
by Neil Kidd