Thursday, September 20, 2012

St. John's Wayside Chapel

Having failed to gain permission from the Glasgow Presbytery to plant a much needed new parish church in the city, Thomas Chalmers and the session of St. John’s Parish Church were grudgingly allowed to create a “chapel of ease” or a “wayside chapel” within the boundaries of their current parish district in 1822.

The spare and utilitarian building was designed by the renowned architect John Baird and had a capacity of about 300 worshippers.  It also contained a number of classrooms within which several community classes were conducted and a small parish school convened.

It was popularly known as the Potters Kirk, because of the large number of the congregation employed in that trade--the Annfield pottery factory was just across the Gallowgate.  Indeed, the church provided a remarkable cultural and spiritual hub for the blighted jumble of the industrial neighborhood. 

The small bell-tower originally carried a small spire, creating a much-needed landmark for the otherwise dreary community. But it was removed sometime just before the Disruption of 1843.

Following the Disruption, the remaining congregants applied for parish status and in 1846 it was renamed St. Thomas Parish Church.  But, the largest proportion of the members had followed their mentor, Chalmers, into the Free Kirk.  Eventually, the parish was recombined with St. John’s and the building became redundant.  The building was sold to the Wesleyan Methodists but the decline in the neighborhood brought even that enterprise to an end and the chapel closed its doors in 1973.  Derelict, the historic building was torn down in 1976 and replaced by a corner market and a fast food outlet.

No comments: