A SHORT HISTORY of BAINSFORD CHURCH
A SHORT HISTORY
A SHORT HISTORY OF BAINSFORD CHURCH
REV. DAVID J. B. ANDERSON
AND GEORGE GLADSTONE'
The compilersof this short history wish to put on record their
to all who haveprovidedinformation about thesefirst 100
yearsin BainsfordChurch. In particular, we would like to thank our
SeniorElder, Mr David Rennie,our Treasurer,Mr John Tait, and our
former DeaconessMiss Buchan for a variety of rnaterial which has
provedinvaluablefor the taskin hand.
The Church Records for the period have also been a mine of
information ashavetwo biographies:one by G. F. Barbour. "The Life
of Alexander Whyte"; the other by Andrew Woolsey; "Duncan
Campbell"; both publishedby Hodder and Stoughton. In addition,
various Church Histories.local and national have been consultedfor
Our aim throughout this brief history has been to selectfrom this
welterof materialthe salientfactsand featuresfor eachperiod. For any
omissionsor errors that may have been made we must apologisein
In this our CentenaryYear,it is our hopeand prayerthat thesepages
may help in some small way to rekindle old memories,revive fresh
interest. and call Bainsford Church back to her livins roots in the
Gospeland in Christ.
DAVID J. B. ANDERSON
A SHORT HISTORY OF BAINSFORD CHURCH
UP TO THE FIRST WORLD WAR. IE43.I9I7
The origin of BainsfordChurch may be tracedas far back as 1843.
In that year DR THOMAS CHALMERS, an earnestand inspiring
preacher,and the leaderof the EvangelicalWing of the Church,led more
than 400ministersout of the GeneralAssemblyto form the FreeChurch.
The principlefor which Dr Chalmersand many othersstoodwasthat of
the spiritual independenceof the Church from the State. In particular,
he was concernedto uphold the right, which we take for granted
nowadays,of the congregationto call its own minister. Within four
yearsof this epochmakingeventthe FreeChurch had raisedfl,254,W
and built 654newChurches.
One of thesenew Churches,Falkirk Free Church was established
in 1844at GarrisonPlace. Then, becauseof limited space,part of the
Old ParishMansegardenwaspurchasedand beforelong a new Church
facing New Market Streetwas built, the presentSt. Andrews Church.
Believingthat the churchis not an end in itself but primarily concerned
to promotethe Christiangoodof the wholepopulation,the congregation
of St. Andrewssoonstartedto evangelise
the outlyingpartsof Falkirk.
The foundationsof BainsfordChurchwerelaid around 1860by the
REV. E. M. RATE when meetingswere held in a small house in
Granary Square(behindthe presenthome bakery). Attendancessoon
increasedand thereafter it was necessaryto move, first to the old
BainsfordSchool(in what is now Union Street),and then to an old barn
in the Main Streetor Inglislandas it was then known. By his untiring
efforts-for he sparedneitherhimselfor his money-Mr Rategathered
the people round him in such numbersthat in 1871the North End
Mission Hall had to be built. Meantime,with the parish of Bainsford
continuingto expandrapidly to the North and to the East (i.e. Carron
Road and Banksideareas)the North End Mission was grantedthe full
statusof a Churchin 1878.Thus BainsfordFreeChurchwasformedand
the REV. ALEX. PATERSON, M.A., was calledto be its first minister
in April, 1878.
All true spiritualmovementsareborn in prayerand from all accounts
therewas a strongemphasisin theseearly dayson corporateprayer. In
fact, a Congregational
and this factor, allied to the faithful preachingof the Gospeland the
rapidly expanding population, led to a significant increasein the
membership.Beginningwith 30 membersin the Old Schoolroom,there
was in 1889(whenhe died) a congregationof about 300members,with
a large Church and evenat that time, a small but usefui Church Hall free
Three 'firsts' werealsoto take placeduring this ministry, Mr Robert
Stewart was made Clerk to the Deacon'sCourt; Elder, Mr Robert
Sneddonwasappointedthe Church'sfirst official Treasurer;and at the
samemeetingin May, 1880a Mr JamesGrant was appointedChurch
Officer for the princely sum of f.5 per annum.
The most significanteventof theseyearswas, however,the building
of the present Bainsford Church. Under Mr Paterson'sinspiring
leadershipthe Church waserectedand on July lst, 1880the doorswere
openedfor the first time. The foundationstonehad beenlaid by the late
SIR THOMAS BRODIE, of Powfoulis, who along with Lady Brodie
and Miss Dawsontook much practicalinterestin the new congregation.
When Mr Patersonpassedaway on December28th, 1889,one thing
is certain, as the text of the memorial tablet in our vestibuletestifies
so fittingly: "He beingdeadyet speaketh.
The REV. C. J. T. MERRYLEES, M.A. was calledto succeedhim
and was ordained in May, 1890. From this point, under his gifted
leadershipand inspiringexample,the influenceof the Churchexpanded
rapidly, the membershipincreasingfrom year to year. In addition, the
building of the presentMansewas startedin 1894. It is interestingto
note that, contrary to popular belief, Bainsford Church sufferedmore
from teenagevandalism in these early days than at the present time.
Also, despiteincreasingmembership,there were still from all accounts
vast multitudeswithout Church commitment. Perhapsthen we should
be more cautiousthan we are in speakingof the 'Good Old Days' when
nearlyeverybodywent to Church! In the springof 1901,Mr Merrylees
was translatedto Paisleyleavingbehind him many tokens of a useful
The REV. D. M. MUNRO was inductedin October, 1901. By this
time the name of the Church was Bainsford United Free Church, the
Free Church and the United PresbyterianChurch having united to form
the United FreeChurchin October,1900.Although Mr Munro occupied
the pastorate for only six years, he sustainedthe same record of
steadyprogress. In particular, by his sound pulpit ministration and
his devotionto the dutiesof his high office, he endearedhimselfto his
congregationand a wide circleof friendsin the district.At the closeof 1906
hewascalledto a nervchargein theGraniteCity, the High Church,Aberdeen.
The next ministerof Bainsfordwas a native of Inverness,the REV.
H. M. ROSS,M.A. and on April l6th, 1907,this soft spokenHighlander
wasinductedto the pastorate. In variouswaysMr Rossprovedto be a
tower of strengthas he gavehimself with unreserveddedicationto his
task. During his ministry the P.S.A. (PleasantSundayAfternoon) was
started. The presentChurch Hall was also built at this time. Then in
July, 1912,a MissionaryMr ThomasMalcolm commencedhis dutiesin
the North End Hall, and meetingswerewell attended.Moreover,a door
to door visitation was successfully
undlsllaken,while an additional
SundaySchoolwasopenedin the North End Hall.
ln 1914,when war broke out, the Hall was commandeered
Army, and soldiersoccupiedit for a period. In August, 1915,Mr Ross
left to servewith the Y.M.C.A. in Franceand in his absencethe pulpit
by Mr HerbertLockyer,at that time
missionaryto the CameroniansInstitute in Falkirk. The well known
Christianpreacherand author, the Rev. Dr AlexanderWhyte, D.D. (St.
Bainsford for his close friend and former associateMr Ross: one
particular Communion Sunday being describedas "a rich spiritual
feast." ("The Life of AlexanderWhyte"-G. T. Barbour p.481).
Towards the end of 1916, however, Mr Ross was called to Bon
Accord Church,Aberdeen,leavingbehindmany friends,someof whom
still rememberhim todayas "Happy Harry."
. ; . , . -"
Our picture shows back row, l. to r.-Rev. David Anderson, Rev. Dr. Donald McAllister, Rev. Dr. Heron and the R.ev.Maudeen MacDougall. Front row,
l . t o r . - J , a m e s P a t e r s o n , J o h n T a i t , M i s s M a r g a r e t B u c h a n , E d w a r d P e n m a n , D a v i d i ? . e n n i ea n d W i l l i a m C a r e y . J o h n L a i r d w a s u n a b l e t o b e p r e s e n i
because of illness'
photo by courter/of the "The Falkirk Heratd"
BETWEEN THE WARS 191E.1945
On the first day of March 1917, the REV. THOMAS B.
ROBERTSON, M.A. from Newhills United Free Church Aberdeen,
becamethe new minister of Bainsford Church. By this time the
membershipof the Churchhad more than doubledfrom 300in 1890to
688 in 1917. Facedwith the difficult task of maintainingthis steady
progress,Mr Robertsonsoon proved to be a worthy successorto his
predecessors.Early in l9l8 a congregationalmeeting was specially
convenedto considerthe buildingof a wall round the Church. The work
wasauthorisedfor a mereL142. Despitesometraumaticencounterswith
heavyvehicles,the Church and its precinctsstill retain their present-day
aspect. At this juncturethe War Memorial situatedat the south sideof
the Church was erected. The Boys' Brigadealso cameinto beingat the
ministry Mr Robertson
closeof 1920. After a vigorousand enthusiastic
receiveda call to the WestChurch,Auchterarder.OnceagainBainsford
waslooking for a newMinister.
In June, 1922,REV. WILLIAM HERON, a former Home Missionary, wascalledto BainsfordChurch. His ministrylastedalmosta decade
duringwhichtime therewasa steadygrowthintermsof both membership
this period. ln 1923
and finance. Severalnew featuresalsocharacterise
the Young WorshippersLeaguewas formed to encouragechildren to
attend Church and still continuesto this day. Then, in 1925, the
congregationdisposedof the Common Cup and changed over to
Individual Cups for Communion Services. Mr John Fyfe, a well
respectedand godly man, was appointed SessionClerk in 1927 and
continuedin that office until October,1940. The formation of a branch
of the Girls' Guildry took placein the autumnof 1928.
Perhapsthe most significantof all changes,however,took placein
1929. In that year negotiationsfor union betweenthe Church of
Scotlandand the United FreeChurchcameto a head. Bainsfordagreed
to the Union and thus remainsto this day BainsfordParish Church of
Scotland. There were a minority who dissented,however,and these
formed the BainsfordUnited Free(Continuing)Churchbasedin Carron
Road. It is interestingto notethat whenDR TOM FITCH (a muchloved
namein theseparts)cameto BainsfordChurch for a specialmission,he
wasstruckby the warmheartedsupportgivenby the youngincumbentof
BainsfordUnited FreeChurch. His namewas Duncan Campbell,now
well known in the history of the Scottish Church, as a key figure
in the great Lewis Revival of 1952. Meantime, Bainsford Church
had again fallen vacant, as in September,1931,Mr Heron had been
The spiritual momentum of Mr Heron's ministry was soon to be
consolidatedand sustainedby his successor,
REV. J. M. McALISTER.
A man of sound Christianprincipleand holy zeal,Mr McAlister was,
from the momentof his inductionin January,1932,deeplyconcernedto
bring the "Good News" to everyareaof the parish. For this important
was urgentlyrequired. In the first place,Mr
Cameron, our full time assistantfor three years was soon to leave,
Secondly,a Presbyterydeputationhad concludedthat BainsfordParish
was "largely in excessof the average" and, not for the first time,
seriouslyconsideredthe possibilityof building another Church in the
This matterwassatisfactorilyresolvedin December,1933,whenMiss
M. J. Buchanwaswarmlywelcomedasa Deaconess
Her work provedto be both invaluableand fruitful and still continuesto
this day about 45 yearslater althoughofficially sheis supposedto have
retiredin 1966! Apart from door to door visitation,and SundaySchool
work,'undertakenin theseearly days againsta backgroundof rising
unemploymentand severeeconomicdepression,Miss Buchanbegana
Womans' Meetingin the North End Hall which still providesspiritual
comfort to this very day.
The years precedingthe outbreak of war in 1939 were, from all
accounts,marked by changeand challenge. The challengecame to
membersand non-membersalike through an increasingemphasison
prayer and Bible Study within the church and a seriesof evangelistic
campaignsto reach the uncommittedoutside. Typical of the Session
minutes during this period was the decision, unanimously carried
in December,1935that what was neededabove all was "a spiritual
quickeningin Bainsford." Changestook place to meet this challenge
with "At Home" meetings,and SabbathSchoolsheld in the North End
Hall, Merchiston Avenue, and later, during war-time at Cobblebrae
Farm. It wasalso at this time, in 1938to be exact,that we receivedthe
gift of our presentCommunionTablefrom a Churchin Strone.
During the War the Church continuedto play an important part
in the community. "What concerned one, concerned all" and
with regular Servicesdaily in addition to "Fire watching," Civil
Devenceduties, and other pressingresponsibilities,a new senseof
comradeshipand mutual sharingwasborn.
THE POST-WAR PERIOD 1945-I97E
Whenthe war ended,a new era cameto Bainsford. In previousyears
therehad been,it is true, controversialmattersraisedsuchas proposals
to appoint Woman Elders and use the Church Hall for Whist and
Dancing. Both of theseproposalswere,however,firmly rejectedby the
congregation. In the light of a further expansionof the Parish of
Bainsford,first at Cobblebrae,later at Langlees,matterssuchas these
appearedless important than the primary and pressingneed of the
Churchto visit thesenewhousingareason our doorstep.For thisreason,
severalParishvisitationstook placein thesedistrictswith varyingsuccess.
Severalnoteworthyeventstook placearoundthe sametime. In 1955,
the Sessionagreedthat a Youth Fellowshipbe started. In the sameyear,
we receivedfrom Mr GabrielBlane,the gift of the presentOrganwhich
was much appreciatedby all, not least our esteemedOrganist, Miss
Nan Cowan,who had cometo our Churchin 1952, Then in 1957,it was
decidedto alter our Communion Servicefrom the afternoon to the
evening,a move which resultedimmediatelyin increasedattendances.
It was in 1958,however,that Mr McAlister, doggedfor many years
by ill health,intimatedhis retiral. Alas, beforethe yearhad ended,this
godly and faithful man had passedaway-away from the people he
had lovedso deeplybut not from the Masterhe had servedso well.
The vacancyendedon March l7th, 1959with the inductionof the REV.
JOFIN MacDOUGALL, M.A. a noted Gaelicexponent,from Plockton
and Kyle. Thus begana ministry which lasted fifteen yearsuntil his
At varioustimeshe wasModeratorof the local Presbytery,Chaplain
to the old folks in Falkirk, and also to the Bainsford Schools. Many
eventstook placeduring his ministryamongwhich werea GaelicService
broadcastby the B.B.C. in November,1964,and a gardenfete held in
the grounds of Dawson Park School in June, 1966 and opened by
Dr Caskie,the "Tartan Pimpernel." Then on October6th, 1971,Mr
MacDougall celebratedhis semi-jubileeas a minister-this was commemorated by the office-bearerspresentinghim with an inscribed
wristwatch. In addition, a successfulventurewas held from October
27th - 29th, 1973,when a ChurchExhibition was held. All the Church
On Sunday,October5th, 1975a Memorial Servicewasheld in which
a Hanging Lantern, New Pulpit Falls, and a Plaque were dedicatedto
the late minister. Bv his friendlinessand sense of humour Mr
MacDougall had endearedhimself to many people in Falkirk and in
Meantime,almosta yearpreviously,a new ministerhad beencalled
to BainsfordChurch. On November20th, 1974,REV. DAVID J. B.
ANDERSON, M.A., B.D. was inducted and ordained,his ministry
continuingto the presenttime.
Thus it is that on the threshholdof our Centenarywe in Bainsford
Churchcan look back with thankfulnessto God and look forward with
faith to the future. We arethankful not only for a succession
and devoted ministers of the gospel but also for the multitudes of
ordinary men and women,whosenamescannotbe mentionedhere,but
whose contribution to the causeof Christ in Bainsford has told for
God, in time, and for eternity. With regardto the future, whilethereare
certainlyno groundsfor complacency,may we not take heart from the
fact that the God who hasled us thus far is the sameGod who promised
to Jeremiahin a dayof darkness
"I know the plans I have for you, saysthe Lord, plans for welfare
andnot for evil,to giveyou a futureanda hope."
The future belongsto God. Our faith is in Him and our hoperestson
the Rock of His promiseto all who arefaithful.
"I will build my Churchandthe
gatesof Hell shallnot prevail
againstit. ' '
Printedby InglisPaul Ltd., Middlefield Road, Falkirk.