The First Decade (1906-1916)

The story of St. Paul’s Parish Church did not begin with the present building. For sixty-six years before the erection of the present church building, the congregation of Milngavie Parish Church (as it was known in those days) existed, and had a church building (The Auld Kirk).  By 1904 the congregation was over 700 and needed a larger place of worship.

 1906 - The Beginning

Old Milngavie

Old Milngavie

The 'Auld Kirk' - Milngavie Parish Church

The opinion of the congregation was divided. Some wished to extend the existing building, while others, the minister, Rev. John Edgar among them, did not regard this to be adequate; they wanted to build a new church. The opposition was passionate and a number of the office bearers resigned in protest as the plan for a new building went ahead. At the end the congregational meeting voted in favour of the new building 131 versus 55. The site was provided by Mr. T. Ripley Ker of Dougalston at the foot of Garwhitter Brae in the New-town.

T Ripley Ker who donated the site Corner of Strathblane Rd. & Baldernock Rd.
Site for the new church, donated by Mr. T. Ripley Ker

The new church (1)

After the decision to build the new church was taken, an architectural competition was arranged. The plan submitted by Messrs. Leadbetter & Fairley of Edinburgh was chosen. The Duchess of Montrose laid the Memorial Stone on Saturday, 20th May, 1905.

 Winning Plan for the new church  Memorial Stone, laid by Duchess of Montrose, 20th May 1905 

The church was dedicated on Friday 12th January 1906, the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Right Reverend Andrew J. Milne, LL.D. offering the 'hallowing prayer'. The Presbytery held a meeting thereafter and declared the new building as the church of the parish.

The Sanctuary 1906  Seating Plan 1906 

account for the construction of church


£ s d


£ s d


Balance from Bazaar A/C
as per statement


Mason work


Subscriptions & Donations etc.


Joiner work


Subscriptions since book closed


Plaster work

85- 6- 2

Interest on Corporation Loan and Bazaar A/C


Slater & Plumber


Grant from Baird Trust (promised)



83- 4- 9

Grant from Ferguson Bequest (promised)

( 200-0-0)


93- 4 -9

Grant from Home Mission (promised)

( 428-10-0)


148-12- 5

Balance due Treasurer


Heating and Gas

382-17 -3


Gates and Railing

117 -4 -7


Architect’s Fee

300 -0 -0


Measurer’s Fee

70 -0 -0


Inspector’s Fee




111 -4 -5






Glasgow Rd. & Garwhitter Brae ca. 1906  The Church in 1906

The People - Rev. John Edgar(1)

(Minister of Milngavie Parish Church 1898-1925)

Rev. J. Edgar was a very enthusiastic minister and conscientious pastor. He had a fine devotional sense. He conducted well structured, orderly and seemly services; and took every opportunity to further the cause of the Gospel, holding Christmas Day and Easter services, and observing other major festivals of the Church in a period when this was quite unusual.

Rev. John Edgar, minister 1898 - 1925

By forming the Sabbath School Society he pursued to improve the efficiency of the Sunday School. He gave every encouragement to the Boys’ Brigade Company (1st Milngavie). The Woman’s Guild was established (1900) in the congregation by his initiative. In 1912 he instigated the installation of a good organ. But his greatest undertaking was the building of the new church. His patriotic zeal is evident from his keen desire to serve as a “fighting padre” in the First World War.

Rev. John Edgar's signature Early Order of Service

The new Church(2) - The Pulpit

The fine oak pulpit
The fine oak Pulpit was the gift of the Woman's Guild and is in a prominent and convenient position, standing out from the western depiction of St. Matthew on the pulpitarm of the chancel arch. Together with the Communion Table, which is situated centrally in the shallow apse, it symbolises the emphasis in the Church of Scotland placed on the Word and Sacrament. On four corners, there are symbols representing the writers of the four gospels.


traditional symbol representing St. Mark traditional symbol representing St. Luke traditional symbol reptresenting St. John

The Sabbath School(1)

Minutes of 'Annual Social Business Meeting od S.S.Sabbath School Minutes 1908

The Annual Social Business Meeting of the Teachers was held in Mr. Higgins' house on 23rd Dec. 1908. After the business was transacted we were entertained to tea by the kindness of Mr. Higgins and his daughters. There was a large attendance of teachers and the Minister was also present. The first part of the business was the disbursement of the £7 -10/- which had been collected during the year at the Sabbath School and which was disbursed as follows: The Black Boy £4-10-; East Park Home -10-; Sick Children's Hospital -10-; Fresh Air Fortnight -10-; Prevention of Cruelty to Children -10-; Herbert St. Home -10-; St. Andrew's Colonial Homes -10-; £7-10-0 Unanimously agreed to. The "General Fund" was then dealt with. The amount of which was £5-2-3. It was moved and carried that we give £1- from this fund towards the payment of the new piano which has been placed in the Parish Hall, of which we have the use of for Sabbath School. Then the treasurer read over the other items of expenditure which were passed as in order. The next part was the rehearsal of the motion "that teachers would arrange for a substitute to take their class anytime they intended being absent." Mr. Higgins mentioned that he thought that was being done. The Superintendent reported the average attendance as having been, for the year, between 170 & 180 per Sunday. This, he said was very satisfactory. He was pleased to see the School in such a flourishing condition as it was just now financially and otherwise. Then followed a discussion on Successful Teaching and various suggestions were made. Emphasis being put on the necessity of teachers coming early to School, say 5 or 10 minutes before 3 o'clock. The question of Home Lessons was raised, and it was agreed that no hard and fast rule be made re. Home Lessons and that they be according to what was necessary. The next point was the examination. It was arranged that the examination would only be on 3 months' lessons (the teachers to be informed later as to what particular 3 months it would be). It was also decided that the exam would not be compulsory and the hope was expressed that at the same time it would be entered into of all or most of the scholars. After this there was a discussion as to the giving of prizes for the examination, but it was put aside as not being desirable. Mr. James Hunter was then asked to become Secretary and to report the meeting and to hand to the various Institutions the sums allotted to them and which he accordingly agreed to do. Thus ended the business part of the meeting, after which followed the social part which was thoroughly enjoyed by all present. The meeting finished by Mr Al. Gardner on behalf of the teachers thanking Mr. Higgins our worthy Superintendent and his daughters for their kindness in giving us such a pleasant evening. James M. Hunter


Milngavie Church Communion Token ? still in use in 1906Milngavie Church Communion Token ? still in use in 1906
Communion Token

Note date. Inscription: Milngavie Church, 1840: Communion Token; This do in remembrance of Me; 1st Cor. XI 24
Used as an 'authorisation' to take Communion, now replaced by Communion Cards. Possibly still in use in 1906. - more info

The Communion Cups from 1906
Communion Cups (January 1906)

Gifts of Rev. John Edgar and his wife (four cups) and Mr. William Chesters and his wife (two cups) Inscription: This do in remembrance of Me. To the Glory of God
These cups were the only cups in use - until April 1954, when individual cups were introduced. For those who wished to continue to have the 'Common Cup', two of these cups continued to be used and are still in use for Communion at St. Paul's.

The new Church(3) - the Organ

The organ 'It was 1912 before the total cost of the church (£7,500) was met, and this despite the most strenuous efforts of a wilting congregation, but at once the minister began to take steps to enrich the praise of the sanctuary by having a good organ installed. A bazaar to raise money for this and other purposes was held in the St. Andrew's Halls, Glasgow, on three days in December, 1912. the target set being £1,750. Two years later, in December, 1914, a fine two-manual organ by Binns of Leeds was dedicated by the Rev. Professor Cooper, and an inauguration recital given by Mr. Herbert Walton, organist of Glasgow Cathedral.' (Extract from 'Milngavie - Town and Church')

The Sabbath School(2)

Excerpts from the Sabbath School Minutes

28 December 1909: … It was then proposed that the teachers should try as much as possible to keep in touch with boys leaving school and to give names to Mr Chesters to keep in a Register for reference. It was also proposed and carried that teachers should visit their scholars at their homes and thereby get to know the parents and let them know about the School.

13th January 1911: … Mr Edgar proposed that we should send £1- to the Ky-Kuyu Mission (Kikuyu Mission, Kenya) where our late Secretary and esteemed friend Mr. Allan is stationed.

June 1911: The Annual Sabbath School Excursion was held on Saturday 24th June, the destination this year being Mains where a park was kindly granted by Mr. Douglas. But unfortunately the weather broke down; there being a poor turnout of parents and children.

The People - A. Allan

Mr. A. Y. Allan Mr. Alexander Allan
(Sabbath School Teacher & Secretary)

Mr Alexander Allan was a leader in the Parish Church Sabbath School at the turn of the century. Kikuyu Mission StaffHe taught the older boys, and also became the Sabbath School's Secretary for a time, as well as being an officer in the Boys' Brigade. Mr Allan went out to Africa as a missionary (KiKuyu Mission, Kenya) about the year 1908. He married Miss Grace Ferguson, a choir member, whose father was employed on the Mains estate. For more than two decades the Sabbath School supported them on the mission field. He liked outdoor life and had a nursery near Cairn's Church. He was a very fine and gentlemanly person and was liked by everyone. At the time of his departure he was Superintendent of Craigton Sunday School.
(Information supplied by Mr Andrew Kay)

The People - Wm. McArthur

Mr. William McArthurMr. Wm. McArthur
(Beadle of Milngavie Parish Church)

Mr. McArthur was a long and faithful member of the Parish Church. For many years he was the beadle, and carried out his duties - which included ringing the town curfew bell morning and evening, - for over two decades, without missing a single service. His salary amounted to £15 per annum. On his death the following tribute was published in the Parish Supplement (1907): "In the person of Mr. William McArthur there passed away on the 30th March the oldest parishioner. Almost a century old, Mr. McArthur retained his faculties to the last. As a young man he went out and in among the workmen at the building of the old church. At a later period he acted for some time as a manager of the church. Thirty years ago he was appointed beadle, and during the twenty-six years he held that office he maintained the best traditions of that old Scottish personage, the parish beadle. A stern reprover of moral obliquity, and a staunch teetotaller, William had all the dignity and all the pawky humour of the beadle of olden times. He retired when the pulpit Bible was too heavy for him, but he loved to slip into church of an evening, just as he, when the evening of his days was far spent, slipped into the eternal church above."

Memorabilia - The Parish Supplement

Parish SupplementsThe Milngavie Parish Supplement was the occasional magazine of Milngavie Parish Church. The main aim of the very orderly presented, high quality, usually one sheet magazine was to give people news about the church and her busy life. Here we have three copies on display from 1910, 1912, and 1914. They offer us a fascinating insight into the church life of our predecessors.


Church & Press

The Parish Church and the Press

The local press followed the Parish Church's life with great interest. It regularly offered detailed accounts of the church events. The proposed building of a New Parish Church was of great importance for the community, and the local press (Milngavie and Bearsden Herald) dutifully covered the stages of the congregational planning and meetings. Those who missed the fundraising Art and Craft Exhibition at the Burgh Hall or the three day long Bazaar at the McLelland Galleries in Glasgow (!) at least were informed of all they had missed. The articles about the dedication services of the new church building and the organ occupied prime positions and many columns in the paper. Even the full dedication sermons were reprinted! Readers were informed of the choir's joyful outing aboard the 'Lord of the Isles' to Tighnabruaich (a most fascinating and entertaining read). The first wedding in the New Parish Church was great news and the full details, including guest and gift list (!) were faithfully printed. (The excitement is understandable if we consider that most weddings in those days were conducted at the manse.) The minister's various public engagements were also closely followed by the press' eyes and pens.

The People - The Watts & Miss Knox

Watts & Miss KnoxThis old photograph shows Mrs. Watt with children Agnes & Grace, together with Miss Knox. It is likely that they were members of Milngavie Parish Church - certainly it appears that Agnes & Grace feature in a much later photograph (celebrating a church anniversary).(If you are in possession of any further information, the webmaster would be delighted to hear from you!)

The People - Mr. John Cranmer

John CranmerMr. John Cranmer was Session Clerk from 1873 until 1906 - a period of 33 years!