Avonbridge Parish Church of Scotland
History of the Church
Church has had many changes in denominational name since it was first built
in 1804. Before there was a
building, there was a congregation.
There had been about 80 seceders in the
parish of Slamannan as well as 70 in Muiravonside and 156 in Torphichen in the late 18th
century and the beginning of the 19th century.
1800 about 59 people in those parishes applied to the Associate Burgher Church to have services in the Avonbridge
district, but the request was not granted at that time.
in 1803, a meeting was held in the house of William Roberts, Bridgehill. A
committee of management was formed with John Hardy, Boagston,
as preses, and William Black, Drumtassie,
as Clerk. It was decided that they
would have their own church in Avonbridge but they had to decide which
denomination to join; either the Associate Burgher Synod or the Synod of
Relief. The history of the origin of
those denominations can be found in any Scottish Church history book.
preferences of the people of the parishes were tested. A majority of 97 favoured the Associate Burgher Synod, and so the
committee of management petitioned that denomination to send someone to
conduct Sunday services. At the same
time it was decided to build a church on the site where the present church
now stands. The first service was
held on 13th March 1803, in a barn belonging to Patrick Gray,
That service was conducted by Reverend John Brown, minister of the
Associate Burgher church, Longridge.
Associate Burgher Presbytery of Stirling and Falkirk agreed to the request
of the Avonbridge people and promised to send preachers to conduct Sunday
services as often as they could.
That acceptance of Avonbridge as a congregation of the Associate Burgher Synod took place
on 5th April 1803. To help the congregation some members of
the Associate Burgher Church in Bathgate were transferred to
Avonbridge. At first the
congregation worshipped in a tent which was made for this use by James
Taylor of Moss-side.
the 4th June 1804 the
congregation asked for permission from the Associate Burgher Presbytery of
Stirling and Falkirk to call a minister of their own. This was agreed and so the congregation
went ahead with a unanimous call to the Reverend John Craig. The first call
was signed by 78 members and 33 adherents.
The new minister was to receive £70 per annum and a manse. The first manse was in Blackston Road, Avonbridge.
this time the church was being built by Charles Shaw of Dalquhairn
and Robert Waddell, Holehouse. The total cost of the first church was
£198. The church was ready when Mr
Craig was ordained and inducted to Avonbridge Church on 6th
November 1804. Although Mr Craig was
plagued by illness, the congregation must have increased because in 1815
galleries were erected which brought the seating capacity of the church up
1820 the church became a
congregation of the United Secession
Church, when most of the Burghers and Anti-Burghers came together to form
the United Secession Church. In 1834
the membership of the church was 128 with 54 members from Muiravonside, 30 from Slamannan
and 44 from Torphichen. The stipend
then was £67, and the church had a debt of £165, which was wiped out in
1845. Before that date the
congregation suffered from some trouble from Falkirk and Bathgate. Many of the members had been drawn away
by the preaching of the Reverend James Morrison who had been brought up in
Bathgate where his father had been the minister of the Old Secession
Church. This led to the formation of
the Evangelical Union Church in Avonbridge in 1844.
1847 the denominational name of
the Avonbridge Church underwent another change when the United Secession
Church and Synod of Relief joined together to form the United Presbyterian Church.
the ministry of Reverend John L Robertson BD, a mission was started at
Crossroads in 1889 which continued for a number of years. A Sunday School was also established
there. In 1889 it was agreed that a new church should be built. On 11th
September 1889 the foundation stone of the new church was laid by J C
Bolton Esq., the Member of Parliament for Stirlingshire. It was built on the site of the first
church and had seating for 200 while the small gallery at the west end of
the church seated 60. At the east
end of the church a hall was built to hold 70 people and under the same
roof was the minister's vestry and other conveniences. The church was opened and dedicated by
the Reverend John Smith, Broughton Place, Edinburgh. At that time there was still a debt of
£160 outstanding. This debt was
cleared off 5 years later after a successful bazaar, opened by the Member
of Parliament, J McKillop Esq.
1889 the congregation became part of the Church of Scotland and on 1
January 1971 was linked with Torphichen Kirk, with the Rev Tom Crichton
then Minister of Torphichen Kirk becoming the first minister of the linked