Falkirk Erskine Church

Erskine Church in Silver Row(SMR 1677 & 1457)

 NS 8897 7993

NS 8850 7977

TIMELINE

1739    Falkirk Associate Congregation 1820

First Secession Church of Falkirk

Falkirk Burgher Church (1747-1820)

1820    First Utd Falkirk Associate Congregation  1847

1847   East United Presbyterian Church 1866

1866    Erskine United Presbyterian Church  1900

1900    Erskine United Free Church               1929

1929    Erskine Church of Scotland

1737: Erskine movement started in Scotland

1738: Falkirk congregation formed.

1739: The first meeting of elders was held at Lochgreen, then at Woodend, Easter Seamores, Randiford and Falkirk.

1742:  Land acquired from Alexander Johnston in Horsemarket Lane and a meeting house built with 950 seats.   The building was plain and unplastered with an earthen floor.  A loft or gallery was reached by internal stairs.

1786: The roof and side walls were described as ruinous.

1798:  A wooden floor was inserted and an outside covered wooden stairs built to replace the internal ones.

1817: Meeting house remodelled.   It was widened by 12ft, the walls and gables built of a sufficient height to admit a plastered ceiling, and new enlarged galleries.   The ground floor was also raised.  During renovation work meetings were held in the adjoining churchyard with the sacrament being dispensed in the West Church.  Cost c£1,000 and seated 1258.

1820:  Re-united with the anti-burghers as the United Associate Synod of the Secession Church.

1840:  Gas lighting installed, composed of eleven lustres of three branches each.  Roof repaired.

1843: Congregation split to form the Evangelical Union Church.

1845: Heating stove installed.

1847: Union with the Relief church to form the United Presbyterian Church.

1868:  Outside stairs removed and new ones constructed inside.   Seating rearranged.

1878: William Black advised the demolition of the old manse.  This was done and he designed a church hall with vestry, two waiting rooms and an entrance hall.  The iron gate for this was donated by Baillie Mitchell of Grahamston Iron Works.

1900: Union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland.

1903:  New site acquired for a church at the junction of Cockburn Street and Hodge Street.

1905: Old church closed and new one opened.  Foundation stone laid 24th June.Falkirk Erskine Church

The new building was designed by William Black of Messrs A.  & W.  Black, architects, Falkirk.   It is in the Gothic style of architecture of the Perpendicular period, with a square tower at the south-west corner some 90ft tall.   The south gable presents a five light tracery window and twin doors to the street.   The church is cruciform in plan, with nave, aisles, chancel and two shallow transepts.   There are galleries over the end of the nave and each of the transepts.

The original plan had been to build in white stone, but this would have been too expensive and so a creamy sandstone from Eastfield Quarry was used (as it was at the Dobbie Hall, Larbert).   Internally the bases of the pillars are of freestone but the walls and ceiling have been finished with lathe and plaster.  Behind  the  church  and  communicating with it is a hall  to  accommodate  200 people,  a  smaller hall,  vestry,  session room,  ladies room,  waiting  room, kitchen and offices.  Messrs Ramsay Bros carried out the mason work.  The total cost of the building was put at £9248.

1910: The old church was sold for £770 and converted to the Electric Theatre and then to the Roxy.  It was finally demolished in 1960 and the site then contained the Callendar Riggs Shopping Centre.  A stone marked “Erskine Church” is inserted in the wall around the demolished Methodist church in James Street.  A mission continued in the hall adjoining the old church until 1910.

1929: Church of Scotland and United Free Church united.

2012:  Church sold to become the Erskine Community Halls.

2016: The church building rented by the Falkirk Vineyard Church under pastor Andrew McNiach.

MANSE

1760-2: First manse erected at the south end of the church.   It was a plain building, later roughcast, consisting of a ground floor with parlour, kitchen and two bedrooms; a first floor with dining room and two bedrooms and four garrets.

1794: Manse heightened and the roof replaced.

1837: New minister resigned the “power of the manse” due to its condition, and rented Gowan Cottage.  The old manse was then let at just over £8 per half year.

1840: Roof repaired.

1850s-1863: Manse in Hope Street (now the offices of Gair and Gibson).

1863:  New manse finished on 1.5 acres of land feued at Kilns.   Alexander Law donated and installed a set of marble jambs provided that the congregation did likewise.  The manse was built by his son James Law.

1880: Well ran dry so a connection was made to the mains supply.

1896: Manse enlarged.

1928: The original gas lighting replaced by electric.

FITTINGS

1743: four pewter communion cups acquired.

1861: six silver cups and four silver salvers.  Baptismal font.

1876: Communion cards substituted for the tokens.

1879:  Two silver communion salvers presented by William Donaldson.   Shortly after two more cups were donated by John Baird.

1906: Individual glasses introduced for communion.

In 1861 a silver baptismal font was gifted by Janet Belfrage.  A new pulpit was purchased for £65 and the gilded eagle used on it from the old church.  At the same time a communion table was presented by Mrs Donaldson.

ORGAN

1889:  Organ built by Messrs Harrison and Harrison, Durham.   Mr Black, architect, designed a case for it and donated gas brackets.   When the old church closed the organ was bought by the Church of St. Francis Xavier.

1905: Organ erected by Messrs Norman and Beard Ltd, Glasgow.

1930s: Lord Aitchison donated an organ case.

BELL

1905: Bell made by John C. Wilson and Co Ltd.  It is 36ins in diameter, weighs 8.5cwts and cost £83.  It bears the inscription: THE ERSKINE CHURCH,/ FALKIRK, 1905./ JAMES AITCHISON, MINISTER./ A. AND W. BLACK, ARCHITECTS.

WINDOW

See separate entry for stained glass.

WAR MEMORIALS

See separate entries for WW1 Roll of Honour and WW1 War Memorial

SEATING

1742: 950 seats including the loft.

1798: internal stairs removed to increase seating capacity.

1817: Remodelled church sat 1261 in a wider area.

1905: New church designed to sit 392 in the nave and transepts, and a further 353 in the galleries.

CHURCHYARD

Enclosed churchyard acquired with the site of the first church.   This was closed in 1870.  In 1960 the burials were re-interred in the Camelon Cemetery.

MINISTERS OF THE ERSKINE CHURCH

1739

Erskine, Ebenezer (officiated) 1742

Mar 1744

Erskine, Henry Jul 1754

Sep 1758

Belfrage, John Apr 1798

Jun 1794

Belfrage, Henry Jun 1835

Feb 1837

Rutherford, Alexander Cumming 1842

Mar 1844

MacFarlane, Andrew Mar 1859

Nov 1860

Miller, William Apr 1874

Jan 1875

Aitchison, James Nov 1920

Nov 1920

Dean, John Andrew Fowler Oct 1944

Aug 1945

Hay, William Cruickshank Dec 1962

Oct 1963

Reid, David Tindal Apr 1969

Aug 1969

Bruce, Graeme MacLean Sep 1972

Apr 1973

Chaplin, David Oct 1982

1983

Muckart, Graeme W M 1998

1999

Macaulay, G D  

G.B. Bailey (2019)