Titwood Flashback

The people of Pollokshields lost no time in carrying out the necessary preliminaries once they had decided to have their own church. Application was made to the trustees of Nether Pollok for the site at the corner of Shields Road and Albert Street (later Road and now Drive), at that time a steading of around 1,850 square yards in area. The trustees, with Sir William's approval, agreed to feu the site for the erection of a church; the building would be within 200 feet of a proposed church on the "Feuing Plan of the Lands of Pollok Shields" prepared for Sir John Maxwell in 1849 by David Rhind, architect, Edinburgh.

On January 22, 1875, a meeting of Feuars and others interested in having a church in Pollokshields, was convened by the Church Extension Association. The need for a local meeting place was urgent and it was resolved to have a hall built to accommodate about 350 persons. This hall would be used as a place of worship also, until such time as the church proper was erected. The building was to be completed by the end of October, and as was customary, it would be known as a Chapel of Ease until the endowment of the church was assured.

A local committee was appointed to act in conjunction with a small committee from the Church Extension Association, and they immediately set about getting estimates for a hall based on the plan for a church and hall prepared by Robert Baldie, I.A., of 8ath Street. The figures accepted totalled £1,516 of which £1,176 bad been sub­scribed by June 3, 1875.

Inscription above the door of Haggs Castle

The building of the hall, vestry and other offices including a house for the church-officer, was completed within the time limit and the cost was all but covered when the men and women forming the first congregation of this church met at the opening of the hall for public worship on October 10, 1875. Gifts for the building included the window in the west wall, the bell in the bell-cote, the baptismal font and communion vessel.

Admission on the opening Sunday was by ticket. The morning service was conducted by the Rev. John Macleod, B. A., of Govan; in the afternoon the officiating minister was the author of that well-known hymn "O Love that wilt not let me go", the Rev. George Matheson, M. A., B. D., of Innellan, perhaps better known as "The Blind Minister"; and the Rev. Andrew Gray, M. A., of Maxwell Parish took the evening service. The hall was filled to capacity at all three services and the collections amounted to £102. The Rev. Dr. Thomson of New York continued the opening services on the following Sunday.

The first Sacrament of Baptism took place on November 7, 1875, and the first Communion Service, for which 200 tokens were distributed, was held on April 9, 1876, the preceding, Thursday being observed as the Fast-day.

The Rev. Thomas Brown William Niven was inducted to the charge on Tuesday, June 20, 1876, on which occasion the Rev. William Fergus of Blythswood preached and presided. At the end of the service Mr. Niven was presented with Pulpit Robes, Bible and Psalm Book from the ladies of the congregation. In the evening he was guest of honour at a dinner held in the Royal Hotel.

The Introductory Services took place on the following Sunday, June 25, with the Rev. Dr. Robert Jamieson of St. Paul's preaching in the morning and Mr. Niven conducting the afternoon service.

Mr. Niven's first responsibility was to promote the building and endowment of the church. The General Assembly Home Mission Committee confirmed that the maximum building grant would be allowed and The Baird Trust promised to give £2, 000 towards the cost of the building. Estimates to build a church according to Mr. Baldie's plan were agreed at £9, 268 and Orders were given for the work to begin.

On Saturday, May 19, 1877, the memorial stone was laid by Sir William Stirling Maxwell, K.T., M.P., LL.D., D.C.L., Chancellor of the University of Glasgow.

The items in the container within the stone were:

  1. The constitution of the church.
  2. The names of the minister and managers.
  3. The names of the subscribers.
  4. The church's report for 1876.
  5. The Glasgow Church Extension Committee's last report.
  6. A copy of the Baird Trust deed.
  7. The "Missionary Record" for May 1877.
  8. The statistics of Glasgow.
  9. The statistics of Govan parish.
  10. A map of Glasgow.
  11. A Glasgow Newspaper dated May 19, 1877.
  12. Current coins of the realm.

During the ceremonial speeches it was mentioned that the Founders' motto was the same as the one above the main door of Haggs Castle. The translation of that Latin inscription has been a bone of contention to classicists for at least three centuries; the most popular version is "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it." Haggs Castle was to be the principal residence of Sir John Maxwell, 12th Kt. of Pollok and work began on the site in 1585. In January 1587, he wrote to his father- in-law showing his own address as "Haggis". With its walls over five feet thick, this Great Chieftain O' the Puddin-Race may be seen at 100, St. Andrew's Drive. Sir William was presented with a suitably inscribed silver trowel and he donated £250 to the Building & Endowment Fund, a generous gesture much appreciated.

One striking (or would non-striking be more apt?) feature of this period is the speed with which things were accomplished. Without any of our so-called labour-saving devices, mass production or prefabricated units, the hall was built in less than eight months and the church within a year. The work was carried out by craftsmen worthy of their hire and the result of their labour redounds to their credit as we celebrate the centenary of that first service in the hall.

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