A Brief History of St David's, Knightswood
(Formerly Knightswood West)
The following brief history was written by Mr. David Inglis (St David's current Organist) and delivered by him at a Prayer Breakfast held on Saturday 9th January 1999 to mark the beginning of our 70th Anniversary Celebrations. To read the full book please click on the PDF file.
The opening Service of Dedication
(7th December 1929)
Handbills and posters were distributed by Boys' Brigade members from Whiteinch Gordon Park Church informing local people of the opening of Knightswood West Church (the present name St David's would not be adopted for a further 6 years) A direction board was placed at the corner of Loanfoot and Lincoln Avenues. The church halls were built first in 1929 and would serve as the church for a further 10 years until the sanctuary was completed.
At The Prayer Breakfast before 4pm, the audience, some of whom were soon to become members of the new congregation, took their places in anticipation of the entry of the visiting clergy and members of the Presbytery of Glasgow. (The public were asked to enter by the West door to allow the platform party to enter by the East door) Presiding was the Rev Andrew M Gentles of St Stephen's West Church, who was acting as Interim Moderator. For the first 7 months of the life of the new church the most important person to climb the steps onto the platform of the large hall was the Right Rev Dr John White of the Barony Church, and moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
DR White had also been moderator in 1925 and had opened the halls of St Margarets Church in that year. 'High Knightswood' had been built earlier than our own area and had been opened by the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin. 'Lower Knightswood' was built between 1926 and 1931. As moderator of the General Assembly in 1929, DR White pledged that a new church would be built in the midst of every large housing area in Scotland. This was no mean feat. Many new churches were to be built under the National Church Extension Scheme. Knightswood West was a gift to the community from the Presbytery under this arrangement.
Other ministers took part in that service. Leading the prayer of Intercession was our own first minister Rev William Fordyce. Mr Fordyce had been released from his charge at Copland Road, Govan to become the first minister of Knightswood West. He had previously been minister in Dundee and in Western Australia. It was he who was to build up the congregation from zero in December 1929 to over 900 by December 1934. Mr Fordyce was not allowed to be Moderator of the Kirk Session until after his Induction in June 1930, after which the first Kirk Session and first Congregational Board were elected following the conferring of a fixed charge on the congregation by the Presbytery.
At The Prayer Breakfast
Our Prayer Breakfast Speaker for these early months all the affairs of our church were handled by the Rev Gentles (who presided over that Dedicatory Service) and a team of Interim elders and office bearers from local churches acting as a Provisional Kirk Session and Deacon's Court. They met at Mr Gentle's home at 8 Wykeham Road for meetings held prior to the opening of the church. Mr Reid acted as treasurer, Mr Murray as Session Clerk and Mr Jackson as Clerk to the Court and who had agreed to play the organ. Two of the provisional Session, Messrs McArthur and Stenhouse became members of the permanent Kirk Session. During that time Mr Gentles and his team of 9 were responsible for the opening services, the arrangements for communion and Christmas/Easter services as well as practical matters such as finding an organ, chairs, hymn books, a pulpit, Communion Outfit etc. etc. They also helped to make arrangements for setting up a Sabbath School and church choir as well as BB, Guides, Band of Hope and Christian Endeavour. It is appropriate to remember these early Founders of 1929 as well as to pay tribute to our own founding members of June 1930 - men like John Stivens, and William Neil Moir who was to be Session Clerk for 21 years.
The Dedicatory Service on Saturday 7th December began at 4pm with singing of Psalm 100. Other hymns included 'We love the place O God' and 'Here when thy people seek thy face'. DR White gave the sermon and dedicated the church to the Glory of God. At the close of worship, tea was served in the small hall and an opportunity was given for folk to inspect the premises. On the following day, Sunday 8th, the morning worship was conducted by the Rev (Ex Principal) William Clow of Trinity College, and the evening service by Rev WL Fordyce.
At The Prayer Breakfast
Mr Fordyce is remembered by the stained glass memorial windows in the chancel unveiled by his widow at a special Dedicatory Service on 20th May 1957.
It would be interesting to make a brief mention of another congregation at this point. While Knightswood West was growing and prospering in the first half of the 1930's (membership at the end of 1935 was 964) another less than 3 miles away was losing members and experiencing financial difficulties. This was St David's-in-the-West in Cromwell Street, St George's Cross. By the beginning of 1936 the congregational roll showed less than 300 members and a consequent loss of income. This was sad because St David's-in-the-West had a history going back to 1720 in the Ramshorn Kirk in Ingram Street in the centre of the Merchant City. It had a distinguished line of ministers starting with the Rev John Anderson in the original building. DR David Welsh was Moderator of the General Assembly prior to the famous Disruption of 1843. He had been a St David's minister before the building of the present Ramshorn Church building, now a Drama Centre owned by Strathclyde University. (John Anderson's grandson was founder of the University).
At the Disruption, the church split. The minister of the time, John Lorimer (uncle of William Lorimer who translated the New Testament into Scots) and most of his congregation left the Ramshorn to be the first minister and congregation of Free St David's. After a number of changes of premises (mainly North Frederick Street and West Regent Street) a new building was erected in Cromwell Street. In 1900 the church became known as St David's United Free and in 1929, following a Union with the Church of Scotland, as St David's-in-the-West. Meanwhile, St David's Ramshorn continued from the Disruption until 1983.
At The Prayer Breakfast
Prior to the closure of St David's-in-the-West in May 1936, the Office Bearers made a plea that the name, history and tradition of St David's-in-the-West be preserved within the Church of Scotland possibly within one of the new housing areas. Knightswood West received a letter from the Presbytery in April 1936 offering the name of St David's together with the (relatively new) pipe organ, Communion Table, Baptismal Font, Communion Ware, pewter collection trays, a Bequest and a box of minute books dating from 1843. The Kirk Session and Congregation were pleased to accept the offer from St David's in Cromwell Street.