History of the Church & Parish
When St. David's Knightswood celebrated its 25th anniversary it was a frontier parish in the north-west corner of Glasgow. The ruins of a Druid temple nearby and the remains of Antonine's Roman Wall to the north show it also at the frontier in the struggle between civilisation and paganism in the early Christian centuries. As some of the Roman soldiers were Christians, Knightswood must then have been in the van of Church extension.
From 1227 until the Reformation in 1560 our parish was under the spiritual care of the monks of Paisley Abbey. There is little doubt that the names Knightswood, Temple and Jordanhill were originally lands gifted to the Crusader Orders - the Knights Templar and the Knights of St. John (later called Hospitallars). In pre-Reformation days the Hospitallars had houses in Glasgow which "may have served as almshouses, or leper hospitals, or friaries for the residence of serving brothers working amongst the city poor"; and so names from Scott's "Tales of the Crusaders" were given to some of our streets, e.g. Athelstane Road, Talisman Road, Kestrel Road.
The old maps show our parish divided into two. West of Pikeman Road were the lands of Elderslie. These were open fields flanked by the woods of Jordanhill and Scotstoun House, their bareness only relieved by the Bankhead Plantation, which stretched from Kirkton Crescent to Loanfoot Avenue. They were farmlands belonging to the Stirlings of Windy Edge (Southbrae Drive) and the Coubroughs of Muttonhole (Embo Drive). The lands of Elderslie were owned by the family of Archibald Spiers, the greatest of the "tobacco lords". East of Pikeman Road to Knightscliffe Avenue was old Knightswood. From 1740 to 1896 it was a mining village. The Red Town stood opposite Knightswood Hospital entrance and the miners' rows were at the east end of Baldric and Kestrel Roads. Hermitage Avenue and Warden Road were the sites respectively of Summerlee Iron Works and Knightswood Brick Works. Old Knightswood was part of the lands of Drumry owned by the Crawford family from 1529 to 1887. They bore the title of Earl of Crawford and Lindsay, and later Earl of Glasgow.
The two remaining sections of our parish are the Talbot area and Wykeham area. The former was the property of J.W. Gordon Oswald of Scotstoun Estate. The latter was part of Jordanhill lands owned by another branch of the Crawford family from 1561 to 1750, and later by Dr Archibald Smith, the famous astronomer.
Hugh Macdonald, in his book "Rambles round Glasgow", describes how he visited Knightswood in 1854. What impressed him most as he walked up Knightswood Road was the existence of a large school and that there were "a gey wheen o' scholars in the schule baith on ilka days and Sundays". This was Knightswood's first school. It was built in 1848 and was known as Oswald School, Miss Oswald of Scotstoun being the proprietrix, and beside it in 1854 was erected a church. The credit for building the first school and the first church in Knightswood goes to the Free Church of Scotland - in particular to the Rev. Dr. Duncan Macfarlane and his Kirk Session of Renfrew Free Church - as part of the Dr. Chalmers-inspired Free Church extension policy. That church, removed to Woodend Drive, is now Jordanhill Parish Church.
When the great rehousing movement began in 1920 Glasgow pushed its 1912 boundaries forward from Pikeman Road to Yoker Burn, buying up the Elderslie Estate as far as Garscadden. By 1929 the estimated population of upper and lower Knightswood was about 30,000 and in October of that year there occurred an event which was of vital significance for the new housing communities springing up - the union of the two great churches, the United Free and the Church of Scotland. On learning that three and a half million of Scotland's five million population were to be rehoused, the Rev. Dr. John White, the first moderator of the United Church, began, as Dr. Chalmers had done in 1843, a great crusade to follow the people and set up a church in the midst of every large housing area. Knightswood West was one of the very first to receive his attention. Within eight weeks of the union Dr. White opened our church halls on 7th December 1929.
Now we are no longer on the frontier of Glasgow, since the building of the huge Drumchapel complex. The parish area has changed considerably also. Where there were approximately 50 "prefab" houses there are now 700 houses in six multi-story blocks in Lincoln Avenue and Kestrel Road, and four-apartment semi-detached houses in Archerhill Road. In Kirkton Avenue there are five multi-storey blocks of 690 houses, and new permanent houses have replaced the "prefabs" at Clarion Road, Dyke Road and Glanderston Drive. This has greatly increased the number of people living in our parish and a new library, and a supermarket complex has been built at Anniesland Road. All this has made our parish a busier and bustling place in which to live.
And at the centre of this vast community stands St. David's Parish Church, a sanctuary where thousands of people have met with God and have gone forth to their daily round girded with strength.
On Sunday, 8th December, 1929, the Morning Service was conducted by the Rev. Principal W. M. Clow, D.D., Trinity College, Glasgow, and the Evening Service by the Rev. W. L. Fordyce, M.A., who had been appointed Minister of the Charge. The services were helpful and inspiring and were well attended. The Large Hall was used by the congregation for worship for about ten years. The estimated cost of the suite of halls, which were gifted to the congregation by the Presbytery of Glasgow, was £6,500.
The Presbytery of Glasgow, in 1934, resolved to include St. David's, Knightswood, in the number of Church buildings to be erected within the Presbytery under the National Church Extension Scheme.
In April, 1936, it was reported to the Session that the congregation of St. David's-in-the-West, Cromwell Street, Glasgow, was to be dissolved and that the congregation within the Presbytery adopting the name of St. David's would receive the movable property including the Communion Table, Silver Communion Cups, Pipe Organ, etc.,
along with the "Stewart Bequest," which was a sum of £1,000 bequeathed to the congregation, the interest on which was to be credited annually to the congregation on behalf of the Maintenance of the Ministry Committee Fund. The Session decided to examine this offer. After doing so it was agreed, with the concurrence of the congregation, to approach the appropriate authority with regard to it.
In June, 1936, the Secretary of the Home Board intimated that the application of Knightswood West Church had been approved, that the movable property and the "Stewart Bequest" would be transmitted to the congregation and that in future Knightswood West Church would adopt as its name "St. David's, Knightswood".
In May 1938, the first sod was cut for the commencement of the building of the Church and the Memorial Stone was laid in September 1938. In the cavity of the memorial stone is a casket containing a brief history of the Church and other articles.
The building which was designed on modern lines is cruciform in plan, with nave, centre aisle, side aisles, transepts and chancel. It is constructed of brick with concrete arches. The building cost approximately £8,768. The quota towards the cost, for which the congregation was responsible, was £1,753, the difference in the cost being met by the National Church Extension Committee.
The service of dedication of the Church was conducted by the Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery on 21st October, 1939.