History

Scottish Charity No: SC010389

 

 

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Old Parish and St. Paul's Church 1938

St Paul's Church was opened for worship in November 1881. It was built because the existing Parish Church (built in 1813 in Church Street was becoming too crowded, and some of the Manufacturers in the Woollen Industry wanted to worship in a grander church. A site of one acre was acquired from the Polices of the Laird of Gala in Scott Crescent, and plans were drawn up by Mr Hay (of Hay and Henderson in Edinburgh) in 1875.

 

 Spire
Work began in the spring of 1878 by the Galashiels firm of Messrs. Hall and Murray and it was finished by J. & J. Hall, also of Galashiels. The steeple of 190` was subsequently added. In 1899 much of the ornamentation on the steeple became dislodged during a gale.

 
Old Parish and St. Paul's Church The Church is early-decorated Gothic, and it cost 13,000 (not including the organ & spire). Most of the money was subscribed and included 1,700 for the Baird Trust, with just 1,500 owing at the opening. The retiring collection at that first Service raised 1,000. Outside, the stonework is of red sandstone, inside, grey sandstone mixed with red sandstone mouldings. There is no lath & plaster - the stones are cleanly chiselled and close set.

Inside there is a nave, 2 aisles & transepts. The length is 83` and the width across the nave 58`. The transepts measure 82` and the breadth of the transepts themselves is 40`.

Interior of ChurchThe height from the floor to the wall plate of the nave is 36` and the height to the apex of the roof is 62`. The roof is open timberwork and the nave is supported on pillars of polished pink Peterhead granite with carved freestone capitals and moulded bases. Double rows of 5 granite pillars divide the nave from the aisle and double rows strike off at right angles to the transept. The pillars are higher than the nave and have bands of polished dark blue granite. They are crowned with Corinthian pillars.

 

Interior of ChurchThe seats are made of pitch pine and the pews have open ends, to accommodate 950 people, allowing each person 18``. The pulpit was originally connected to the Organ screen, but in the refurbishment of the Church in 1948, it was moved to the right and the organ console to the left transept. Beneath the organ pipes is a cabled canopy of oak, the arches of which contain 12 figures of angels bearing antique instruments. The shields of the panels bear the Scottish lion, the Burgh Arms, the Manufacturers Corporation Arms, and that of the Scotts of Gala. The choir stalls have carved stall ends and haffers of poppy heads. Francis Lynn of Galashiels did all the carving.

Mosiac Floor

The aisles are mosaic pavements by Hawley of Edinburgh set at intervals with monograms and hieroglyphics of sacred subjects.

 

Large Widow

There are several stained and coloured glass windows, including a Strachan - in memory of Dr. Lamb, at the beginning of the 20th century, he was a much - loved Assistant Minister. The largest window occupies much of the North Wall - The Good Samaritan - gifted from Miss Arabella Douglas, the youngest child of Dr. Robert Douglas, Minister of the Parish in the early 1800s who set Galashiels Wool Trade on its feet.

 

Organ ConsoleThe Organ is a `Father` Willis, the second organ to be installed in a Galashiels Church, and at the Opening Service, for the first time the Congregation stood to sing and sat to pray. In 1948 when the console was moved to the left transept, the Willis Company rebuilt it. The organ was overhauled once more in 2001.

The Porch and suite of halls was added in the 1920s as a War Memorial to those who died in World War 1. Plaques in the porch commemorate those who died in both World Wars. Much of the money was gifted by the Shultze family of Brunswickhill who lost 2 members of their family in the conflict. Above the porch door there is a carving Le Beau Dieu - an exact copy of that above the door to Amiens Cathedral. During World War 2, the halls were requisitioned by the War Department. It was intended to turn the large hall into a hospital should it be required - fortunately it was not needed.

St Paul's Church was the first Church in Galashiels actually to have replacing the Old Parish Church in Church Street which was closed in 1931 and demolished in 1960. During the time 1881 - 1931, the Old Parish and St Paul's Churches were served by the Parish Minister and his Assistant. Each church had its own Morning Service but the Evening Service was held in St Paul's.

In 1962 the Boys Brigade created a Chapel, using part of the original hall immediately behind the Church. Much of the work was done voluntarily and costs kept to a minimum, thanks to the organisation of the then Captain Mr. Jim Mills.

Old Parish Church Pre-demolitionSt Paul's Church replaces the Old Parish Church which was built in 1813 in turn to replace the previous Parish Church which was built in 1622. That Church stood at right angles to the Scott Aisle in the Old Churchyard at the end of Church Street. It was a typical rectangle with lofts on the upper floor for all the Trades and the Laird. The ordinary people brought stools or benches to sit on. The Church at that time exerted tremendous authority and those who stepped out of line were suitably rebuked from the pulpit. For any scandal they had to stand at `the pillar`, sometimes dressed in sackcloth. There was even a pair of jougs set in the wall outside the door as an ultimate punishment. The Manse was built opposite the Church and the Minister had the right to graze sheep and cows in the graveyard.

Preceding this Church was Boleside - in existence for about 30 - 40 years following Lindean Church which closed shortly after the Reformation, although the graveyard was in use for sometime afterwards.

Seat Rents were used from 1881 - late 1960s. Dear seats were at the back in the centre. Cheaper seats near front. Left Transept was Laird of Gala's workers. Manse pew used to be at back of Right Transept. When the seats were first allocated - those using the seat paid for the cushion!

New WindowWork continues in the Church to the present day with the fitting of a new stained glass window in October 2003. This window was gifted to the Church by the Scottish College of Textiles to celebrate the long link between the old college (now the Borders Campus of Heriot Watt University) and the town of Galashiels. It was designed by the artist Eilidh Keith of Glasgow whose design links themes from the textile trade with Biblical reference. The central portions are the virtuous women of Proverbs 31, celebrating clothing manufacture, and Lydia the seller of purple in Acts, celebrating the dyeing industry.

 

 


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Rev. Jim Wallace - jimwallace121@btinternet.com

Rev. Bruce Lawrie - bruce@brucelawrie.plus.com