The Story of St John’s
(adapted from St John’s: A Guide for Members and Through Change and Chance)
1834 St John’s is born
1837 St John’s School founded
1843 The Disruption
1900 Pipe organ built
St John’s joins United Free Church of Scotland
1914 St John’s School transferred to new building
Two church halls created
1921 St John’s acquires Manse in Barncluth Road, Hamilton.
1929 St John’s joins Church of Scotland
1934 Fundraising for centenary church hall
1966 Union between St John’s and two other congregations proposed and rejected
1970 St John’s Centre opens
1973 Church restoration and refurbishment
1999 Digital organ installed
2000 Project 2000: St John’s Centre enters a new millennium
2012 A new manse in Ferniegair replaces the old manse.
2012 Church Sanctuary and centre has Major refurbishment.
1834 St John’s is created in the Parish of Hamilton. At that time, the Parish had two ministers. The building in Leechlee Road of today which we now know as The Old Parish Church, was their building.
As the town grew, a group of parishioners committed to forming a second congregation gathered round the second Parish minister, Reverend William Buchan. Money was obtained through subscriptions to erect our building in Duke Street, Hamilton, which opened for worship towards the end of November 1834.
1837 The St John’s School is founded and is located in a new building next to the church. The first Rector of the school was Mr Fullarton Baird who served in this post for 11 years. Reverend William Buchan also taught in the school.
1843 For a while, this second congregation of the Hamilton Parish came under the jurisdiction of the Parish Session. However, as with many congregations all over Scotland who felt strongly against what they saw as a malaise in the established church of their day, and in particular, against the practice of Patronage of Stipends, St John’s left the established church in the Disruption of 1843 and became the Hamilton Free Church, a congregation of the Free Church of Scotland.
1900 The pipe organ is erected in the church. Created by Walcker of Germany, it costs £600.
1900 Union takes place between The Free Church of Scotland, of which St John’s was a member, and the United Presbyterian Church, forming the United Free Church of Scotland.
1914 The St John’s School is transferred to a new St John’s Grammar School building in Hope Street. The school later merged with Hamilton Academy to form Hamilton Grammar School. Today, St John’s provides the chaplain for Hamilton Grammar and St John’s Primary School in Dixon Street.
1914 Two church halls are created in the former St John’s School building next to the church.
1921 St John’s acquires the Manse at Castlehill Crescent (still in use today) to replace Cadzow Villa, which previously served this purpose.
1929 During the century that followed the Disruption, many of the points of dispute were settled. In 1929, St John’s and most of the other churches in the United Free Church of Scotland reunites with the established church to become part of the modern Church of Scotland.
Parish boundaries were extensively redrawn to give each of the numerous Church of Scotland congregations a parish in which to exercise pastoral care and ministry. The St John’s parish covers the area bounded by Quarry Street, Keith Street, the railway line, the Avon river and Strathclyde Park. This parish had been part of the Parish of Cadzow created by the established church in the late 19th century to meet the needs of a growing industrial town.
1934 St John’s starts raising funds for a new church hall to mark the centenary of the church. Building was completed and the new halls opened in 1937.
1966 A union between St John’s and two other Hamilton congregations is proposed. This venture is rejected, however, enabling St John’s to call a new minister. Reverend Dr John Brown was inducted in June 1967.
1970 St John’s Centre By conventional thinking, the church in a depopulated area has outlived its purpose – until you remember that sometimes populations do things other than live in houses: they work in offices and shops, and come to do their shopping by the thousands in a parish like ours! In the late 1960s St John’s saw that although the parish was depopulated in terms of residences, it had become highly populated in terms of commerce, thanks to the town centre redevelopment. So in 1970, the St John’s Centre was opened to be a sort of “shop front” church open during the working week. The Centre has become the distinctive feature of our church and our very special responsibility. Of course, St John’s also continues to exist as a normal church with the activities for worship, fellowship and youth work that are described elsewhere in this web site.
1973 The church is restored and refurbished, involving a new floor, ceiling, pews and central heating.
1999 A digital organ is installed to replace the pipe organ. The original facia of the pipe organ has been retained.
2000 Project 2000: bringing the vision of St John’s Centre into the new millennium.