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THE HISTORY OF ST LUKE’S & ST ANDREW’S CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
Bain Square, Calton
The history of St. Luke’s & St. Andrews Church Of Scotland is truly a storied and tumultuous one which dates all the way back to the 19th Century. Located in Calton’s Bain Square at the very heart of Glasgow’s East End and a stone’s throw from the city’s legendary Barras, it was commissioned via the extension plans of former Church of Scotland leader Thomas Chalmers. Designed by Glasgow’s own James Wylson and erected in 1836/1837, its construction came to fruition thanks to extensive missionary work in the surrounding community and was initially used as a “chapel of ease” for the residents of the nearby Barony parish.
For those unfamiliar with this term, it meant that St. Luke’s was originally intended as a building other than the official parish church to assist those who couldn’t conveniently make their way to its larger counterpart. It made life easy for many and was particularly beneficial to those in western Calton thanks to its very central location in what was its main street.
Created in accordance with the stipulations of the General Assembly and the 1834 Chapels Act, the church was given the status of ‘quoad sacra’; meaning that it held no local government functions. Whilst this remained the case for almost 10 years, a confrontation regarding the congregational rights of not only St. Luke’s but churches of the same ilk led to a great deal of patrons aligning themselves with the newly minted Free Church Of Scotland. This move didn’t prevent those who’d removed themselves from the ranks of the more traditional organisation from using the building however, as they continued to so until February of 1849 at which time they were forced to abstain from using the building due to a House Of Lords’ decision which proclaimed that property rights would be held by The Church Of Scotland.
Without a place of worship, the members of the Free Church took to various different venues before landing on The Mechanics Hall in Canning Street as they awaited a new church. Their new religious institution finally came in the shape of St. Luke’s Free, located at the junction between London Road and Risk Street. Eventually, their sanctuary became known as St. Luke’s United Free Church Of Scotland which is a moniker which stood until it eventually closed its doors. Amusingly, the new church attained an aspect of the original church due to the donor of St Luke’s clocks requesting they be removed following the House Of Lords’ verdict before they eventually returned in the new incarnation.
Disbanding its ties with the parish of the Barony as a whole in 1849 and instead being repurposed as a Chapel Of Ease to Tobago Street’s newly established Calton Parish Church, it took up until 1863 for St Luke’s to finally branch out on its own and become the fully fledged St. Lukes Parish Church.
Whilst there was a lengthy period of respite from the unsettling years that the church endured, tragedy struck in 1924 when a fire tore through the once pristine and ornate house of worship and left it in ruins.
In the wake of the fire, a great deal of restoration took place, rendering the church safe for use once again but unfortunately resulting in the loss of its clock tower due to its inability to be salvaged.
1961 saw the church’s congregation increase tenfold due to a union with the Macmillan Calton Church, causing in another change in its title to Calton New, whereas ‘Calton Old’ was deemed to tbe the premises that remained in Helenvale Street.
Operating under the same moniker following new affiliations with the congregations of St. John’s Chalmers and Greenhead Barrowfield in 1963 and 1971 respectively, this meant that Calton New eventually became a hybrid of 9 distinct congregations which had all stood independently in 1929 but were conjoined due to the population of the surrounding areas decreasing drastically. Aligning with one of the Burgh Churches; St Andrew’s, in 1976, the move saw a minister split his time between both flocks before they were finally consolidated in 1992. This merger led to the church finally adopting the name by which it is now most commonly known ; that of St. Luke’s & St Andrews.
A decline in attendance saw many efforts to remodel the church’s interior but they were to no avail and eventually St. Luke’s & St. Andrew’s lay deserted.
With such an imposing and once beautiful structure laying barren, one of the fair city of Glasgow’s oldest church’s was eventually purchased by Michael and Tony Woods in 2013.
Restoring the landmark to its former glory albeit with slight alterations being made to befit its new use, St. Luke’s is once again preparing to bring joy to the citizens of the east end and beyond as a multipurpose music venue, bar & kitchen; serving to revitalise the community while maintaining many of its stunningly rendered original features.