The History of Galashiels Church of Scotland, formerly Old Parish and St Paul’s Church

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 Policies of the Laird of Gala in Scott Crescent, and plans were drawn up by Mr Hay (of Hay and Henderson in Edinburgh) in 1875.

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 1890 was subsequently added. In 1899 much of the ornamentation on the steeple became dislodged during a gale.

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.

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.

St Paul’s Church replaced 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 Manse was built opposite the Church and the Minister had the right to graze sheep and cows in the graveyard.

Work continued in the Church more recently 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 Scottish 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.

You can read more about the church’s history here (scroll down to the ‘History’ section). And you can find this church on our Architectural Trail and our Town Trail.

Old Parish and St Paul's Church, Galashiels

5a Bank St, Galashiels, TD1 1EN

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