St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

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St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby HollowHorn » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:01 pm

Alexander Thomson was born at Balfron in Stirlingshire in 1817.
He spent his working life as an architect in and around Glasgow until his death in 1875. He created some of the most unique secular and ecclesiastical buildings of the Victorian era, blending archetypical Greek styling with Egyptian and other exotic themes to produce buildings which have few equals anywhere when it comes to sheer originality.


Thomson's only surviving intact church. George Thomson was a member of the Gordon Street U.P. congregation, which he persuaded both to sell its church in Gordon Street (formerly Melville Street) built in 1823 to his firm, A.& G. Thomson in 1856 [see Gordon Street], and to appoint his brother and himself as architects of the new church further west to be built with the proceeds. the land was bought from William Henderson, who had bought it from Lord Blythswood.


St Vincent Street Church, to the west of the city centre, was completed in 1859. The constituent parts display different styles, with a typical Thomson Greek temple placed alongside an exotic clock tower which shows more oriental influences. The windows on the four sides of the tower each feature paired sculptured faces looking in on one another.
At the time when the Caledonia Road Church was destroyed by fire in the 1960's, Glasgow Association of Spiritualists were occupying the St Vincent Street Church, keeping it from falling into dereliction. Glasgow City Council acquired the building in December 1970 and carried out repairs and maintenance to keep the church as much as possible in its original state.


The Council rented St Vincent Street Church to a congregation of the Free Church of Scotland in October 1971, who still occupy it. There were proposals in the mid-1980's to terminate the lease to the Free Church and use the building as a tourist attraction in a similar way to Thomson's Holmwood House and Rennie Mackintosh's Scotland Street School. This never happened and the building still fulfils its intended function as a place of worship.
In August 2007 a £1.85million renovation project was announced by the church’s owners Glasgow City Council, Historic Scotland are to provide a £350,000 grant to go
Towards a full restoration of the building. The refurbishment will involve structural consolidation work to the main roof trusses, internal replastering and repairs to the crumbling stonework


The 1881 Memoir of George Thomson records that
"when Dr Beattie's congregation removed from Gordon Street to St Vincent Street, they entrusted to George Thomson the duty of making the plans for the new church. It was really, however, a joint work: while he supplied the general plan and main features, the detail was his brother's; as he admitted himself throughout his brother's disciple, it was easier to secure a harmonious union of each part to the whole. He had the most complete confidence in the ultimate success of his brother's theory of architecture, and belief in its correctness..."
The draft memoir of Thomson by his widow refers to the
“freedom of treatment as compared with former works, the bold manner in which the work is adapted to the site and the peculiarity of the Clerestory of the tower, which latter is to a considerable extent an alteration by his brother
of the original design which had become too expensive for the building committee to carry out."


This photograph from 1859 shows us exactly how Thomson would have wanted to view the church. It demonstrates his idea of a Greek temple standing high up on a mighty podium. This draws its influence from the ancient Acropolis in Athens.
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The Church today:
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby HollowHorn » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:04 pm

Entrance corridor from St. Vincent Lane:
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Assembly Hall (Hokey Cokey on Thursday mornings)
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To Piano accompaniment:

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The design for 1,192 sittings (1,380 according to Aikman) was approved on 2nd February 1857 and the foundation stone laid the following May; the church was opened on 16th February 1859. The stone carving was by J.& G. Mossman; cast-iron work by Weir & McElroy and Robert McConnel & Co., and painting by C.T. Bowie: Gildard recorded that "... for some reason, perhaps, more strictly speaking, no reason, the greater opportunity of decorating the Saint Vincent Street Church was denied to [Thomson]." Macaulay in 1964 described "rose-pink walls... vividly embellished with gold and blue and yellow paint." Daniel Cottier, glazier, worked on finishing the hall below the church in 1867-68, when ornamental lamps were placed outside the Pitt Street entrance (since removed). Clock placed in the tower in 1884.


Looking down and to the right of Altar:
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Rear wall of auditorium from Altar:

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First organ introduced 1892; present organ installed 1904 above existing screen, which was moved forwards by 5 ft 6 inches under direction of Watson & Salmond, architects, for £,1561.


Altar / Organ:
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Altar clock detail:
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Altar lighting detail:
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Pillar detail:
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby HollowHorn » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:07 pm

Thomson designed monuments for the minister who began the church, the Revd A.O. Beattie, and his successor, the Revd G.M. Middleton , in the Glasgow Necropolis, q.v. “For many years the church was one of the wealthiest in the city. Collections of over £200 on a Sunday were frequently taken at one period, and contributions of bank notes became so numerous that special glass covers were put over the collection plates.”


Hallway leading to upper gallery:
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View of auditorium from hallway door:
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Upper gallery:
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Pew doors, upper gallery:
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Light fitting detail:
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby Josef » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:10 pm

Nice, HH. The beauty of the interior can't really be seen in photographs; a visit is highly recommended.

I love the pews.

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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby HollowHorn » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:14 pm

Clock tower Stairway, looking up:
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Looking down:
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Clock face:
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Clock winding mechanism:
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Willie Doak, Corporation Clock Maintenance, winding the clock of the St. Vincent Street Church. (undated)
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Floor above clock tower:
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Last edited by HollowHorn on Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby HollowHorn » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:19 pm

Entrance to floor under Spire:
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Spire entrance from above:

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Spire level detail:

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Looking up:
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Condition of stonework causing concern 1934; congregation dissolved 1939 and building sold to the Glasgow Association of Spiritualists; threatened with demolition and appeal for restoration launched 1957; tower struck by lightning 2nd September 1961; building acquired by Glasgow Corporation by compulsory purchase with government assistance c.1963, repaired, redecorated and altered by Sir Frank Mears & Partners in 1967-69 and let to Free Church congregation formerly in Hope Street Free Church. Transferred to Alexander 'Greek' Thomson Church Trust 1997; put on the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites 1997


Sources:
http://www.greekthomsonchurch.com/

http://wmf.org/resources/sitepages/unit ... hurch.html

http://www.greekthomson.com/

http://glasgowsculpture.com/pg_biograph ... =thomson_a

http://www.scran.ac.uk/dl/ale/al.htm

Visits can be arranged by contacting the present Minister who is on site most days.
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby red_kola » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:47 pm

Wonderful stuff. Frontpage!!!
Destroy All Monsters
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby onyirtodd » Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:05 pm

red_kola's right. Well done.
238 to 127. All in all a good afternoon's work
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby Mori » Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:29 pm

http://www.pagepark.co.uk/

Page & Park have had continious restoration involvement with the church since 1998.
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby Alex Glass » Sat Mar 29, 2008 8:25 pm

Fantastic HH.

Well done with all the work you have put in to this project. The photos are great as well.
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby bilco8 » Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:49 pm

Sterling stuff HH!
Error: Witty comment not found
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby Ronnie » Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:46 pm

Herr 88

Fabulous photos. Thanks. Tiny point: churches in the reformed tradition have communion tables, not altars.

Best, R
upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby HollowHorn » Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:18 pm

Do you know Ronnie, I was never comfortable calling it an Altar, I just could not find a ref to the word I wanted, cheers :wink:
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby govanboay » Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:51 am

great pictures there, great to see inside the tower.

paul.
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Re: St. Vincent Street-Milton Free Church.

Postby Fossil » Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:35 pm

I heard two shite bags never went up the ladder
Bum tit tit bum tit tit play yer hairy banjo
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