Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Friday, 14 June 2013

21 May 2013 - "History of St John's Church"

On the 21st of May several of our members travelled to Girvan to the McKechnie Institute and enjoyed a very informative and interesting talk by Professor Ian M. Arbon about the history of St John’s Church.

Professor Arbon commenced his talk by giving us a brief resume of the origins of the Episcopal Church from the early 1500’s to present day. Due to the peal laws being set up the church became almost an underground movement and by 1800 only a handful were left in Ayrshire. By 1870 of the congregation were in lowly circumstances being Irish immigrants who were mainly handloom weavers.

By 1901, when many weavers moved to the central belt looking for work, membership halved at St Johns. In 1910 Rev Burton wanted to extend the church and attract a better clientèle but, due to lack of money, the extension was never fully completed and left the building with an almost squat appearance. Transepts were intended but arches had to be filled in. 

By the 1920’s the church was following the Oxford movement becoming more High Church. As the congregation became more elderly and disinterested in major building works, dry rot took hold in the roof and tower and eventually the building was condemned. The final service which took place there was in October 2008.

The roof finally collapsed and the bell tower fell down in 2011 when it was struck by lightning. The church was cleared of all its artefacts and the pulpit now resides in the Holy Trinity Church in Paisley and the War Memorial was given to the Mckechnie Institute as a lasting memento for the people of Girvan. The actual building now free of rot was put up for auction twice but sadly there were no offers and it was finally demolished in 2012.

Susan Christie

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