The Queen’s Park United Presbyterians
One of Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s great masterpieces was the Queen’s Park United Presbyterian Church on Langside Road, built in 1868 (though sadly destroyed by incendiary bombing in 1943).
The Queen’s Park U.P. congregation subsequently arranged the construction of another beautiful church, Camphill Church on Balvicar Drive, completed in 1876; although this church subsequently passed to the Church of Scotland, and then to its current occupants, the Baptists.
The U.P. Mission Hall
Not satisfied with two churches, they then constructed the much smaller Nithdale Mission Hall in 1887-8. It was designed by architect Alexander Skirving (c.1849-1919) who worked under Alexander Thomson in the 1860s. Skirving was also known for Langside Hill Free Church (the “Church on the Hill”) and the adjacent Battlefield monument, and Skirving Street in Shawlands is named in his honour.
Sited in the southside immediately to the east of a deep railway cutting, the small polychromatic red and white brick rectangular plan building is fronted by an impressive ashlar classical facade onto Nithsdale Drive to the north. The frontage is substantial with gated piers, original railings and steps leading up to the classical frontage with four simple square tuscan style pilasters flanking the two windows and central doorway. Above a frieze runs the width of this central portion with simple circular motiffs. The triangular tympanum crowns this with a small acanthus at its peak. Behind rise two massive piers to each side and then a further pair before the blond sandstone gives way to the simple red and white brick of the other facades. The towers were reduced in height from those shown on Skirving’s original drawings. The drawings are available in the Mitchell Library, and are reproduced below – click to see the full set.
The United Presbyterians merged with the Free Church of Scotland in 1900 to form the United Free Church. In his history of Strathbungo Parish Church, Rev John Munro describes the rival Nithsdale United Free Church’s “more or less languishing existence” coming to an end in 1910. His church’s only involvement was taking over the former’s local Penny Savings Bank that year. He hints some smaller religious groups used the hall subsequently, and it was apparently used by the Plymouth Brethren in the 1960s.
The building was Grade B listed and came to be owned by Glasgow City Council in its Common Good Fund. The roof collapsed after a fire on 21st July 2005. The interior was cleared leaving just the four walls retained by means of scaffolding. The building became derelict and was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register.
The hall was put up for sale in 2014, and plans submitted by the purchaser to convert it to four dwellings. While some work has taken place on site, the building remains roofless in early 2017. Hopefully it will be restored soon to its former glory, rather than lost forever.