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Renfrew - The Royal Burgh



Churches in Renfrew

Trinity Church

Paisley Road



The Trinity Church began life as the United Presbyterian Church in Renfrew in July 1862. The services were held in the Town Hall until the first church was built in 1865.{The memorial stone was laid by Sir Peter Coats of Paisley on 27th October 1864}and the church opened for worship in July 1865]. The first stipend of the minister was 180 per year. In 1897 it was decided to build a hall in Moorpark which is now the Rutherford Memorial Church

Towards the end of the 19th century, it had become apparent to the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church that a union would be beneficial to both, especially since there was so little to divide them. Consequently there followed meetings between representatives of the two churches culminating in a union in 1900 under the name of the United Free Church of Scotland. As a result, there were now two United Free Churches in Renfrew and so, on the 7th September 1900, the Session agreed to recommend to the congregation the name of "Trinity" for the U.P. Kirk. The recommendation was adopted and the Renfrew U.P. Church became Trinity United Free Church and, at the same time, the former Free Church became the North United Free Church.

On the 3rd November 1925 the Session had its first discussion on the question of a union between the United Free Church of Scotland and the Church of Scotland. Consultations had been going on for some time and certain questions relating to the union had been sent down by the General Assembly to Kirk Sessions and congregations for their consideration.

There followed a special meeting of the congregation on 1st December at which the Reverend J. Maxwell Blair from Paisley gave a resume of the position that had been reached by the representatives of the two Churches. There was a strong minority group within the United Free Church, ably and forcefully led by the Reverend James Barr BD, and that minority group had followers within Renfrew Trinity Church. However, after a full and free discussion, the congregation decided by a majority that "barriers to union had been removed". The first step towards union had been taken.

On 4th May 1926 Miss Craig, the Captain of the Girl Guide Company, was given permission to form a Brownie Pack to cater for girls younger than the age of entry into the Guides. The pack was formed in September and was under the leadership of Miss Gladys Skeoch. In December, Mr A.M. Ferguson was granted permission by the Session to form a Cub Pack for boys under Scout age and during the same year he also formed a Rover Scout Troop to cater for boys who had passed Scout age. This was a busy time for the Scouts for that year also saw the beginning of the Scout Pipe Band. A committee of parents gifted to the group three sets of bagpipes while a fourth set was presented by Mr Alexander Mitchell's Junior Choir. Two side drums, a bass drum and a silver cup for patrol competitions were presented by Mr William Tod, Mr Archibald Ferguson (the Scoutmaster's father) and Mr Robert Elliott respectively. It is not surprising that at this time there was another reference in the minutes to the need for more hall accommodation but the matter was taken no further at this point.

In 1921, a troop of Boy Scouts was formed with Mr A.M. Ferguson as Scoutmaster and Mr James S. Ritchie and Mr Alex McCracken as Assistant Scoutmasters. They met for the first time in September 1921. The first Patrol Leaders were Mr William Calderwood and Mr John Gray and there were 25 boys on the roll. The troop's colours were presented to the Scouts by the elders and managers and dedicated at a church parade on Sunday 17th June 1923, the day on which the Reverend Robert B. Hastie took his farewell of Trinity Church.

I am indebted to Mr. William  Humphrey   Webmaster, Trinity Church for this material


North Church

Renfield Street

My thanks to Dorothy McGregor for this photograph.

Dorothy's excellent website is well worth a visit  -  My Renfrew


The North Church was built in 1843 as a new 'Free Kirk' and cost 900, the tower being added two years later at a further cost of 160. The first Minister came from Glasgow, Rev. Dr. Duncan Macfarlan while the deacons appointed were from both Renfrew and Yoker as were the congregation. People from Yoker were granted free passage on the Renfrew Ferry to attend church on Sunday, and this continued until 1922.


The Parish Church

High Street

[Published courtesy of Renfrewshire Council  Education and Leisure Services]


The earliest record of a church in Renfrew is in a Papal Bull of 1186. King David I had granted a church but this church was now allied to Glasgow Cathedral rather than Paisley. There was a church, dedicated to Saint James, built by the Steward Walter near his castle. Paisley Abbey, also built by Walter, had its beginnings as a religious foundation in Renfrew. Thirteen monks lived there, the chapel dedicated to Mary the Virgin and the present day Parish church stands on the same site as this early chapel. Prior to the Reformation, the church occupying this land had nine altars, each served by its  own chaplain and its Session House was used on weekdays as a school. There were no pews. At the Reformation the chapels and altars were sacked by the mob. The church continued as a Protestant church and the present church was opened for worship in 1862. Alterations were made in 1908 and in 1910 a pipe organ was added. Mr. William Robertson a shipowner, donated a stained glass window in memory of his former headmaster at Blythswood School,  Dr.McLaren and several other donations of stained glass were given. The Ross Memorial is in the church.


McDonald's Memorial Mission

Fulbar Street

[No picture available]


Founded by Mr. James McDonald the Mission was at first called the Bethel Mission. This remarkable gentleman lived at 3, Houston Terrace and had been first  a grain merchant then working for a grocer in Argyll Street Glasgow. He opened a cafe in the Gorbals district. In 1882 he began preaching on the steps on Renfrew Town Hall and later in the old Burgh school off the High Street. From there he moved to a stable loft in Hairst Street establishing the Hairst Street Mission Hall. During this time he worked for a tinned food company and served as a councillor from 1890-92. Local people helped him provide funds for a new hall and in 1907 the hall in Fulbar Street was built. In this Bethel Mission he provided hot meals for the poor and clogs for  barefoot children. He died in 1909 and is buried in Arkleston Cemetery. In 1910 there was an appeal for instruments and uniforms for a brass band and these were generously provided. The band played at public events for many years and when the annual outings took place, such as Steamer trips, the band paraded round the Burgh at eight o'clock to wake the people for the trip that left at nine thirty. 1967 saw the demise if the band. 


The Salvation Army

Fulbar Street, formerly High Street

[No picture available]

Beginning in Renfrew in a hayloft in Hairst Street in 1897 the Salvation Army opened the hall in the High Street in 1922. There was a thriving brass band which played until after the war. Nowadays the Army is based in Fulbar Street where they provide food for the elderly every day.


Saint Margaret's C of E Church

Paisley Road/Oxford Road

[No picture available]

The services began in Manse Street in 1877. Lady Blythswood gave a harmonium and an annual donation of 20 . Later Lord Blythswood provided premises in Fulbar Street and this was used every Sunday until 1914.  In 1912 funds were collected to build a new church, Lady Blythswood contributing greatly as she wanted this to be  a memorial to her late husband. The new church was consecrated by the Bishop of Glasgow in 1914. The church hall and an extension to the church were built in 1929 and the parsonage at 2 Oxford Road in 1933.


Saint James' RC Church

Inchinnan Road

[No picture available]

In 1877 a Dutch priest, Father Peter Evers, was given the task of providing for the Catholic residents of Renfrew who until then had been in the care of Saint Mirren's Church in Paisley. Land was bought in Fulbar Street and the new building served as a school on weekdays and a church on Sundays. In 1901 Saint James' Church was begun and it opened for worship in 1903. 



Do you have a photograph of any of these churches that I could add in to this site? Please email me if you do. I would be very grateful. Or memories of the people or Sunday schools/parties/bus runs that they ran?



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