St Michaels Church - History

History of St Michael and All Angels

A small Episcopal congregation existed in Helensburgh as early as 1814. In 1841 a small apartment in William St was fitted up as a temporary Chapel and in September the Rt Rev Dr Michael Russell, the first Bishop of the restored United Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway, administered Holy Communion to 28 people.

Within a month of the Bishop's visit the Revd James McKenzie was appointed as the first incumbent. In 1843 a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity was consecrated by Bishop Russell. The building was of stone, plain and functional, seating 220. In 1851 a Day School was added to this chapel, which continued until 1912.

In 1857 the present Rectory or Parsonage was built, the date being commemorated in the etched windows of the front door. In the same year the railway arrived in Helensburgh, leading to a fast growth in the population, so that by 1868 the congregation had outgrown Holy Trinity Chapel.

The present St Michael & All Angels was completed in 1868. Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, the Edinburgh architect, chose the French Gothic style of the 13th century for the building. The external stonework of red sandstone was from Comcockle, Dumfriesshire and the internal limestone from Caen in Normandy.

During the long ministry of the Rev John Syme (1862-1905 ) some important improvements were made to the fabric and furnishings, most noticeable being the organ built by August Gern, foreman of the famous French organ builders Cavaille-Coll.

The church hall was built in 1912 and in 1930 the Church tower, with a peal of eightbells cast by John Taylor & Co., of Loughborough, was built and dedicated. Further additions in recent years have been the simple and beautiful side chapel in 1958, the small hall in 1968 and the front porch in 1996.  

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Charity registered in Scotland SC:006468