Alterations to Kelvinside United Free Church, including Ross Taylor memorial

M294 Alterations to Kelvinside United Free Church, including Ross Taylor memorial

Address: 731, Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 8QX
Date: 1909
Client: Kelvinside United Free Church
Authorship: Authorship category 4 (Office) (Office)

Colour photograph of Walter Ross Taylor memorial, Kelvinside United Free Church

Kelvinside Free Church, a powerful Gothic Revival building with a landmark tower and spire at the corner of Great Western Road and Byres Road, was designed in 1862 by J. J. Stevenson of Campbell Douglas & Stevenson; it was altered in 1886 when an organ recess was added at the E. end. 1 It became Kelvinside United Free Church in 1900. H. L. Honeyman (1885–1956), the son of John Honeyman, described the building in 1913 from the perspective of a younger generation as 'a rather prim piece of Ruskinism'. 2

A history published in 1909 to mark the 50th anniversary of the congregation describes the extensive programme of improvements carried out that year, including 'the reconstruction of the organ, pulpit and choir platform; the painting and cleaning of the entire church fabric, within and without; the installation of electric light; a new system of heating and ventilation; and the reconstruction of the back gallery'. 3 The work was overseen by 'the architect, Mr. John Keppie, F.R.I.B.A. (of Messrs. Honeyman, Keppie & Macintosh [sic])'. It seems that no petition was submitted to the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court, which suggests that any structural alterations involved were too minor to require the Court's approval. Nevertheless, the 1909 history thanks Keppie for his 'professional skill in overcoming difficulties in dealing with structural alterations', as well as for 'the artistic taste displayed throughout'. In the job-book entry, the first payment to the painters John Orr & Sons is recorded in Mackintosh's hand, but there is nothing else to suggest his involvement.

At the same time as the alterations, the firm designed a marble tablet for the church to commemorate the Rev. Walter Ross Taylor, who served as minister from 1868 until his death in 1907. 4 It includes a relief portrait by Archibald MacFarlane Shannan.

Halls and a session house were added to the E. end in 1928–9, 5 and there have been more radical internal changes in connection with the building's present use. Apart from the Ross Taylor memorial, it is uncertain what, if anything, survives of Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh's work.



1: Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 303.

2: Glasgow Herald, 31 May 1913, p. 4.

3: Kelvinside United Free Church, Glasgow: A Record of Fifty Years, 1859–1909, Glasgow: Robert MacLehose, 1909, pp. 136–41.

4: George Eyre-Todd, 'The Late Very Rev. Walter Ross Taylor', Who's Who in Glasgow in 1909, Glasgow: Gowans & Grey Limited, 1909, p. 203.

5: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild plans, 1928/240; Glasgow Herald, 22 October 1929, p. 6.