Halls at Free Church West, Perth

M107 Halls at Free Church West, Perth

Address: Tay Street, Perth PH1 5TF
Date: 1895–6
Client: Perth Free Church West
Authorship: Authorship category 3 (Office with Mackintosh) (Office with Mackintosh)

Twenty-five years after John Honeyman designed Perth Free West Church, John Honeyman & Keppie returned to design a set of halls. These extend W. behind the church to Watergate, a lane running parallel with Tay Street on which the church stands. Though plain, the new buildings were favourably described by the Perthshire Critic: 'the congregation and their esteemed pastor, the Reverend Gordon Clark, are to be warmly congratulated on the successful completion of their great and comprehensive scheme of building, for there are few churches north of the Tweed which can claim to be so splendidly equipped in every detail.' 1

Drawings

Of the drawings submitted to Perth Dean of Guild Court in August 1895, only four sheets survive. 2 These are a block plan; a floor plan; a S. elevation and sections; and a roof plan and N. and W. elevations. It appears that at least two draughtsmen prepared the drawings. Mackintosh seems to have drawn the two sheets of sections and elevations: his distinctive handwriting is on the sheet showing the S. elevation and sections, and the skilful draughtsmanship and careful layout and colouring of both drawings are characteristic of him.

The plans show a large, rectangular hall for 466 persons with its long W. side on Watergate. S. of this, along a very narrow lane or vennel, is a smaller and lower Session hall; and to its N., between the large hall and the church, are a vestry, a 'men's room', a 'ladies' room', a kitchen and lavatories. Corridors connect the halls to the church and there is a stepped entrance at the N.

Exterior

Like the church, the Watergate elevation of the large hall is of pink sandstone, snecked, with yellow dressings. It has a cornice and quoins and five bipartite mullioned-and-transomed windows. The existing (2012) wooden frames and glass appear to have been renewed. In the short gable ends are two large, round-headed windows, of which the S. one is blocked. The roof has three ventilators, probably original, and its E. side is partly glazed. There are hopper-heads dated 1895.

Colour photograph of St Matthew's (formerly Perth Free West) Church, S. elevation of large hall

The Session hall is of the same materials and has windows with Decorated Gothic tracery. It has been divided into two smaller halls.

Colour photograph of St Matthew's (formerly Perth Free West) Church, N. elevation of Session hal

Interior

The sectional drawings show both halls with open timber roofs. The trusses are simpler than the contemporary ones with decorative king posts at St Paul's Mission Hall and Martyrs School.

Since 1965, a suspended ceiling has been fitted in the large hall, concealing the trusses, and a stage has been constructed, resulting in the blocked S. window. Both halls have wood panelling to chair-rail height, and the doors to the Session hall have Jacobean-style strap mouldings.

Colour photograph of St Matthew's (formerly Perth Free West) Church, roof truss in Session hallColour photograph of St Matthew's (formerly Perth Free West) Church, strapwork on door in large hall

Notes:

1: Perthshire Critic, 29 August 1896, quoted in St Matthew's Church, Perth: A Century of Worship and Service, 1871–1971, Self-published pamphlet, 1971, p. 4.

2: Perth & Kinross Council Archives: Dean of Guild Court plans, DGP/1895/52a–d.