The original church in Ledard Road, the “Tin Kirk”, opened on 22nd June 1902 and the Rev. W Fulton was inducted in March 1903. There were 54 members.
Rapid growth made a ‘proper’ church a necessity and, after much fund-raising, the new building was formally opened on 16th May 1909.
It was known as Battlefield Church but still had the subordinate status of a “Chapel of Ease” and its members were, in church law, members of the parent church, Cathcart Old Parish.
The status of parish quod sacra was not attained until 19th July 1912.
The remarkable picture shows the “Tin Kirk” alongside the new sanctuary.
Mr. Fulton translated to the Parish of Keir in May 1914 and was succeeded by Dr. J. Hutcheson Cockburn from Mearns (Presbytery of Paisley).
During the First World War, Dr. Cockburn served abroad and, just before the war ended, was called to Dunblane Cathedral in 1918. He was later to be Moderator of the General Assembly.
Mr. C.R. Donaldson came from Latheron in Caithness and occupied a new manse at 23 Cathkin Road, another great achievement for the congregation.
The church continued to prosper with its organisations developing and the church magazine appearing for the first time. By now, stained glass windows had been installed and many gifts of furnishings had been received.
The church was thriving when Mr. Donaldson left for Riccarton in November 1926.
Mr. W.W. Morrell was inducted from Elderslie in June 1927 and, shortly afterwards, the church was re-decorated and electric lighting was installed.
Mr. Fulton returned to conduct one of the semi-jubilee services. Sadly, Mr. Mozart Allan – the first Session Clerk – died in 1928. An oak lectern and the stained glass windows behind the gallery were donated by the congregation and the family respectively in his memory.
With the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1928, two churches both had the name, “Battlefield”. Ours was changed to Battlefield West Parish
Called from his charge at Innerleithen, Stanley C. Munro was to become the longest-serving minister in Battlefield. He saw the congregation through the long, dark years of the second world war.
During his time, the memorial halls were added on the Falloch Road side of the church. Another significant event was the first union, with Erskine Rose, in 1972.
This meant a further change of name to Battlefield Erskine Parish Church. Mr. Munro retired from Battlefield, and the ministry, in 1973.
The sixth minister, John Ross, was Australian. A former Australian Navy Chaplain, he had been working with the World Council of Churches in Italy. He was to make dramatic changes and was minister when the second union, this time with Langside Old, took place.
The new name was Langside & Battlefield Erskine Parish Church, sensibly shortened to Langside Parish on the union of Battlefield East with Langside Hill. Mr. Ross took up an industrial chaplaincy post in Dundee in 1984.
George Whyte was ministering in Argyll when called to Langside. His ministry co-incided with Glasgow’s year as European City of Culture and he made massive contributions at congregational and Presbytery level alike.
Most significantly, he initiated planning for a new building in the light of massive problems with the existing building. However, he accepted a call to Colinton Parish Church in Edinburgh before he could bring these plans to fruition.
He is currently Clerk to the Presbytery of Edinburgh.
A union of the two churches in Darvel gave Langside the opportunity of inducting its first woman minister. Liz McIntyre proved a popular choice but she faced difficult years.
Progress to the new building was not smooth and the church moved to the Cargill Club for two and a half years before the old building was demolished at Easter 1995 and, remarkably, the new building was open for worship by Christmas of the same year.
Sadly, she was not to enjoy it for long. After a brave fight with illness, she died in 1997.
Another first – the first Welsh minister of Langside – Owain Jones was to stay for a short time only before being called to Kilbarchan East.
He was an exceptional preacher who, on occasion, reached great heights of eloquence.
During his time, the manse re-located to the present house in Madison Avenue.
Owain Jones has now moved to the United Church of Bute.
Like Mr. Morrell over quarter of a century earlier, David McLachlan was called from Elderslie. His ministry represented another change of direction, with great practical emphasis on justice and peace issues.
However, in May 2009, the ‘new’ church building was gutted by a disastrous fire. The congregation moved back to the Cargill Club for almost two years, returning to a new, larger building on Easter Sunday 2011.
Why a new building for the 21st century?
The building erected in 1908 survived until the 1980’s. However by 1988 it was in serious need of structural repair, particularly to the roof. Architect’s reports were obtained and it became clear that the full cost of repair would be similar to that of constructing a new building.
In 1990 when the river Cart burst its banks yet again, the building sustained serious damage to the foundations, convincing all involved of the merit of providing a new church building, one better equipped to meet future needs and less costly to maintain. In December of that year the decision was taken to proceed. Following long and often difficult negotiations, planning permission was granted and the old building was demolished in early 1995.
By this time the congregation was meeting in the Cargill Senior Citizens’ Club across the road. Flemings Builders started work in April of the same year and completed the job on schedule. The keys were handed over to the Rev. Liz McIntyre and the congregation by the end of the year on 15th December.
The fire of 2009
On the afternoon of Friday 8 May 2009, a fire was discovered in a storage cupboard in the sanctuary at Langside Church. Within minutes of raising the alarm and safely evacuating the few people in the building, the fire brigade arrived to tackle the fast spreading blaze. Unfortunately the sanctuary was gutted and much art and equipment was destroyed.
By Sunday morning when the congregation met for worship in the Cargill Club across the road a new note of optimism was spreading and although still in a state of some shock, there was an awareness that a new opportunity may just be on the horizon.
Over the two years that followed exciting new plans for an exended building were developed with CRGP architects and constructed again by Fleming, finally opening for Easter on 24th April 2011.