History of Granton Parish Church to 1977
We’ve recently discovered a document which was written for the church’s centenary in 1977 setting out the church’s history to date. We think the account was written by Mr Alex Brown who was Session Clerk at the time (but as they say on Wikipedia ‘citation needed’!).
It’s an interesting read as we move into the next chapter of our history, moving to closer ties with St Serf’s Church.
THE HISTORY OF GRANTON PARISH CHURCH.
The history of Granton starts about the 16th century, when the countryside by the shore was raided by the English, led by the Earl of Hereford.
The countryside was relatively flat and well wooded and eventually this led to the establishing of country retreats for the gentlemen of Edinburgh. One of these was Granton Castle, removed not so many years ago as a dangerous structure. A certain Lord Pilton had a house more or less in the middle of the present Pilton housing area. The most interesting estate was that of Royston which in 1685 passed to Viscount Tarbet who became a senator of the College of Justice. In 1743 Royston was in the
hands of the Duke of Argyll who, in turn, passed to his daughter Caroline who married the Earl of Dalkeith, and thus the lands came to be connected with the Buccleuch family. This family played a major role in the development of Granton.
Caroline Park House is named after the Duke’s daughter and is a notable specimen of the domestic architecture of the period and is well worth a visit.
Development of Granton Harbour:
The modern history of Granton starts in 1833 when the then Duke of Buccleuch initiated a scheme resulting in the building of a fine harbour at Granton, and in 1845 when it was completed it became a busy shipping centre, threatening to rival its near neighbour, Leith. It had a ferry service to Burntisland and was until recently occupied mainly by trailers of the Forth fishing fleet. Vessels
carrying esparto-grass for the paper industry were much in evidence and it was also the main depot of the Northern Lighthouse Commission. The village was built to house the harbour workers and their families.
On the east side the appearance of the houses was disfigured by the building of the railway embankment.
First Church Meetings:
In the village people expressed a desire to have religious meetings and as the number of families grew this need was expressed more forcibly and around 1857 the Rev. James Robertson was appointed and ministered for nearly twenty years. The first meetings were held in the upper room of the parochial school, a building occupied for many years by a net making firm.
First Church at Granton Square:
The Duke of Buccleuch in 1877 caused a Church to be built at the foot of Granton Road and generously handed it over along with an endowment of £50 per annum to the Church of Scotland. In 1887 the Duke of Buccleuch appointed the Rev. Thomas S. Goldie as minister of Granton. Mr. Goldie ministered at Granton for over forty years and saw many changes take place in the area.
In 1889 the Church at Granton, was disjoined from Cramond, the Dean and St. Bernard’s, and thus became a Quod Sacra Parish Church.
Mr. Goldie retired in 1928 after a long and notable ministry and was succeeded by the Rev. (later Dr.) Thomas MacFarlane, who like his predecessor ministered in Granton for over forty years, and also like his predecessor saw many changes take place in the parish.
New Church at Boswall Parkway:
With the building of a housing area west of Granton Road it became evident that the Church at the foot of Granton Road was inadequate to meet the needs of a very rapidly growing community at Pilton. After very careful consideration and much discussion the Kirk Session called the attention of the Presbytery for the need of more commodious buildings at Granton. After further consideration it was unanimously agreed to transfer some of the activities to what had now become the centre of the parish, mainly the Pilton area, retaining the old buildings still for religious use.
The Home Committee had acquired a fine central site for the new Church and building operations on a big scale got under way.
On Monday 72nd October 1934 the foundation stone was laid by the Duke of York (later King George VI). Under the foundation stone there is a cavity holding a casket containing ‘The Scotsman’, ‘Life and Work’, extension scheme documents, architect’s description of the Church Buildings, a list of contractors, the name of surveyor and Clerk of Works, note of the cost of building and a copy of the programme used at the ceremony when the foundation stone was placed in position.
The Church is built of stone, the rubble facework from Craigmillar Quarry, and the hewn stone to match it from Doddington Quarry, Northumberland. Port Orford cedar palin plates divide the ceiling of the Church into long panels, the panels themselves being of ash. The aisle and chancel flooring of the Church are in birch. The east wall is plain panelled in oak with solid oak seats. The pulpit, choir stalls, lectern, baptismal font and all external doors are of oak.
As stated earlier, on Monday 22nd October 1934, H.R.H. The Duke of York laid the foundation stone of the new buildings to be built under the National Church Extension Scheme. The first part of the buildings, designed by Mr. John Matthew, F.R.I.B.A., was opened and dedicated on 3rd July 1935 by the Very Rev. Charles L. Warr, D.D.
By 26th February 1936, the beautiful Church, enriched by several generous gifts, was completed, and on that day was dedicated to the glory of God by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt. Rev. Marshall B.Lang D.D.
A source of pride to the congregation is its fine two manual pipe organ built on the extension principle with accessories. The organ has proved its worth in the life of the church services and choral and congregational singing at Granten is well known because of its high standard in and around Edinburgh.
So the congregation of Granton entered upon a new chapter in its history, praying that it might be worthy of its past, and be enabled to serve God and the people with a new zeal and faithfulness.
Great responsibilities lie upon a congregation such as this, upon minister, office bearers and people alike, but the privilege is also great and the reward of faithful service beyond all human reckoning.
It appears to the writer that those responsibilities have been accepted and acted upon. After Dr. MacFarlane retired Granton had for nine years the Rev. William Thomas and in 1978 after Rev. Thomas Granton called the Rev. Norman L. Faulds.
In the hundred years 1877-1977 the Church had four ministers, five SessionClerks, five organists and many others who have given long service to Granton Parish Church.
Two outstanding features of Church life since the building of the new Church were the Stewardship Services in 1964 and the Centenary Service in 1977.
Where do we go from here?
As said earlier our responsibilities are great and yet reading over the old records of Granton Parish Church one aspect seems to stand out. This aspect is that there is always someone
prepared to carry on the traditions of service and as long as this remains within our congregation then Granton Parish Church need not fear the future. We may think today that the times are more difficult for church workers,
but this has always been so and because we continue to have very devoted servants of the Church in every sphere at Granton we can look with hope to the future.