"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10 v 13)

info@galstongospelhall.co.uk | 01563 820 273
Glebe Road, Galston, Ayrshire, KA4 8DT, Scotland

A Brief History Of Galston Gospel Hall

The history of Galston Gospel Hall can be traced back to the late 1860's when, due to some disputes in the local coalfields around Galston, the coalfield owners 'imported' labour from Cornwall in the form of a band of Cornish tin miners.

Despite an initial local resentment towards this new group of Cornishmen and their families, over time the newcomers won the respect of the community, not least due to their strong religious faith and excellent character. In contrast to the Presbyterian religion, these tin miners were Methodists, meeting in a converted weaver's shop at 58 Titchfield Street for worship, praise and prayer; their simple sincerity resulted in many genuine conversions and many changed lives.

Titchfield Street (photo courtesy of Sam Kay of ayrshirehistory.com)

From this Methodist group, all of whom were keen students of the Bible, emerged the Brethren Movement in Galston. They met in a house at Galston Cross with the Bible as their only mandate. Convicted of their need to remember the Lord's death every Lord's Day in the breaking of bread and the drinking of the memorial wine, until He come again, the first meeting of the Brethren in Galston took place in the beginning of 1871, in the home of Mr and Mrs Robert Blane of Galston Cross. Christian Assemblies had begun to be formed in one or two places in Ayrshire and, at this time, there was also a general growth of the Brethren Movement in Ireland and England.

 

Galston Cross c.1900 (photo courtesy of Sam Kay of ayrshirehistory.com)

This step, of moving outside the conventional state church system, was not without its reproach for the believers in the Brethren Assembly in Galston, but they bore the ridicule and ostracism gladly in their desire to please the Lord Jesus and they faithfully loved and served one another in sickness and in health. Their influence was felt throughout the town and those in the churches took note of their genuine love and the warmth and sincerity of their Christianity. The Christians wanted to share the Good News of the joy of salvation they had come to know through faith in the Lord Jesus and so they started to preach the gospel in the open air.

They secured a hall in the Old Manse Close - the first house as you enter the close from Brewland Street.

At the end of 1871, when the coal miners were on strike, the Christians in the assembly lived and preached the gospel. There was deep conviction of sin and many were converted, with some real trophies of grace. The assembly grew in number to 150. Baptisms in the River Irvine or the Burnawn at Galston were frequent. One young man in the assembly, William Blane, an engine keeper at Burnbank Pit, wrote the hymn "Kept, safely kept " ( Believer's Hymn Book no. 121 ) at this time.

 

The River Irvine at Galston

The Burnawn near Galston

The time came when the hall in Old Manse Close was too small to comfortably accommodate the believers and so it was decided to move the meeting place to the Co-operative Hall in Titchfield Street. There then followed a move to Henrietta Street to another hall in 1879. A vigorous gospel testimony was maintained and preachers and Bible teachers such as Alexander Marshall and John Ritchie were regular visitors. As a result of pioneer work by two local brethren, David Robertson and William Blane, both in their early twenties at this point, assemblies were also formed in Newmilns and Hurlford.

A number of years later the Brethren in Galston decided to build a better and more substantial hall. After much thought and prayer the final choice was a piece of ground in the glebe lands of the Parish Church. A deputation from the Assembly visited the Rev. James A. Hogg, the Parish Church Minister ; he received them most cordially and used his influence to procure the desired ground, which is, of course, the present day site of the hall in Glebe Road, Galston. The Evangelistic Hall or Gospel Hall then is perhaps unique among places of worship belonging to Christian Brethren Assemblies, being built on ground belonging to the Church of Scotland.

With all the benefit of hindsight we can say surely they were guided in their choice of a site. They sought something worthy of the Lord and the Gospel and selected a site that has proved to be central even with the spreading out of the community in recent years. An added advantage is the residential quarter in which the hall is situated, the 'house of worship' seldom being disturbed by outside noises.

The structure, with its red sandstone front and brick walls, slowly took shape on the present site in Glebe Road, with the members contributing to the cost of its construction. The opening day came on Saturday 26th November, 1898, when a conference was held. The speakers were well known ministers of the Word who had previously been of great help spiritually in the building up of assembly life. They were: Messrs William Lindsay, John Ritchie, W.J. Grant, John Ferguson and Peter Hynd. Also present on that occasion was the Rev. Mr Hogg, who had proved himself a true friend and helper. The number in fellowship at that time was 130. So a new era in the life of Galston Assembly was commenced.

The present site of the hall in Glebe Road

Much activity has taken place in the hall since its opening day through Sunday school work, Children's missions, Gospel preaching, Bible teaching and Open Air Testimony, all of which have continued to the present day.The small Hall was added through voluntary labour and was officially opened on January 8th, 1937.

During the Second World War the Hall was open almost every evening for the soldiers billeted at Loudoun Castle. Long tables were set up with writing materials and stamps and many soldiers availed themselves of this service.They were given refreshment and an opportunity to talk to the brethren and sisters in the assembly. A short Gospel Message was spoken at the end of the evening, and, before leaving, they were handed a Gospel Tract or New Testament, if they wanted one, and sometimes a small parcel of socks, knitted by the sisters.

Throughout the years, the influence of the Assembly has spread from Galston to other parts of the world, with members of the assembly engaging in full time missionary work in foreign fields. Robert Crawford Allison and his wife, Margaret, were commended to serve the Lord in Angola in 1935. William and Jean Templeton were commended to serve the Lord in Trinidad in 1934. George Martin was commended to serve the Lord in Bolivia in 1959, marrying Janette Moore, who shared his interest in the mission field, in 1966. More recently ,in 1989, Ian and Mary Robertson were commended to full time service for the Lord in Ayrshire and the United Kingdom.

Since the opening of the hall in 1898 until the present day, on the last Saturday of November each year, the Assembly have hosted their Annual Conference and many well known Brethren speakers have graced the platform over the years.Tuesday evenings from 7.30 till 9.00 p.m. have always been dedicated to prayer and Bible Reading and, over the past fifty years, almost the whole of the New Testament has been studied and discussed.

On Sunday evenings the Gospel message is preached throughout the year at 6.30 p.m. In addition to this, in the summer months of June, July and August an Open Air Gospel Meeting takes place in the afternoon from 2.30 p.m. till 3.00 p.m. preceded by a Prayer Meeting in the Hall at 2.15 p.m. During each Open Air Meeting Gospel tracts are distributed from door to door so that by the end of August the aim is to have covered the whole of Galston with the Gospel, both in written and spoken form. In June the Assembly is involved in tract distribution in the neighbouring villages of Sorn, Waterside and Moscow.

A fuller account of the history of the Hall has been published in the book (illustrated right) entitled 'Evangelistic Hall, Glebe Road, Galston -1898 to 1998 centenary' written by Mr John S. Borland (part1) and Mrs May Young (part2).