This is a brief history of the building, formation and notable contents which now form Bellshill Central Parish Church of Scotland. We have acquired the information from past histories of the two former churches, church records and speaking with other office-bearers.
There has been a place of worship on this site since 1875. The foundation stone of the present building was laid on 9th June 1876. By June 1877 the building was ready for decoration and cleaning, and by the end of August 1877 ready for public worship.
The Congregation began in 1873 as a Free Church Mission, at the recommendation of the Free Church Presbytery of Hamilton and services were for a time held in Mossend school. The charge was sanctioned in 1874 – named Bellshill Free Church. The rapid growth of the population, employed in coal mines and iron works, favoured the development of the congregation. Initial Membership figures were: 143 in 1875 and 477 in 1900. At the union of the United Presbyterian and Free Church of Scotland, the congregation took the name Bellshill East United Free Church. The first Minister was William Macdonald, who the church was renamed after in 1912, as “Macdonald Memorial United Free Church“.
In 1929, at the Union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, the name changed to “The Macdonald Memorial Church of Scotland”.
This name remained in place until 2014 when the union of “Macdonald Memorial Church” and “Orbiston Parish Church” took place and the new congregation was to be known as “Bellshill Central Parish Church of Scotland“.
Orbiston Parish Church, being one of the later to be built in the area due to the postwar building, was first started as an extension charge in the wooden hall. The dedication service was held on 9 March 1954. With a quickly increasing membership, the church on Busby Rd was built with the dedication service held on 13 September 1956 and the first Sunday service was conducted by the minister Rev Albert F Bolton on Sunday 16 September 1956. By 1966 the church had received full Quoda Sacra status and had a membership of almost 500 communicants. It was linked with Bellshill St Andrews Church in October 1980 then linked with MacDonald Memorial Church in 2001.
Inside the Church
As you enter the Church through the main door you find yourself in the vestibule, facing you is a series of 4 memorials. Here you also find the flanking stairs to the gallery.
The first memorial is in memory of Rev William Macdonald, first minister of the church from 1874 – 1906.
There are two memorials for the Great War, one containing the names of those who died the other containing the names of those who served in the various armed forces.
There is one memorial dedicated to those who died in the Second World War, their names are engraved on the memorial.
On the welcome table is a bible and table lectern, which was gifted to Orbiston Parish Church at its dedication and opening.
On the stairs to the left is a stained glass window. It is designed and executed by Church Member, Lesley Marshall (nee Jackson) in memory of her grandfather Tom Downs who was a long serving session clerk of Macdonald Memorial.
You enter the Sanctuary from the doors from the vestibule, each at the head of the two aisles. As you enter there are side and rear galleries. These are original to the 1874 designs. The sanctuary could be described as a galleried interior, with boarded dado and timber pews. There are Cast-iron columns supporting the panelled gallery. There is a Communion table in front of a timber pulpit with stair access and a timber Gothic panelled organ and case behind.
The sanctuary is blessed with being adorned with a fine collection of stained glass windows. Behind the organ on the liturgical east wall is a memorial window commemorating the founding of the congregation in 1873 and it’s 50th anniversary in 1923.
All of the lower level windows are of particularly high quality stained glass depicting various themes and images from bible passages, including Creation, Loaves and Fishes, Golgotha, and some are in memory of Corporal James Brownlie Corbett who was killed in action during WW2 whilst serving in the RAF. There are two small memorial plaques in memory of Corporal Corbett. (see the church tour link above)
The pipe organ was installed in 1930 by Hilsdon of Glasgow. The organ console was originally located slightly further forward, but due to the enlargement of the Choir area and the removal of a few front pews the organ console is now sunk deep into the floor with the remaining centre section of pews behind. The organ itself has remained tonally unaltered from 1930. Over the years it has been restored and refurbished, most recently in 2015 and 2016 when the pneumatic action was replaced with solid state electronic.
The central pulpit was installed in 1960 when the church was redecorated, the organ console moved and repairs made to the ceiling and lighting. This pulpit replaced the original long and wide Free Church style pulpit. The original pulpit was almost the length of the organ case and was reached by steps on both sides. The present pulpit is approached from the vestry aisle and a short flight of steps. It was refurbished in memory of a former minister, Rev Albert Thomson, MA., minister of the church from 1942-1972. Located on the paneling is a memorial plaque.
The present communion table was gifted in 1930 by Gavin Blackie JP. The minister’s and elder’s chairs were gifted in 1952 by Jessie Blackie in memory of her sister Elizabeth. The lectern was gifted in 1972 in memory of William and Margaret Ferfuson. The font was gifted in 1943 by the Junior Choir.
A communion set with flagons, dated 1891, is displayed in a glass fronted case along with an original gold key of the building. A depiction of the Last Supper hangs above, in memory of David and Mary Inglis. Both are found at the front corner of the sanctuary. In the opposite corner is a portion of the cradle roll of the church.
The pew cushions were fitted in 2014. The choir chairs were originally in the former Broomknoll Church, Airdrie, and obtained in July 2017 to replace the existing chairs.
During the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we display banners which were created by members of the former Orbistion Parish Church for display in their Church. These were brought to the present church building after the union.
The hall is located immediately behind the church and is accessed from outside porches or from the sanctuary itself. In the early 2000’s the hall space for modified to include ladies, gents and disabled toilets, and an integral kitchen. Along with the hall, there is a minister’s vestry which has its own access door from the outside and entry into the sanctuary.
A small garden area has been created along the main pathway to the halls complex and a decked area installed outside and decorated with floral areas by the Brownies, Guides and Rainbows.
The most recent addition to the Church and Halls has been the installation of WIFI.