Sunday, 25 April 2021

Former St Andrew's Free Church, Greenock

Now a furniture warehouse (Pypers Superstore), this lovely building was constructed in 1835/36 as St Andrew's Church, West Stewart Street, Greenock.  The building was paid for by subscription and a grant from the Church of Scotland.  

(You can see in this photograph where there was once a small steeple.)

After the 1843 Disruption in the Church of Scotland (when many ministers left the Established Church of Scotland to form the more evangelical Free Church) the congregation followed the example of their minister, the Rev John James Bonar (1803-1891) who left the Established Church of Scotland.  The congregation acquired the building and set themselves up as St Andrew's Free Church.  John James Bonar was a very popular minister with an active congregation which counted among its number many influential townsmen.

In 1879 the congregation were made an offer they couldn't refuse!  A local businessman - Robert MacSymon, grocer, offered a large sum of money for the church premises.  Being situated just off West Blackhall Street, it was the ideal site for his new commercial warehouse.

The congregation took the money and decided they would  raise funds to build a new church in Greenock's west end.  A site at the corner of Margaret Street and Ardgowan Street was acquired and a new church was built.  While construction was underway, the congregation worshipped in a hall in Nelson Street.  Their new church was opened in May 1881.  Rev J J Bonar and his brothers Andrew (Glasgow) and Horatius (Edinburgh) who were also ministers, preached at the opening service.  

St Andrew's Church in Margaret Street designed by  David Barclay was demolished in the 1970s.  You can see photographs of the Church here on the Inverclyde Heritage Hub's Facebook page.

Meanwhile, back in July 1880 after extensive alterations, Robert MacSymon opened his New Italian Warehouse in the former church in West Stewart Street.  It was fitted out with all the latest shop fittings.  There was even a waiting room for ladies!  One section of the shop was devoted to the sale of teas, coffees, sugars and spices with tea cutter, coffee grinder.  Other groceries were also sold.  The building was decorated in magnificent style as this article from the Greenock Telegraph shows -

The building also incorporated offices and had its own stables for the horses and delivery carts.  Stores could be moved to and from the shop by a hydraulic hoist.  Sounds like a remarkable place!  Throughout the years this lovely building has been through lots of changes of use.  At one time it was used as a music hall.  I'm sure many of us are just grateful that it still exists.

Joining with InSPIREd Sunday.


  1. WOOW
    A delightful archoitecture. I am delighted with it!
    Very beautiful white church and great photos.
    Have a wonderful Sunday.
    Hugs and greetings.

  2. I like the ornamental design.

  3. There as some nice churches in Scotland, hope you continue posting them in Inspired Sunday you find some nice churches around Greenock

  4. gorgeous details. thank you for joining us. have a super great week. take care. ( ;


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