Anderson Church burned down 1978

1978 Anderson Church burned down

1978 Anderson Church

Pictured in this series of photos is the Anderson church on Stonefield Road on its final day. Sadly the church was burned down on 8th June 1978 by an unknown cause. The church hall on the right remains today as Smith’s Funeral Parlour.

I remember this day well. It was around 5pm in the afternoon. I was home from High Blantyre Primary school and only 7 years old. Mum left my baby brother at home with gran and we walked the dog down to the scene, having witnessed the columns of smoke from way up at Stonefield Crescent. If you look at the picture on the far right, my mother, large white dog and I are pictured. Fire engines zoomed past us, police arrived and an ambulance attended, despite no injuries. Crowds of people from nearby soon amassed and we were held back from the inferno by the road which was closed off, with cars diverted to Burnbrae Road. It was hellish hot at the scene, you could feel it on your face and the air was filled with grey, arid smoke. It was clear the firemen were fighting a losing battle when the roof finally gave way and crashed with an “almighty” sounds into the church itself. Following the fire, the basement remained flooded for some time.

It is alleged that the upper part of the steeple had suffered damage and been taken away for safety and never replaced. The beautiful fittings and ornaments were destroyed inside.

The minister of Blantyre in 1843 was the Rev. James Anderson and he broke away with many of his people and formed a branch of the Free Church. A church was built simply called ‘Blantyre Free Church’. In 1846, however, the church was burned down. Their new church was built in 1872 on Stonefield Road. It was built of light grey sandstone in shape of the cross (as seen from photo). In 1900 it became ‘Blantyre United Free Church’. In 1929, it went into the union to reform the Church of Scotland and was renamed ‘Anderson Church of Scotland’, after its first minister, Rev. James Anderson. A hall was built next to it in 1939 at the outbreak of war. For a few years, it became linked with Stonefield Parish.

What a crying shame so many of Blantyre Churches suffered the fate of fire.

On social media:

  • Marian Maguire I wonder if that’s my husband John, operating the turntable ladder? As I believe he was at this fire. Such a shame a lovely wee church.

  • James Graham I went to the scouts there around 1950.
  • Jean Boyd My mum and dad were married in this wee church in 1940,
  • Ann Crossar We live across the road from the church and I remember our windows were very hot from the heat from the fire. The Guides and Scouts operating from the church at the time collected newspapers (must have been a recycling thing at the time to earn money for funds) and it was believed that all the newspapers stored in the church was the reason the fire took hold so quickly.
  • Elizabeth Dobson Grieve I remember when the old church burned down. We sometimes had a church service there with the school.

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