Bible and Bethany Hall


1895 Blantyre Robyn Downie wm

1890s Auld Robin Downie at Back Priestfield

You may remember a short time ago, I posted about old Robin Downie of Priestfield (pictured). Well, here is some information relating to the Baptist Church and good, solid confirmation of where the High Blantyre Bethany Hall was. Norma Marr who lives in Canada kindly emailed me a few weeks ago to say, 

“A couple of years ago I was going through some boxes and found an old bible that belonged to Robert Downie. At the time I thought it was my great uncle Robert Downie but now realize that it actually belonged to old Robin Downie and was a gift from the pastor Walter Wilson. I did a little research at that time on Walter Wilson and discovered that he was the founder of the Blantyre Baptist Church and realized that there is still a small congregation that still meets to this day. I contacted Rev. Steve Younger and asked him if he would like the bible for the church archive. He was interested and I mailed the bible to him and it should reside there to this day. The bible wasn’t in great shape but it did have some interesting inscriptions and articles in it. I photocopied them for my records.
So here are the incriptions:
               Robert Downie
               With best wishes from W. Wilson.  16th Feb. 1898
               High Blantyre”
The following was written on the reverse page by my great uncle Jimmie (James Downie — Maggie’s brother)
Walter Wilson preached in the Bethanay Hall, School Lane, High Blantyre, for over 40 years and was a life long friend of Robert Downie, Back Priestfield, High Blantyre. Walter Wilson was a brother of William Wilson, Tailor, Main Street, High Blantyre”
After Robin’s death the bible then came into the possession of Jessie Stark Glendinning (her mother was Janet Downie, Robin’s daughter) who was the award winning student in New Lanark and his granddaughter. The bible’s journey continued . . . after Jessie died it came to Canada and was owned by my Uncle Jimmie (Downie) and then my Auntie Gina (Patrick) and then to me. And now the book has been returned home to Blantyre.”
Pictured also is the Baptist Church in High Blantyre Main Street.
1920s high-blantyre-baptist-church wm

However, the notes added by Jimmie later on the reverse pages may be a little inaccurate…..for Gordon Cook, local historian told me of this, “The Bethany Hall was actually a hut at the corner of Cemetery Road and Main Street, High Blantyre, and was a great centre for evangelistic meetings with many visiting speakers, they used to advertise the meetings in the local press.

The school Lane Hall associated with Walter Wilson was the old school hall, Walter Wilson was a member of the Lanarkshire Christian Union and he was also a member of another Christian fellowship group (can’t quite remember its name), and because of these meetings being held there it became known as the Christian Institute.

Pastor Wilson didn’t have any connection to the Bethany Hall, but he did start out as a Sunday School teacher for the Rev. John Burleigh I think. He taught his class in the Masonic Hall at High Blantyre for a while until they were told the couldn’t use the room any more, and while he was looking for another place for the kids, his father who was a manager in the Auchinraith Colliery, offered the ambulance room there with all the coal they needed and plenty of light.

Walter attended the Anderson church for while, but when he became convinced that adult “believer’s” baptism was the correct mode of baptism (as opposed to infant baptism practised in the Church of Scotland) he left and with about thirteen other like minded folk, they began a baptist meeting in the old school at School Lane. This was in 1896. By 1910 they had about 50 members and paid £100 for a small billiard hall on the Main Street, it had been built by an Italian gentleman some years before. The fellowship from School Lane officially opened it for worship in 1911, and that became the Baptist Church in High Blantyre for the next sixty years, and was known locally as Wattie Wilson’s wee tin kirk. It was taken down and replaced with the present church in 1971.”

On social media:

Anne Mackie fascinating story xx
Pamela Campbell Another lovely piece very interesting x

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