Historical Information

The story of St John’s

(adapted from St John’s: A Guide for Members and Through Change and Chance)


1834                          St John’s is born

1837                          St John’s School founded

1843                          The Disruption

1900                          Pipe organ built

St John’s joins United Free Church of Scotland

1914                          St John’s School transferred to new building

Two church halls created

1921                          St John’s acquires Manse in Barncluth Road, Hamilton.

1929                          St John’s joins Church of Scotland

1934                          Fundraising for centenary church hall

1966                          Union between St John’s and two other congregations proposed   and rejected

1970                          St John’s Centre opens

1973                          Church restoration and refurbishment 

1999                          Digital organ installed

2000                          Project 2000: St John’s Centre enters a new millennium

2000                           onwards to be updated 10/05/15

2012                         A new manse in Ferniegair replaces the old manse.

2012                         Church Sanctuary and centre has Major refurbishment.










1834    St John’s is created in the Parish of Hamilton.  At that time, the Parish had two ministers.  The building in Leechlee Road of today which we now know as The Old Parish Church, was their building.


As the town grew, a group of parishioners committed to forming a second congregation gathered round the second Parish minister, Reverend William Buchan.  Money was obtained through subscriptions to erect our building in Duke Street, Hamilton, which opened for worship towards the end of November 1834.




1837    The St John’s School is founded and is located in a new building next to the church.  The first Rector of the school was Mr Fullarton Baird who served in this post for 11 years.  Reverend William Buchan also taught in the school.



1843    For a while, this second congregation of the Hamilton Parish came under the jurisdiction of the Parish Session.  However, as with many congregations all over Scotland who felt strongly against what they saw as a malaise in the established church of their day, and in particular, against the practice of Patronage of Stipends, St John’s left the established church in the Disruption of 1843 and became the Hamilton Free Church, a congregation of the Free Church of Scotland.



1900    The pipe organ is erected in the church.  Created by Walcker of Germany, it costs £600.



1900    Union takes place between The Free Church of Scotland, of which St John’s was a member, and the United Presbyterian Church, forming the United Free Church of Scotland.



1914    The St John’s School is transferred to a new St John’s Grammar School building in Hope Street.  The school later merged with Hamilton Academy to form Hamilton Grammar School.  Today, St John’s provides the chaplain for Hamilton Grammar and St John’s Primary School in Dixon Street.



1914    Two church halls are created in the former St John’s School building next to the church.



1921    St John’s acquires the Manse at Castlehill Crescent (still in use today) to replace Cadzow Villa, which previously served this purpose.



1929    During the century that followed the Disruption, many of the points of dispute were settled.  In 1929, St John’s and most of the other churches in the United Free Church of Scotland reunites with the established church to become part of the modern Church of Scotland.


Parish boundaries were extensively redrawn to give each of the numerous Church of Scotland congregations a parish in which to exercise pastoral care and ministry.   The St John’s parish covers the area bounded by Quarry Street, Keith Street, the railway line, the Avon river and Strathclyde Park.  This parish had been part of the Parish of Cadzow created by the established church in the late 19th century to meet the needs of a growing industrial town.



1934    St John’s starts raising funds for a new church hall to mark the centenary of the church.  Building was completed and the new halls opened in 1937.



1966    A union between St John’s and two other Hamilton congregations is proposed.  This venture is rejected, however, enabling St John’s to call a new minister.  Reverend Dr John Brown was inducted in June 1967.



1970    St John’s Centre  By conventional thinking, the church in a depopulated area has outlived its purpose – until you remember that sometimes populations do things other than live in houses: they work in offices and shops, and come to do their shopping by the thousands in a parish like ours!  In the late 1960s St John’s saw that although the parish was depopulated in terms of residences, it had become highly populated in terms of commerce, thanks to the town centre redevelopment.  So in 1970, the St John’s Centre was opened to be a sort of “shop front” church open during the working week.  The Centre has become the distinctive feature of our church and our very special responsibility.  Of course, St John’s also continues to exist as a normal church with the activities for worship, fellowship and youth work that are described elsewhere in this web site.



1973    The church is restored and refurbished, involving a new floor, ceiling, pews and central heating.



1999    A digital organ is installed to replace the pipe organ.  The original facia of the pipe organ has been retained.



2000  Project 2000: bringing the vision of St John’s Centre into the new millennium.