History: Sandyford Church (Thread Street)

The original Sandyford (Thread St.) Church was the newest Church of Scotland. within the bounds of the Burgh of Paisley. In another sense, however, it is one of the oldest. To trace its beginnings one must go back 172 years when the old town which for over 8 centuries had grown round its ancient Abbey by the banks of the River Cart, was compelled to expand eastwards to keep pace with the growth of the thread industry which was to make Paisley a household name throughout the world.

At that time many new Churches were built out of the bitterness of the controversy which dominated the ecclesiastical scene in the Scotland of those days. That was not the case with this congregation. The simple fact was that the demand for ‘sittings’ or pews in the High Church of Paisley had outgrown the ability of the town to provide them. Consequently a small group of Paisley business men decided to start a new congregation to meet the demand.. For some months in 1807 they met unofficially on Sundays for worship in the wood loft of a joiner’s yard in Lawn St. Encouraged by the response they decided to build a new Church in Thread St. and, in the meantime, applied to the Relief Synod of Glasgow for ministerial provision until the Church was completed. The work on the new building started in January 1808 and the Church was dedicated and opened for public worship on 10th October of the same year to accommodate 1000 persons, its name, the East Relief Church, Paisley. The first minister of the congregation, the Rev. James Thomson, D.D., became a prominent leader of the Relief Church and was appointed the first Professor of Theology, and the Church became the centre for the theological training of the ministers of the denomination, Always in the fore-front of far-seeing change and development the congregation eagerly embraced the union of the Relief and Secession Churches and became Thread Street United Presbyterian Church.

Again, in the cause of reconciliation the congregation cordially welcomed the union of the Free Church of Scotland with the U.P. Church in 1900 and changed its name but not its character to Thread St. United Free Church. Finally, when the Established Church of Scotland shook off the shackles of Establishment in 1929 the reconciliation was complete and the United Free Church once again joined with the Church of Scotland, by now both Established and free.

That might have been the end of the story if the development of the Town Centre of Paisley had not been embarked upon. Out of that has grown perhaps the most momentous development of all for this congregation. At first, it was envisaged that the new building should be part of the central complex. However, when the new housing development took place in Gallowhjll the Presbytery of Paisley proposed to the members of Thread St. Church that the new buildings should be built there instead of in the town centre, already grossly over churched.

True to the traditions of its past, the congregation responded and this new Church and congregation was constituted and dedicated for worship on 14th May, 1969, by Rev. D.F. MacDonald, M.A., Minister of Lylesland Church, a daughter congregation of Thread St. Church and an inspiring charge to the congregation was given by the Very Rev. R.Leonard Small, D.D.,, Minister of St. Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh and an ex—moderator of the Church of Scotland.

Fifteen years before this momentous day in the 1ife of the congregation the Church Extension Department of the Home Board of the Church of Scotland had opened in Priory Ave., a small wooden building to act as a Hall Church and to prepare the way for future Church development in the area. Under the supervision of Paisley Wailneuk Church and afterwards Paisley Abbey, a small congregation of loyal and devoted members gave a great service to the Church and all the people of the community and wrote their part in the history of Sandyford (Thread St.) Church.