25th Anniversary of
Visit to Scotland
Dominic's Catholic Church, Torrance
Archives from The Kirkintilloch Herald
The Church of St Dominic's, Torrance, was built in 1903, but it
was not until 1981 that the Stirlingshire village itself became
a Catholic parish - a most unusual state of affairs, reflected
in the Scottish Catholic Directory entry "St Dominic's (1981,
1903)". This indicates that the Parish Mission was founded
as recently as 1981, and yet the church had been built back in
1903 - 78 years earlier! Although the village was the location
of the first Mass in Strathkelvin since the Reformation (in January
1831), Torrance did not maintain its importance as a Catholic
settlement. For most of its life it was overshadowed by the neighbouring
parishes of St Machan's,
Lennoxtown, and (later) St
Paul's, Milton of Campsie. Before the church was built in
1903, Torrance Catholics worshipped in part of the Caldwell Halls,
in the village. Holy Mass and Sunday School services were held
there once a month, later once a fortnight. Canon
Turner was the priest in lennoxtown at the time and was instrumental
in getting the church built. The church was erected by Speirs,
Dick & Smith, a firm who specialised in prefabricated buildings.
It had paraffin oil lamps and a coal-burning stove. The chimney
stack stretched up and out through an opening in the ceiling.
It was soon in use for weddings and funerals, as well as regular
services, but special services - First Communions and Confirmations
- were conducted at St Machan's, Lennoxtown, in the mother parish.
Until 1930 local Catholic children attended the Public School
in the village of Torrance, receiving religious instruction there
as well as from their parents at home. After 1930 they attended
St Machan's School, Lennoxtown, with Senior Secondary pupils proceeding
to St Ninian's High School, Kirkintilloch, while Junior Secondary
pupils remained at St Machan's until St Patrick's opened in Kilsyth.
After Tumbull High School opened in 1974, Torrance children were
zoned to attend there for secondary education (from the late 1970s).
Today (1995) the Catholic children of Torrance have the choice
of attending either St Ninian's, Kirkintilloch, or Turnbull High
St. Dominic's, Torrance, in original condition.
Although this prefabricated Church was built in 1903,
St Dominic's was not created a parish until 1981. Until
then the village was within St Machan's (Lennoxtown) Parish.
Despite having its own Catholic church, Torrance did not have
its own priest until Pentecost Sunday, 1979, when Father Daniel
Boyd was appointed. A native of Stenhousemuir, he had been educated
at St Modan's High School, Stirling, and Drygrange, before being
ordained in 1961. Following an appointment at St Ninian's, Edinburgh,
and further studies in Rome he moved to Ballingry before becoming
Professor at Drygrange. In 1970 he was appointed to St Machan's,
Lennoxtown, where he became a regular visitor to Torrance (the
village being attached to St Machan's Parish at that time). There
was much needing done to the church at Torrance, which was a prefabricated
building. Although brick-cladding and rough-casting work had been
carried out by voluntary workers in 1959 it lacked insulation,
to contain the heat inside. This was the first job tackled by
Father Boyd in 1979. The main entrance on School Road had a flight
of stairs, rendering it awkward for weddings and funerals. It
was decided to form an entrance porch, and also to construct a
bigger sacristy. The finished result is a much more accessible
entrance and additional space for vestments and sacred vessels.
In the original layout there were two sacristies, one on either
side of the sanctury. The left-hand sacristy was converted into
a quiet room, with a glass panel to enable those seated there
to view the sanctuary. The right-hand side is now a confessional,
and leads through to the new sacristy. A magnificent altar, of
carved wood, with ledges to display flowers and candles, takes
pride of place in the sanctuary. The central part, which has carved
wooden spires, houses the tabernacle (which came from St Joseph's,
Whitburn). Originally the altar had a table attached to it, but
this was removed in accordance with post-Vatican II liturgy, to
allow the priest to face the people. The altar table (which has
the Greek letters Alpha and Omega carved upon it), the altar chair,
and indeed all the seating, came from St Joseph's Church, Milngavie.
Above the altar there is an octagonal window: the cross is quasi-Cross
of Jerusalem, with one large red Cross and four small red crosses.
It provides a striking image above the sanctuary. A large crucifix,
from St Joseph's, Milngavie, hangs above the archway of the sanctuary.
The left-hand side of the church has a statue of the Sacred Heart,
while the right-hand side has one of Our Lady. Flowers and plants
adorn the Lady Altar. Near the entrance to the quiet room there
is a square wooden baptismal font, with a dove on the outside;
it came from the the Carmelite Convent, Dysart. Other gifts received
by St Dominic's include the hymn board and the notice board, from
St Joseph's, Whitburn, and the organ (situated at the back of
The Papal Blessing is prominently placed on the right-hand side
of the sanctuary. It was bestowed on St Dominic's in January 1981,
on the 150th anniversary of the first Mass said in Torrance. Cardinal
Gordon Gray concelebrated Mass with Father Daniel Boyd and Father
John Archibald (of Milton of Campsie). It was a great occasion
for Torrance, for at the same time St Dominic's was at last erected
as a parish in its own right, with Father Boyd as its first Parish
Priest. Cardinal Gray spoke about the origin of St Dominic's as
a parish, and how it had been an Irish labourer called Loughrey
whose activities had led to the first Mass being said exactly
150 years previously. Loughrey had come to Torrance to find work,
and with another man named Hume had taken out contracts from local
people. As his business had grown he had brought more labourers
from Ireland to the Campsie area. Father Boyd said that it was
only right to pay tribute to the efforts and co-operation of everyone
who had worked towards this great goal. During the ceremony of
the official erection of St Dominic's as a parish, Cardinal Gray
read a formal address authorising Mass to be said, the Blessed
Sacrament to be kept, and defining the boundaries of the parish.
Other clergy present on this special occasion included Fathers
Denis O'Connell of St Patrick's, Kilsyth; Thomas McAteer of St
Joseph's, Milngavie; John McAllister of St Machan's, Lennoxtown;
John Cunningham of St Columba's, Renfrew; and Michael McCullagh
of Our Lady's, Stoneyburn.
to the 150th Anniversary Order of Service
Link to Scottish
Catholic Observer's report of Fr. Boyd's Jubilee
Link to old Photos and Memories
of the Church
Link to a
history of St. Machan's, Lennoxtown
Back to the top
of Torrance Village
on a Wikipedia article on Torrance
Torrance is a village
in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, located 7 miles NE of Glasgow.
Home to around 3000 residents the town was once famous as a resting
place for workers on their way to the Campsie Fells 4 miles North.
The 2001 census registered a population of around 2,500.
The village contains a local school - Torrance Primary School
which has around 250 pupils and has a nursery unit attached.
The local Catholic Primary School is St. Machan's in Lennoxtown.
The local secondary schools are : Boclair Academy in Bearsden
and Turnbull RC High in Bishopbriggs.
There are two churches in the village; Torrance Parish Church and St Dominic's.
The name comes from the Gaelic An Toran.
The village of Torrance is situated in a local area known for
centuries as 'The Eleven Ploughs of Balgrochan'. The Eleven
Ploughs were part of the estate of the Grahams of Mugdock (Milngavie).
They received their name in 1630 when Montrose, the great military
leader of the Covenanting period, sought to raise money for
his campaigns by feuing off part of the Mugdock lands. The 'Eleven
Ploughlands' were feued off to local occupiers willing to pay
a grassum (lump sum) on the understanding that their annual
rate of duty would be held at a moderate level. Three of the
Ploughlands were at Carlston, four at Easter Balgrochan and
four at Wester Balgrochan. "The eleven ploughs o' Balgrochan
were acquired at that time By eleven sturdy carles, as they
ca'ed them lang syne"
The feuars originally held their land in run-rigs, running
down in long strips southwards to the River Kelvin. In 1735,
however, each feuar received an enclosed piece of land, in line
with the widespread drive towards land enclosure at that period.
Coal and lime continued to be worked in common, but ironstone
rights were allocated to individual ploughland proprietors.
Some time after the enclosures of 1735, the village of Torrance
began to develop. Some of the earliest inhabitants were 'country
weavers', weaving linens or woollens in association with local
farming activity. Around this time, also, the extraction of
limestone, coal and ironstone began to emerge as a local industry
of some significance. During the late eighteenth century the
improvement of local roads and the opening of the Forth &
Clyde Canal, with a wharf at Hungryside, provided routes to
market for local agricultural and mineral production.
When the Eleven Ploughs were feued off by Montrose in 1630,
the large meal mill at Balgrochan was at the same time feued
to a Robert Ferrie. Three hundred years later the mill was still
grinding corn and celebrating three centuries of Ferrie family
ownership. In 1933, however, it was closed and sold to a Glasgow
firm for the manufacture of talcum powder. The mill wheel at
Balgrochan was said to be the second largest in Scotland. It
was cut up for scrap in 1949.
The canal wharf at Hungryside remained for many years as Torrance's
principal link with the outside world. In 1879, however, a station
was opened at Torrance by the Kelvin Valley Railway Company
and the village, somewhat belatedly, was linked to the national
rail network. It might have been thought that Torrance would
then have developed as a commuter dormitory for Glasgow, but
the influx of new residents was slow in arriving. Indeed it
was not until after the railway was closed to passengers in
1951 that commuting began in earnest. During the mid-1970s,
for example, Comben Homes built at Red Bog Farm and Henry Boot
Homes built a considerable number of houses at Meadowbank and