Histories of Parish and Village

Photos from days gone by

The Parish

St Paul's, Milton of Campsie:

The history of St Paul's, Milton of Campsie, is for the most part the history of St Machan's, Lennoxtown. Until the mid-1960s the villagers walked to Lennoxtown for Mass and other services. The first Mass in Milton was offered by Canon Michael Whelahan (Parish Priest of St Machan's, Lennoxtown) in the Village Hall on 10th July 1949, for the dedication of the War Memorial. However, it was not until 8th December 1965 that the celebration of Sunday Mass in Milton (again in the Village Hall) was begun on a regular basis.

William Canon McCabe
In 1967 Canon William Maccabe, the Parish Priest at St Machan's at that time, acquired the house and grounds at 16 Birdston Road. Father Michael (later Canon) McCullagh, Assistant Priest at St Machan's, moved in to take charge. A native of Belix, County Tyrone, he had been educated at St Mary's College, Blairs, and St Edmund's, Ware, and ordained in 1947 in St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, by Archbishop Andrew Joseph McDonald. Following appointments in Portobello and Dunfermline, he served as Assistant Priest at St Machan's before becoming the first resident priest in Milton of Campsie, in 1967.
In the presbytery grounds stood a building that had begun life, around 1909, as a grainstore and stable. Later it had been employed as a factory for the production of tartan cloth, for which purpose it was provided with four looms, two broadlooms and a winding machine. As well as tartan, it produced white twill and cloth for butchers' aprons, before closure around 1950. The weaving shed soon deteriorated into a very neglected state, but it was destined to become the first Catholic church building in Milton of Campsie. Father McCullagh organised a voluntary workforce of parishioners to convert it into a small church. The looms and other fixtures had already been removed, allowing the men to commence work immediately, although the low roof needed to be raised before work could begin in earnest. The volunteers transformed the building into a beautiful little chapel.
The modest, simple narrow building had seating for 150 worshippers. An altar table of solid oak was provided, and accommodation for the tabernacle was made available in the wooden panelling, up on the wall behind the altar. The name of "St Paul's" was chosen in recognition of the fact that the church at Lennoxtown had been known by that name from 1846 until 1881 (when it became "St Machan's"). The people of Milton of Campsie chose St Paul as their patron in tribute to their mother parish.
In September 1968 Archbishop Gordon Gray of St Andrews & Edinburgh formally blessed and opened the church at Milton. He praised the skill and industry of the volunteers in transforming the old building in a few short months. Canon Maccabe of Lennoxtown and Father McCullagh were also praised for their roles in establishing the church. At the con-celebrated Mass Archbishop Gray was assisted by Father Michael McCullagh, and by Father Charles Brodie, a former curate at Lennoxtown. After the solemn ceremonies were over the parishioners retired to the Village Hall, where they had an opportunity to meet and talk with the Archbishop. At the time Father McCullagh was quick to acknowledge the limitations of the new church, clearly intended as a temporary provision only. As he observed (as quoted in the Catholic Universe of 27th September 1968):
Our church is only temporary, as the villages of Milton of Campsie and Lennoxtown are re-scheduled for re-development as part of the Glasgow overspill. When that comes, a much bigger and permanent church will be required.
With this in mind, the congregation continued to make voluntary subscriptions, and the Parish Committee organised fundraising activities, including a wastepaper collecting service and monthly concerts, to boost the Development Fund.
Father McCullagh moved to Stoneyburn and was succeeded by Father John Archibald, a native of Loanhead who had been educated at Blairs and Propaganda Colleges and ordained in 1957, in Rome. After various appointments in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh he came to Milton of Campsie in April 1976.

(Above) Voluntary workers at St Paul's, Milton of Campsie.
Some of the male parishioners who worked to convert a former weaving shed into the first Catholic church in Milton of Campsie.

With the continuing growth of the village at that time, and a corresponding increase in the number of Catholics, the small church could no longer cope with the demands placed upon it—clearly a new church building was urgently required. In mid-1980 the Archdiocesan Finance Committee approved a plan for a church to be built by Lanner Ltd (who subsequently went into liquidation). Fleming Timber Buildings took over the project in December 1980 and began building operations (to a modified plan) on 15th June 1981.
The official opening of St Paul's, Milton of Campsie, took place on Monday 25th January 1982, with Cardinal Gordon Gray of St Andrews & Edinburgh in attendance. Other clergy present were Bishop James Monaghan, Fathers John Archibald, Michael McCullagh (preacher), Daniel Boyd, Dennis O'Connell, David Barr, Joseph Portelli, P.Capaldi, Michael Bell, S.Donohue, David Brown, Desmond Lynagh, Peter Gallacher and Edward Gallagher, and Monsignor James Brennan. Other invited guests included Provost Gerard McCormick of Strathkelvin District Council; Charles Kennedy (Community Councillor); A.McGregor (Clerk of Works); R.Murray (the Clerk of Works who began the project); J.Burrows (Managing Director of Fleming Timber Buildings); H.Allan (Designer); R.Etherson (Landscape Designer); John Carter & Alex Stirling (Plumbers & Electricians); Rev. Euphemia Irvine (Milton of Campsie Parish Church); Major Seymour (Salvation Army, Baldoran); Sister Bernadette McGinty and her Rev. Mother; Miss M.Meechan (Headteacher, St Machan's Primary School); Mr E.Connor (Hayes & Finch) and Mr & Mrs Paul Cortopassi (representing Mr & Mrs Francis Goldie of St Ninian's High School, Kirkintilloch). The organist was Miss Annie McGarrigle, with Father Ryscard Holuka as Master of Ceremonies.
After the Blessing of the Church and readings from St Paul (read by Andrew Gallagher and Pamela Murray), the first Resident Priest in Milton of Campsie, Father Michael McCullagh, gave a short history of Catholicism in the area. Father McCullagh told of the traditional links which the Catholics of Milton of Campsie had with Lennoxtown. The people had walked there from 1831, when Father Paul MacLachlan established a Mass Centre there, until their own Mass Centre had been set up in the Village Hall. Father McCullagh concluded by praising the parishioners and also the people and priests of St Machan's, for all their help, and asking God's Blessing for them. In his reply Cardinal Gray congratulated the parishioners on their hard work, patience and generosity. He said that he had been unable to visit the church during the building process and that it was a wonderful and delightful surprise to see the completed building. He added that it was a "lurking ambition" of many priests to build their own church, and although he had opened nearly 50, he had not had the opportunity to watch any "grow". The service continued with the Prayers of the Faithful, which were read by Martin Thompson, Geraldine Mclvor, Ella Young, Ken Fitzpatrick, John Burke and Hilda Slavin. The offertory gifts were brought forward by Jimmy Leeson, Elizabeth Hendrie, Jimmy Brinkins, Theresa Ridgeway, John Brown, Maureen McKenna, Julie Marsh and Lara Bartlett. Holy Mass followed, and after the solemn blessing and recessional hymn to St Paul refreshments were served in the old church, to conclude the evening's celebrations.

(Below) Opening of St Paul's, Milton of Campsie, in September 1968. Left to right: Father James Falconer; Archbishop Gordon Gray; Father Charles Brodie; Father Michael McCullagh; Canon McGarvie; Father Michael O'Connell; Canon Kelly and Father Peter Gallacher.

The main contractors were Fleming Timber Buildings of Lenzie. The roof is constructed from laminated timber beams, forming a pyramid, and is lined on the underside with Scandinavian parana pine timber boarding. It was the first church built by Flemings with this style of roof. The church's size and design suited the site, which is fairly restricted in area. The interior walls are of plasterboard, finished with emulsion paint and hessian featured panels at the altar. The tabernacle is placed on a small plinth. The altar table is made of wood and has an unusual and beautiful circular base, consisting of a wooden carving of the Last Supper. On the right-hand side of the altar there is a large crucifix and the electric organ. On the left there is a wooden baptismal font. The floor covering is of carpet and vinyl, with a tiled entrance way. The entrance porch has a cloakroom area. A direct entrance to the Sacristy leads off from the porch. The confessional, quiet room and principal entrance to the Sacristy are on the left-hand side of the church. The Stations of the Cross, which were taken from the old church and re-modelled by pupils at St Ninian's High School, Kirkintilloch, are all, unusually, on one wall above the quiet room. The older church now serves as a parish hall.

Newspaper articles to do with the opening of the Old Church

Newspaper articles to do with the opening of the New Church

Link to a history of St. Machan's Lennoxtown

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The Village

Milton of Campsie (or 'Milltown', as occasionally spelled) is thought to be a comparatively modern name, although some of the local mills were hundreds of years old. There were at least three corn mills near the village, all attached to large estates, namely Glorat, Lochmill (for Antermony Estate) and Frenchmill (for Kincaid). There were in addition at least two other mills, both lint mills for the processing of flax for the linen industry. Perhaps it was Fre nchmill, very close to the village, that gave rise to the 'Milton' name, although this is unclear.

A great leap forward took place in 1786, with the opening of a calico printing works at Kincaid. This signified an important change in the local textile industry, from linen to cotton. Kincaidfield, as it was known, was soon providing employment for a large number of workers, and the village of Milton began to grow significantly in size.

A second printfield was opened at Lillyburn during the 1790s. It was converted to a whisky distillery in 1826, but soon reverted to calico printing. Throughout the nineteenth century the local textile printing industry continued to flourish, but Kincaidfield closed in 1901 and Lillyburn in 1929. The works at Kincaid was demolished, but Lillyburn was converted to a pulp packaging manufactory, and continues to fulfil this function at the present time, although somewhat scaled down.

Milton of Campsie derived great benefit from the opening of a centrally-placed railway station in 1848, on a branch line built during that year from a junction on the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway, at Lenzie, to Lennoxtown. It served the village well for over a century, until closure in 1951, by which date, road transport options had been greatly improved.

Visitors to Milton today should perhaps make a point of visiting Kincaid House, the ancient seat of the Kincaids of that ilk. So much of Milton's history is closely linked to that of Kincaid. It was the Kincaid estate mill at Frenchmill that seems to have given the village its name, and it was on the Kincaid estate during the 1780s that the calico printing industry, so important to Milton's economy during the nineteenth century, was first established.

The owner of Kincaid estate during the 1830s, John Lennox Kincaid Lennox, inherited nearby Woodhead and combined the two estates. He built Lennox Castle to serve as an appropriate dwelling for the inheritor of extensive landed property.

When in the Lillyburn area, visitors should remember the important McNab family who once owned the calico printing works there. Alexander McNab (1819-97) was responsible for the supply of gas and running water to the village of Milton and provided funding for the building of a public hall, in 1887. His framed portrait can be seen at the hall, in Craighead Road. Another significant local family, the Stirlings of Glorat, still own the Glorat Estate.

God BlessYou!