St Paul's Church was opened for worship in November 1881. It
was built because the existing Parish Church (built in 1813 in Church Street was
becoming too crowded, and some of the Manufacturers in the Woollen Industry
wanted to worship in a grander church. A site of one acre was acquired from the
Polices of the Laird of Gala in Scott Crescent, and plans were drawn up by Mr
Hay (of Hay and Henderson in Edinburgh) in 1875.
Work began in the spring of 1878 by the Galashiels firm of
Messrs. Hall and Murray and it was finished by J. & J. Hall, also of Galashiels.
The steeple of 190` was subsequently added. In 1899 much of the ornamentation on
the steeple became dislodged during a gale.
The Church is early-decorated Gothic, and it cost £13,000 (not including the
organ & spire). Most of the money was subscribed and included £1,700 for the
Baird Trust, with just £1,500 owing at the opening. The retiring collection at
that first Service raised £1,000. Outside, the stonework is of red sandstone, inside, grey
sandstone mixed with red sandstone mouldings. There is no lath & plaster - the
stones are cleanly chiselled and close set.
Inside there is a nave, 2 aisles & transepts. The length is
83` and the width across the nave 58`. The transepts measure 82` and the breadth
of the transepts themselves is 40`.
The height from the floor to the wall plate of the nave is
36` and the height to the apex of the roof is 62`. The roof is open timberwork
and the nave is supported on pillars of polished pink Peterhead granite with
carved freestone capitals and moulded bases. Double rows of 5 granite pillars
divide the nave from the aisle and double rows strike off at right angles to the
transept. The pillars are higher than the nave and have bands of polished dark
blue granite. They are crowned with Corinthian pillars.
The seats are made of pitch pine and the pews have open ends,
to accommodate 950 people, allowing each person 18``. The pulpit was originally
connected to the Organ screen, but in the refurbishment of the Church in 1948,
it was moved to the right and the organ console to the left transept. Beneath
the organ pipes is a cabled canopy of oak, the arches of which contain 12
figures of angels bearing antique instruments. The shields of the panels bear
the Scottish lion, the Burgh Arms, the Manufacturers Corporation Arms, and that
of the Scotts of Gala. The choir stalls have carved stall ends and haffers of
poppy heads. Francis Lynn of Galashiels did all the carving.
The aisles are mosaic pavements by Hawley of Edinburgh set at
intervals with monograms and hieroglyphics of sacred subjects.
There are several stained and coloured glass windows,
including a Strachan - in memory of Dr. Lamb, at the beginning of the 20th
century, he was a much - loved Assistant Minister. The largest window occupies
much of the North Wall - The Good Samaritan - gifted from Miss Arabella Douglas,
the youngest child of Dr. Robert Douglas, Minister of the Parish in the early
1800s who set Galashiels Wool Trade on its feet.
The Organ is a `Father` Willis, the second organ to be installed in a
Galashiels Church, and at the Opening Service, for the first time the
Congregation stood to sing and sat to pray. In 1948 when the console was moved
to the left transept, the
Willis Company rebuilt it. The organ was overhauled once more
The Porch and suite of halls was added in the 1920s as a War
Memorial to those who died in World War 1. Plaques in the porch commemorate
those who died in both World Wars. Much of the money was gifted by the Shultze
family of Brunswickhill who lost 2 members of their family in the conflict.
Above the porch door there is a carving Le Beau Dieu - an exact copy of that
above the door to Amiens Cathedral.
During World War 2, the halls were requisitioned by the War Department. It was
intended to turn the large hall into a hospital should it be required -
fortunately it was not needed.
St Paul's Church was the first Church in Galashiels actually
to have replacing the Old Parish Church in Church Street which was closed in
1931 and demolished in 1960. During the time 1881 - 1931, the Old Parish and St
Paul's Churches were served by the Parish Minister and his Assistant. Each
church had its own Morning Service but the Evening Service was held in St
In 1962 the Boys Brigade created a Chapel, using part of the
original hall immediately behind the Church. Much of the work was done
voluntarily and costs kept to a minimum, thanks to the organisation of the then
Captain Mr. Jim Mills.
St Paul's Church replaces the Old Parish Church which was
built in 1813 in turn to replace the previous Parish Church which was built in
1622. That Church stood at right angles to the Scott Aisle in the Old Churchyard
at the end of Church Street. It was a typical rectangle with lofts on the upper
floor for all the Trades and the Laird. The ordinary people brought stools or
benches to sit on. The Church at that time exerted tremendous authority and
those who stepped out of line were suitably rebuked from the pulpit. For any
scandal they had to stand at `the pillar`, sometimes dressed in sackcloth. There
was even a pair of jougs set in the wall outside the door as an ultimate
punishment. The Manse was built opposite the Church and the Minister had the
right to graze sheep and cows in the graveyard.
Preceding this Church was Boleside - in existence for about
30 - 40 years following Lindean Church which closed shortly after the
Reformation, although the graveyard was in use for sometime afterwards.
Seat Rents were used from 1881 - late 1960s. Dear seats were
at the back in the centre. Cheaper seats near front. Left Transept was Laird of
Gala's workers. Manse pew used to be at back of Right Transept. When the seats
were first allocated - those using the seat paid for the cushion!
continues in the Church to the present day with the fitting of a new stained
glass window in October 2003. This window was gifted to the Church by the
Scottish College of Textiles to celebrate the long link between the old College
(now the Scottish Borders Campus of Heriot Watt University) and the town of Galashiels.
It was designed by the artist Eilidh Keith of Glasgow whose design links themes
from the textile trade with Biblical reference. The central portions are the
virtuous women of Proverbs 31, celebrating clothing manufacture, and Lydia the
seller of purple in Acts, celebrating the dyeing industry.