Rev. Robert B. Wiseman

Rev. Robert B. Wiseman
1909 - 1928

Rev. James Youngston

Rev. James Youngston
1928 - 1931

Rev. Matthew R. Drysdale

Rev. Matthew R. Drysdale
1931 - 1940

Rev. Gavin S. Brown
1941 - 1949

History of St. John's Parish Church

St. John's as a congregation was formed in 1899 and was originally an extension of Kirkcaldy Old Parish Church.

Along with the Sunday School, they met in the Caledonian Mills of Mr. Robert Wemyss in Prime Gilt Box Street and decided to build a new Church to hold the growing congregation from the newly built factories and near-by flats.

After much fund raising, the foundation stone was laid by the Moderator of the General Assembly, Rt. Rev. J. Mitford Mitchell on 25th September 1907 on the corner of Meldrum Road and Elgin Street, land owned by the Oswalds of Dunnikier. At this time the Church was almost outside the town with green fields surrounding the site.

St. John's Parish Church Original Building
The original St. John's Parish Church building

The new Church, shown above, was built in a gothic style and was complete by 1908 at a cost of £3,981.

The builder was Alex Fraser with glaziers Carron & Co, plumbers Laing & Co and slater Currie under the supervision of Mr William Williamson the Architect.

The foundation stone contained two glass bottles holding various papers. During the first year, four goblets were presented to the Church by Mrs Alex Hutchison and they are still in use today. They are inscribed "To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Alexander Hutchison, Provost of Kirkcaldy 1896-1902".

The original building did not include the gallery, the chancel or the transept which was eventually built to the right of the Church entrance.

The first minister was the Rev. Robert Wiseman who steered the Church for the next nineteen years. During this time, a gallery was added, at a cost of £400, and the manse was acquired.

Rev. Wiseman and his sister were the inspiration behind generations of children's participation in choral work with many works performed at the then named Adam Smith Halls.

After the 1st World War a Memorial Tablet was erected "for our members who have fallen in the great war" with a service attended by local armed forces.

In 1919 the first organist and choirmaster were appointed.

The 1920s

Communion SilverwareA silver flagon was presented to the Church by Mrs Saunders and her daughters in 1920 and is still used today during communion services. It is inscribed "To the Glory of God and in loving memory of John and Adam Saunders who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War of 1914-18". An additional cup and salvers were purchased in 1923 and dedicated to those lost in the Great War.

A marble memorial to the fallen in the Great War was unveiled at a special service on 22nd August 1920. The Order of Service included a picture of the memorial (which was subsequently lost in a fire in 1975).

1923 saw the Church 'electrified' with the cost again being met by the Church members.

In 1924, application was made to Boys' Brigade HQ to set up the 4th Company Boy's Brigade at St. John's. This was agreed and the platoon was founded in 1925 under the guidance of Rev. Wiseman. The Boys' Brigade grew over the years until it was once the largest in the area.

The next major events occurred with a new minister, the Rev. James Youngson in 1928. He came to St. John's from Nelson in British Columbia, Canada, and returned there after two years as minister of the First Presbyterian Church.

On 4th November 1929, a branch of the Women's Guild was formed with Mrs Youngston being the first president.

St. John's before the Halls were built
St. John's before the Halls were built
Visit The Photo Gallery View pictures of the original Church building

The 1930s

In 1931 the new chancel was dedicated, and soon after the Church halls were opened.

Elgin Street Side Of St. John's Original Building
Elgin Street side of St. John's original building

The next minister was Rev. Matthew Drysdale who was appointed in 1931. During this year a new electric organ was installed at a cost of £500.

In December 1934 the Girl Guides and Brownies were formed at St. John's with Mrs Ina Pow as their leader.

The 1940s

Sadly, Rev. Drysdale drowned in the River Leven at Leslie in 1940.

In 1941, Rev. Gavin Brown was ordained and led the Church with many activities such as the Youth Fellowship and Bible Study. He also organised many walks along the coast or up local hills, always traveling by public transport.

During the 2nd World War, the Church hall was requisitioned and installed with beds and seats to accommodate air raid victims. The Woman's Guild helped out with canteens for servicemen and women in the nearby YMCA building.

By 1949, St. John's was a thriving community with many organisations and rising membership. Along with a Sunday School of 270 children there were Bible Class, Youth Fellowship, Boys' Brigade, Girl Guides, Brownies and the Girl's Association all for the young. The Men's Association, Women's Guild, Mothers & Young Children meetings and a Work Party were all well attended.

Kirkcaldy Old Kirk

On the left is a picture of Kirkcaldy Old Kirk, the original home of St. John's congregation. There are fine views from the Church tower on special open days.

Selection of the Church location

The following reasons were given by Kirkcaldy Parish Church in a Church newsletter from April 1899 for the "Proposed Church Extension in the District of Balsusney Road".

  • There was now a population of 3,600, even perhaps 4,000 beyond the railway.
  • It had been found that of the Presbyterian population there, a majority belonged to the Church of Scotland.
  • Of these, a number had come from various parts of the county and had yet no definite local Church connection.
  • Of the Parish Churches in the burgh, Abbotshall had more communicants than sittings, Pathhead, St. James and Invertiel were full; there was difficulty in providing for new families.
  • It was the view of the Home Mission Committee that the present Kirkcaldy Parish Church could not provide for the large and increasing population in the part of the parish beyond the railway. 'Even if we had fullest power over our pews, people will not go so far for accommodation. We have enough to do to get many to go to Church on any terms. They will not go unless it is at hand'

Move to 1950-1968 ...