IN 1957, the Telegraph carried a feature about a ‘summer’ church that came to stay.

The article related to the centenary celebrations of St Bartholomew’s Scottish Episcopal Church in Barrhill Road, Gourock.

What led to the church’s creation was an advertisement in 1855 which stated: “Temporary services at Gourock. With the view of affording the members of the Episcopal Church resident in Gourock the opportunity of attending divine service during the summer months, the incumbent of St John’s, Greenock, gave notice on the 19th ult, that he had engaged the room of the School of Industry in Gourock for a given period, and purposed (DV) meeting them for public worship therein, on every Lord’s Day, at half past two o’clock commencing from Sunday, the 24th June, until further notice.” In addition to permanent residents, the services were aimed at the numerous holidaymakers who visited Gourock, some likely spending a number of weeks each year.

In 1856, the Rev Samuel Pratt became Priest-in-Charge. Two laymen were prominent in the founding of St Bartholomew’s and the appointment of Mr Pratt. They were Captain Frere, RN, and Benjamin Noble.

According to the Telegraph feature of 1957, it was never anticipated that the church would be continued, as Mr Pratt was only licensed by the Bishop for six months, the view being that summer services were all that were required. But the church grew beyond all expectations.

Money was donated from a wide variety of sources to continue the services, and sufficient was received to start building a permanent church, which would eventually cost around £700. Subscribers included the Liberal statesman William Ewart Gladstone, MP, who was a benefactor to many Episcopalian churches.

On 14 July, 1857, the church was consecrated by the Right Reverend Charles Wordsworth, DD, Bishop of St Andrews, acting for the Bishop of Glasgow, It was dedicated to St Bartholomew.

Despite its vigorous start, St Bartholomew’s ran into problems from 1862 after the incumbent Rev H Kennedy left the area as did Captain Frere, Mr Noble and several other prominent members.

The loss of subscriptions meant that for the next 15 years the church was only open for one or two months, served by summer chaplaincies.

Fortunately, it would enjoy better times when new residents came to Gourock and joined the congregation. Playing a significant role in the rebirth were two newcomers — A P Robertson and Mr Robb. The latter became organist and a churchwarden, while Mr Robertson’s financial generosity allowed the appointment of a clergyman, the Rev Wilfred Leveson, MA.

St Bartholomew’s Scottish Episcopal Church remains a place of worship to this day, nearly 160 years after its consecration.

The accompanying photographs come from a booklet produced for the church’s centenary celebrations.