Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church, Paisley

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Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church

Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church on a misty January day

On the Saturday 22 January 2011 RSCM Scottish Voices visited Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church in Paisley. My previous visit to this building was in March 1986 when sitting the final exams of my degree. Paisley College of Technology (now the University of the West of Scotland) use the hall underneath the church for lectures and examinations. More recently the church has been used for graduation ceremonies.


Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church stands at the west end of Paisley’s High Street opposite the University. It was built by the Coats family in memory of Thomas Coats. Thomas, who died in 1883, who was one of the founders of the world famous firm of thread manufacturers, J & P Coats Ltd. Thomas was also a devout Baptist Church member and a supporter of many local societies and charities.

Hippolyte J. Blanc, an Edinburgh based architect, who had previously designed St James Church in Underwood Road, Paisley was engaged to design the building – sometimes called the Baptist Cathedral of Europe. Created in redstone, the church is Gothic in design and has been completed with pointed arches, pinnacles and gargoyles. The building towers over the town’s skyline, being seen from many directions (for example when looking west along the High Street; and when entering the town from Glasgow Airport). The building is laid out in a cross fashion, incorporating a baptism pool (for total immersion) made from black veined marble. Crowning the chancel is a vaulted ceiling decorated with angels. On either side of the chancel can be seen some of the 3040 pipes of the Hill Organ which is considered to be one of the finest in Europe, although as pointed out whilst we were rehearsing the organ is devoid of a 32 foot stop.

As has been chronicled by LayClerk in the RSCM Scottish Voices blog the planned visit to Dunfermline had to be cancelled, so the opportunity was taken to visit Paisley following the cancellation of the planned visit in December 2010.

Despite the tradition of the church, however at their request, the service took the format of the Anglican Church Choral Evensong, under the direction of Director of Music – Frikki Walker – and accompanied by Richard Walmsley on the organ.

Period toilet

Period toilet

Turning back to the architecture of the building. Our attention was drawn to the period toilet off a corridor near the organ console. The smallest room features Victorian features, including orange tiles and a blue porcelain toilet with a wooden seat. The washbasin at the other side of the room complements the WC.

Author: Stewart

An instrumentation engineer who enjoys photography and singing. Working in the West of Scotland; a member of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow and Southwark Cathedral; and a volunteer guard/signalman on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales.

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