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An ‘Intriguing Church’

John R Hume reflects on the ‘remarkably complex’ history of Neilston Parish Church.

THE parish of Neilston is in upland East Renfrewshire. It is traversed by the river Levern, which rises in Lochlibo, on the southern edge of the parish, and eventually flows into the White Cart Water. The valley of the Levern is the main route between Glasgow and Irvine, and also forms an easy route to Kilmarnock.

The parish was allocated in the 12th century, when the feudal system was introduced into lowland Scotland, to the Croc family. One of them, Robert Croc gave in the 1160s the revenues of the parish to the newly-established Priory (later Abbey) of Paisley. The parish has a high level of rainfall. This proved attractive to textile finishers and to cotton-spinners. The first cotton-spinning mill in the parish was the Dovecothall Mill (1780), in what is now the town of Barrhead.This was followed by mills at Gateside (1786), and Crofthead (1792), immediately below the existing village of Neilston, which was enlarged to house its workers. The original mill was destroyed by fire in 1883, but in 1881 a sewing-thread mill was founded on the site by the Glasgow firm of R F and J Alexander. Over the next few years this complex grew to a considerable size, and was in due course absorbed by the English Sewing Cotton Co Ltd. This was in turn taken over by what became Coats Viyella, and closed in 1993. The village of Neilston, on the hill above the mills, was expanded in the late-19th century by the building of rows of terraced housing. Neilston has remained a small village while Barrhead, once in its parish, has become a sizeable town.

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IN THIS ISSUE HOLIDAY CLUB MISSION The churches engaging with children during school holidays 'GOD'S GIFT TO THIS BEAUTIFUL, DAMAGED WORLD' Interview with Eco-Congregations Chaplain, the Rev David Coleman ASSEMBLY 2019 The week in words and pictures ...and much more