ST BRIDGET'S BAILLIESTON R.C. CHURCH
15, Swinton Road, Baillieston
Reproduced with the kind permission of Gordon Adams -
The Roman Catholic Church of St. Bridget is located in Baillieston, within the Diocese of Motherwell. It takes its name from the contemporary of St. Patrick, known as the “Mary of the Irish”.
Although the Catholic Church was allowed to re-establish itself officially within Scotland from the late 18th century, it met with the same difficulties in doing so that the Reformed Church experienced following the Reformation – not all localities could be served immediately. The few Catholics in Baillieston initially had to trek the 4 miles through rugged countryside to St. Mary’s in Calton until the establishment of St. Patrick’s in Coatbridge allowed a lesser journey. Baillieston was then attached to the Mission of St. Paul’s at Eastmuir when it opened in 1857.
In June, 1872 Father George McBrearty of St. Paul’s acquired an acre of land at Baillieston known as Broadlees which had a stable sited on it. With the financial support of the locals, this stable was converted for use as a chapel-school, and by Christmas Day, 1874 the first Mass was celebrated. It was soon established as a mission in its own right, and in 1879 Father Peter Terken came to Baillieston.
It was under the auspices of Father Terken that the stable church was replaced by 1880, and two years after that the present Presbytery was added. In 1891 Pugin & Pugin were engaged to design a new church with construction being completed by 1893. This is the church which continues to serve the Baillieston community at the present time. It is typical of the Early Decorated Gothic style favoured by Pugin & Pugin in the churches which they built in the Glasgow area.
Externally, the church is of rock-faced blond sandstone, with a steeply pitched roof of slate. Most of the eastern gable is taken up by a very large, traceried window. Below this, is a niche containing a statue of St. Bridget, and beneath that is the double-doorway entry.
The interior is richly decorated and brightly lit by a large number of windows distributed throughout the building. The nave is separated from the aisles by arcades of octagonal pillars, and there is an open timber roof. The Sacred Heart and Lady side chapels are heavily ornamented in varying colours of marble, with inlay of mosaic. Stained glass was added to the windows of these chapels in the 1940s by the John Hardman Studios.
The chancel is dominated by a sculpture of the risen Christ, above which is an original Rose Window with stained glass depicting the Creation. The initial arrangement of the altar with reredos was replaced by the present furnishing following the Second Vatican Council, at which time the altar was also brought forward so that the Mass could be said facing the congregation.
It was intended that the church have an elaborate tower with spire to its North-East, but this was never built. It did later gain a belfry and an organ. The most recent acquisition is the stained glass window in the south aisle, made by Shona McInnes, which is dedicated to the memory of Canon Daniel Hennessy, parish priest from 1975-95. The window depicts the church’s namesake, St. Bridget, along with St. Colmcille.
© 2005 Gordon Adams