The congregation of this church was known as the Southern Reformed Presbyterian Congregation and their church was located on Salisbury Street, located in the south side of the city in the Laurieston area. (For more information on this area, see ‘Gorbals, Glasgow. Laurieston Guide‘ on the ScotCities website). The City Union Railway bought the building in 1868 and a new church was built on nearby Cumberland Street. Eight years later they joined the Free Church. (For more information on the history of this congregation, see ‘Glasgow — Renwick‘ on the Ecclegen website.)
The 1885-1888 minute book records the first meeting and the admission of this group of young men as a branch of the Glasgow United Young Men’s Christian Association (G.U.Y.M.C.A.). A Literary Association was already running in the First Southern Section of the G.U.Y.M.C.A. (‘Boundaries – On the North, the River Clyde. On the West, Eglinton Street’) since 1877 at least. This larger group met in the Class Room on 67 Cumberland Street (the G.U.Y.M.C.A. had sectional rooms at this address), just down the street from Renwick Free Church (27 Cumberland Street).
The group met weekly on Sunday evenings from September until the end of June to hear essays read, which were discussed afterwards. The meetings were closed with prayer and a collection was taken. In the late nineteenth century, there were about 50 members, which fell to 11 members in 1914. At a meeting held in September 1914, it was agreed to suspend the society for a year due to the fall in attendance. It does not appear that it was ever revived.
Interestingly, this society had a Strangers’ Committee as well as a Canvassing Scheme from at least 1887 that were started to induce the young men in the congregation to come to the meetings. Their efforts were reported to be very successful.
The association also had its own library. In the December 1887, it was reported that there were at least 150 volumes in the collection.
About the same time that the Renwick Free Church Branch was in operation, a Youths Reading and Recreation Club club was also running under the auspices of the Glasgow Foundry Boys Religious Society, South Cumberland Street Branch, which also met at the Renwick Free Church.
The decision to form the Renwick Free Church Literary Association (9 November 1889 – 1913?) was raised at a meeting of the Renwick Y.M.C.A. held on 20 October 1889 (‘Proceedings relative to formation of Renwick Free Church Literary Association, Saturday Evening 26th Octr. 1889’, Renwick Free Church Literary Association, Literary Association minutes, 1889-1892, p. 1).
Date of Existence
4 October 1885-7 September 1914
Source of Information
1. Renwick Church of Scotland, Glasgow United Young Men’s Christian Associations, Renwick Branch, minutes, 1885-88, 1888-90, 1890-93, 1895-97, 1897-1914 (GCA, TD396/35/1-5);
2. Robertson, John Macmillan, The rise and progress of the Southern Reformed Presbyterian Congregation: now called the Renwick Free Church; two lectures (Glasgow: James C. Erskine, 1887) (MLSC, Mitchell (GC) 285.241443 REN 159322)
Glasgow City Archives (GCA)
Mitchell Library Special Collections (MLSC)
(See Source of Information)