The church began as the South Free Church of Scotland when Rev Daniel Cormick, minister of the South Parish Church, which had recently been formed as a Quoad Sacra charge from the Barony ‘came out’ with most of his office-bearers and a large majority of the congregation in May 1843. This national event was known as “The Disruption”. The foundation stone was laid in 1843, and a church and schoolroom was built.
However, nearly 60 years later, the Minister of the day (Rev William Kirkpatrick) stated that, “the dangerous condition of the old building made a new church an absolute necessity”. Perhaps it had been built rather hastily, but for what ever reason, a giant leap of faith was taken in 1902 to raise funds for the new building. Such was the commitment of the congregation to the project, that it was started when only 68% of the total cost was raised.
In 1903, the new sanctuary was formally dedicated and opened by the then Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church, Rev Dr George Robson, MA, DD. Like his famous predecessor, Dr Alexander Whyte (who was born in Kirriemuir), he was a man of distinction and considerable ability.
Rumour has it that some coins were buried in the founds of the church, and that a 3-D model (presumably the architect’s scale model) was raffled in 1903, no confirmation of these facts have been found).
The Kirriemuir Observer and General Advertiser on Friday, 17th July 1903 reported:
THE NEW SOUTH U.F. CHURCH – A HANDSOME BUILDING
The new edifice is a handsome building, and architecturally, is a decided acquisition to the southern part of the burgh. The church contains sitting accommodation for about 400, and consists of a nave and two aisles and a small chancel, in which the pulpit is set. The pillars of the nave arcade and the chancel pillars and arch are of red Dumfriesshire stone. The pulpit and the panelling round the chancel are of cypress, somewhat richly treated, with traceried panels and carving. The other woodwork is of pitch pine, stained a dark oak colour. The walls are painted a soft French grey tint, and the ceiling is cream colour. Above the wall lining there is an ornamental band, with stencil patterns in rich colours. The gas-fittings are of hammered iron.
To the south of the church, and at a lower level, is the hall, which is capable of seating about 120 persons. The other accommodation provided consists of a class-room, vestry, heating chamber, kitchen, and lavatories, while there is a room in the tower or belfry, reached by a spiral staircase from the main porch.
The building is of local stone, with grey stone hewn work, and the roof is covered with green slates. The style is late Gothic, and the front to the street is richly treated, consisting of a gable flanked by massive buttresses, and a tower at the west side, rising to a height of about 60 feet. The gable contains three deeply-recessed traceried windows. The main doorway is in the tower, and has a richly-moulded and carved arched head. Messrs Thoms and Wilkie, Commercial Street, Dundee, were the architects and the work has been carried out by the following contractors:- Mason work, William Bennet, Dundee; joiner work, James Farquharson, Forfar; plumber work, William Milne & Sons, Forfar; plaster work, George Munro, Kirriemuir; slater work, A & C Shepherd, Forfar; glazier work, D Savege, Kirriemuir; painter work, J D Martin, Kirriemuir; stone carving, Charles Adamson, Dundee; smith work, John Oswald, Brechin; heating, Mackenzie & Moncur, Ltd., Edinburgh; gasfittings, the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft; pulpit and panelling, Thomas Justice & Sons, Ltd, Dundee. The clerk of works was Mr John Low, Dundee.
And so began a Century of Service for the building we know as St Andrew’s Church.
Over the years, the church and its buildings have been upgraded, but the interior has not changed dramatically, and the facilities at the rear have been modernised to accommodate a utility room, kitchen and toilet. Full details of the history of the church can be found in a church publication entitled, “Views of the Southmuir” published in 2004.