The Ministers of Uphall South Church
The Free Church Mission Hall, opened in 1894, had been raised to a Preaching Station in 1897 with many missionaries leading worship through the years. On 30 May 1898, the Free Church Assembly sanctioned the Preaching Station as a Full Charge. For the members of the Preaching Station, the next step of the journey was to elect and induct their first minister. Rev George Millar was elected, becoming the first in a list of inspirational ministers who have served this congregation and community.
George Millar(1898 - 1904)
Born 19 May, 1872 at Dundee, Angus, George Millar was the son of George Millar, Grocer, and Jessie Rennie. Educated at Edinburgh University and U.P. Theological Hall, before attending university he worked as a clerk in Dundee. Called to the Preaching Station in 1897, Mr Millar received unanimous support from the congregation at the election of a minister for the new full charge. At the close of the evening service on 12 June 1898, the members met and Mr William Peat moved that Mr Millar be elected saying they "got good from his preaching, recognised his ability and believed in his earnestness and zeal". The motion was seconded by Mr William Liddle, supported by Mr Paterson and Mr David Rankine. Mr Millar was ordained and inducted on 2 August, 1898 and was presented with pulpit robes by the congregation. He was our first minister. During his ministry, the number of members increased. It was noted in 1902 that there were 129 on the Roll, nearly double the 1898 Roll. Mr Millar had been living at Bloomfield, Uphall and when Fortneuk Manse was built he, his mother and sisters moved into the new Manse.
In March 1904, Mr Millar was called to Paterson U.F. Church, Kirkwall, Orkney, the members there voting 216 votes to 42. He married Agnes Downie on 14 March 1907 and they had two children.
During World War 1, Mr Millar served as an army chaplain. In a letter home to his wife, he mentions Uphall and the twenty years that had passed since his first sermon at the Mission Hall. It was in this letter he wrote, "What will the fruit of it all be?". Mr Millar had been on chaplaincy duty for four months in France when he fell ill. Sadly, he died of Peritonitis after an operation on 26 August 1917. He was 45 years. Mr Millar is buried in the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France, his headstone bearing the inscription, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want".
Robert Greig Buchanan Millar(1904 - 1915)
Born 12 April 1877 at Edinburgh, R.G.B. Millar was the son of Patrick Millar, Draper, and Agnes Taylor.
Educated at Daniel Stewart's College and the University of Edinburgh, including Divinity Hall, he was successful in gaining several bursaries. After gaining his Bachelor of Divinity in 1900, he became assistant at East Bank, Hawick, involved mainly with "the non-churchgoing". The minister and Missionary Committee, delighted with his work, asked him to carry on for another year. Licensed by Hawick Presbytery in 1901, shortly after Mr Millar moved to Hill of Beath Mission Station, Fife, working with the miners. Mr Millar was serving as assistant in McCrie-Roxburgh Church, Edinburgh when he was called to Uphall. The call was unanimous and his ordination and induction took place on 20 October 1904.
Mr Millar was described as "a jovial personality who endeared himself to the congregation and village folk alike". His zeal for pastoral work saw him cycling round the district to visit his parishioners and those in need. He loved being in Sunday School and working with the young folk of the church.
During his ministry, a Presbytery visit identified a small hall was needed for meetings. A vestry was built at a cost of around £150 and is still in use today as a storage area(auld kitchen).
Shortly after his induction, Mr Millar married Annie Davie at Edinburgh in 1905 and three of their children were born at the Manse. For the first time, the walls of Fortneuk heard the cries and laughter of children of the Manse.
Mr Millar was called from Uphall to Drumpellier U.F. Church, Coatbridge in July, 1915. When he left Uphall, the Roll had grown to 204. After a number of charges in the south, Mr Millar moved north to Aberdeenshire. His final charge was Kennethmont, Aberdeenshire, where he spent twelve years before retiring in May 1948.
Mr Millar passed away on 4 May, 1956, aged 79 years of Cerebral Thrombosis.
David McDougall(1915 - 1922)
Born 22 December 1889 , David McDougall was the eldest son of Robert McDougall, Plasterer, and Jane Mackay.
Educated at Glasgow University and Glasgow U.F. Theological College, he gained a number of bursaries and prizes. On leaving the College, he was awarded the Clark Fellowship. Later, he continued his education, gaining a Ph.D. in 1937.
His first assistantship was in the East Church, Johnstone, and his second in High U.F. Paisley. Mr McDougall was then called to Uphall and ordained and inducted on 18 November, 1915. The next year saw Mr Dougall marrying Elizabeth H.H. Dow on 19 April 1916 at Blytheswood, Glasgow
In June 1922, Mr McDougall received a call to Martyr's U.F. Church, Glasgow, later accepting a call from Dalry U.F. Church, Edinburgh. He retired from Dalry on 18 January, 1960.
Mr McDougall was a keen worker for the Temperance Movement and, during his time at Uphall, he and his committee were responsible for curtailment of licences in Uphall. Towards the end of his ministry, the congregation identified lack of space to worship. The Roll in 1921 was 240, rising to 272 in 1922. Plans for raising money to fund a new church were given importance by Mr McDougall and the congregation.
Mr McDougall was gifted in the written language and he used this gift as an author and playwright. He wrote tracts for the Stirling Tract Enterprise and, through this Enterprise, published a booklet to mark the anniversary of George Wishart being burnt at the stake in 1746. With a great love for the Jewish people, he wrote plays for the Jewish Women's Committee including "The Wailing Wall" and "Abraham and the Idols". He also wrote the "Story of Jew Baiting" for the Church of Scotland Jewish Committee. In 1936 he became editor of the Jewish Mission Quarterly, and five years later, his book, "In search of Israel" was published. One of his best known works is the story of Jane Haining, which was republished in 1998. Uphall was not forgotten with "The Two Churches" being penned to be included in the church semi jubilee booklet in 1923. Mr McDougall continued writing throughout his life becoming editor of Bulwark, the newsletter of the Scottish Reformation Society, in 1950.
Mr McDougall passed away four years after retirement, on 19 August 1964, aged 74 years of Broncho pneumonia.
Alexander Macpherson(1922 - 1929)
Born 13 May 1889 at Coltness Mains Farm, Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, Alexander Macpherson was the son of Donald Macpherson, Farmer, and Catherine Petrie.
The family moved to London Street, Edinburgh around 1896, and attended St Mary's Church. Graduating from Edinburgh University with a degree in Arts and Pure Science, Mr Macpherson was appointed as a lecturer in Pure Science at the Agricultural College. As a Territorial, in 1914, he was called up with the Lothian and Border Horse, then commissioned in the Scottish Horse before being transferred to the Field Gunners. After the war, Mr Macpherson went to New College to take his B.D.. There, he won the Senior Cunningham Fellowship, an award to the most distinguished student in his year. After graduating, Mr Macpherson then travelled to Canada to take part in mission work, arriving in March 1921. His destination was Cardston, Western Alberta and he served there for about six months, returning to Scotland in October of the same year. After being assistant in Chalmer's Territorial Church, Edinburgh, Mr Macpherson was ordained and inducted to Uphall U. F. Church on 8 November 1922. Mr Geddes, Session Clerk, said, “after ordination came induction and then came presentation”. Mr Macpherson was presented with pulpit robes and a Bible. Two of the oldest members of the congregation, Mrs Muir and Mrs Peat, placed the robes upon Mr Macpherson.
During his ministry, the congregation marked their semi Jubilee. One of Mr Macpherson's priorities was the new church. Committees were formed and fundraising began. In the semi Jubilee booklet of 1923, Mr Macpherson wrote, " Now we, in Uphall, are preparing to do some of that mountaineering which life sometimes brings our way". Mr Macpherson and the congregation became mountaineers. To save money, Mr Macpherson, elders, deacons and members of the congregation removed trees and dug foundations. Having experience of agriculture meant Mr Macpherson was not afraid of physical hard work. The mountain climbed, the new church was built and dedicated on 10 June, 1926.
Free Will Offering envelopes were introduced during Mr Macpherson's ministry and continue to be in use today at Uphall South.
It was a sad day for the congregation when Mr Macpherson was called to Mount Park Church, Greenock in June, 1929. Mr Macpherson never married, however one of his sisters supported him in his ministry.
Mr Macpherson passed away on 14 January 1954, aged 64 years, of Liver Cancer.
Donald McArthur Chalmers(1929 – 1937)
Born 27 June 1901 at Kinning Park, Lanarkshire, Donald McArthur Chalmers was the son of Robert Chalmers, Quay Traffic Superintendent, and Jessie McArthur.
Educated at Glasgow University and Trinity College , Mr Chalmers became the missionary in St Vincent Street U.F. Church, Glasgow, before moving as assistant in Renfield U.F. Church, Glasgow. Called to Uphall, he was ordained and inducted on 25 September, 1929 - his election had been only three weeks and four days after the departure of Mr Macpherson. The congregation continued their tradition and presented their new minister with pulpit robes, whilst he was presented with books from the Sunday School by Master Willie Peat, Miss Lena Brownlee and Master David Tweed. As Mr Chalmers came from the United Free Church, Mr Fleming, Session Clerk, took the opportunity to tell of the interesting history of Uphall South Church.
The year following his induction, Mr Chalmers married Mary Yuill at Glasgow. and Fortneuk Manse became their first home.
During his ministry, he served as Moderator of the Presbytery of Bathgate and Convener of the Youth Committee. His experience of working in Glasgow and his love of youth work resulted in more young people coming along to church. The Choir increased from having six young people to having twenty. New organisations were started within the church including the Dramatic Society and Uphall South Football Team.
Recognition of his preaching ability came in 1931 when Mr Chalmers was invited to conduct a preaching tour in the USA. He preached in a number of well known churches, including the famous Fifth Avenue Church, New York. Returning home, he hosted an evening social to tell the congregation of his travels.
Mr Chalmers translated to Carrick Knowe, Edinburgh on 20 November 1937. This was a new challenge, a church extension charge which gained full status in May 1942. He retired from Carrick Knowe on 28 February 1971. Mr Chalmers passed away on 7 December 1974 at Dunoon.
Frank(Francis) Clark(1938 - -1941)
Born 14 October 1912 at Stirling, Frank Clark was the son of William Clark, Cabinet Maker, and Mary Bennett. His father was an elder at Alloa West Church.
Educated at Dollar Academy and St Andrew's University, he became assistant in St Mary's Church, Govan for two years before being called to his first charge of Uphall South The call was signed by 208 members and 26 adherents. Mr Clark was so popular that five buses with 150 people travelled from Govan for Mr Clark's induction on 9 March 1938.
World War 2 changed life for everyone and Mr Clark was no exception. He was appointed Head Air Raid Warden for Uphall in May 1939 and organized fortnightly meetings and training exercises as the country prepared for war. Then, in October 1939, Mr Clark told the Kirk session he had applied for a commission as a chaplain to H. M. forces. In November 1940, he was ordered to report, and left on 4 December. The following year, August 1941, Mr Clark wrote to Bathgate Presbytery asking for "release of the care of the church and parish of Uphall South as he was facing an indefinite period of absence". He demitted 18 October 1941.
Mr Clark is remembered as being a modest man, friendly and always willing to help. Although Mr Clark's time with Uphall South was short, there was also good news. Returning from war in 1945, he married Georgina Chalmers, a member of Uphall South congregation!
Mr Clark was called to Dunlop Laigh Church, Ayrshire(1947), then Perth Letham(1953) and finally Carnoustie St Stephen's(1957). He retired on 28 Feb 1983.
Sadly, Mr Clark had a short retirement, passing away on 4 November 1983, aged 72 years.
George Imrie Francis(1942 - 1945)
Born 25 September 1910, at Stirling, George Imrie Francis was the son of Peter McK. Francis, Wood Sawyer(Journeyman), and Janet W. Imrie.
Before taking up his studies for the ministry, Mr Francis worked as a clerk for L.M.S. Railway Company, Stirling.
He graduated with honours in 1938 from Edinburgh University and then studied at New College. Mr Francis served as missionary assistant in Kingscavil, part of St Michael's, Linlithgow for two years before being
licensed by the Presbytery of Stirling and Dunblane in April 1941. He then moved to another St Michael's, this time in Edinburgh, and it was from here that he received the unanimous call to Uphall South. Mr Francis was ordained and inducted to Uphall South on 11 March 1942.
Unknown to the congregation, Mr Francis had a well kept secret. Two weeks before his ordination and induction, he married Elizabeth McLeod, at St Michael's Linlithgow. Reporting on fashion is not a modern idea. The Linlithgow Gazette, 6 March 1942, reported, " The bride wore a dress of emerald green under a silver grey clipped coat. Her hat was black with emerald green feathers. She wore black slippers and held a spray of pink carnations". After coffee at the Golden Cross Cafe with the Linlithgow minister, Rev. C. N. Rutherford, the bridal party went on to have luncheon at the North British Hotel, Edinburgh. Although a "well kept secret", Mr Mrs Francis received telegrams of congratulations from the Kirk Session and the Women's Guild.
During his ministry at Uphall, the Men's Club, formed in Autumn 1942, took on the task of redecorating the Church Hall. An anonymous donation started an organ fund and a pipe organ was purchased from the former U.F. Church at Ballater. Overhauled and rebuilt, the organ was consecrated by our fourth minister, Rev Alex. Macpherson, on 9 January, 1944. 1944 also saw individual communion cups being used for the first time at the May Communion.
Mr Francis translated to Woodside North, Aberdeen(1945), then Peterhead West Associate(1954) and Shotts Calderhead(1963). He demitted from Calderhead in 1972 to take up a post in teaching.
Mr Francis passed away on 11 November 1984.
Thomas Elliott McClements(1945 - 1949)
Born 7 August 1898 at Coatbridge, Thomas Elliott was the son of William J. McClements, Gardener, and Elizabeth Elliott.
Educated at Coatbridge High School, he enlisted for the army in World War 1. Attesting on 3 May 1917, in the 3rd Battalion Scottish Rifles, Mr McClements served at Home, first in the Army Reserve before he was mobilized. After serving a year in France, he was demobbed on 18 October 1919. His trade was noted as a "Rounder Up". Research for information on this occupation has proved fruitless. However, Mr McClements worked in business before training for the ministry. Could a "rounder up" be linked to accountancy?
Licensed by the Presbytery of Hamilton in April 1932, Mr McClements was ordained and inducted the following month, on 11 May, to Wishaw Belhaven Craigneuk. Translating to Glasgow Tollcross Victoria on 20 October, 1938, he spent seven years there before being called to Uphall South where he was inducted on 12 September, 1945.
Mr McClements was known to be "indefatigable in his visitation and have a natural gift of friendliness". During his ministry, Uphall South celebrated its Jubilee.
He married 1) Helen MacLachlan(1909 - 1943) and 2) Helen Mann(1912 - 2012).
A great shock to his family and congregation came when Mr McClements passed away suddenly. He had a bout of flu and was taken to hospital. On 30 June, 1949 at Bangour Hospital, West Lothian, aged 50 years, he passed away of pneumonia, as a result of heart problems. His cremation took place, 2 July, 1949, in Edinburgh.
John Leslie Sidney Smith(1949 - 1960)
Born 21 August 1902, J.L. Sidney Smith was the son of James Smith, Church of Scotland Minister, and Annie Maxwell.
Educated at Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen and Aberdeen University, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Aberdeen in 1928. During his time as assistant in Riccarton, Ayrshire(1928 - 32), his ordination, by Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock, took place on 25 February 1931. Inducted on 23 September 1932, at Langton Church by the Presbytery of Duns, he married Annie Stewart the following year, on 5 July, 1933. Mr Smith served at Langton for seventeen years before being called to Uphall South. The Call was signed by 132 members and 5 adherents and Mr Smith was inducted on 15 December 1949.
During his ministry, members increased. In 1955, there were 381 on the Roll and a high turnout of 306 communicated in October 1958. Despite the high number, attendance at the evening services was declining and the Kirk Session agreed to have one evening service per month.
Mr Smith translated to Princess Street, Port Glasgow on 9 June 1960, retiring from there on 31 March 1971.
Mr Smith passed away on 31 August 1974 at Kirkliston, West Lothian.
Allan Bell Forrest(1961 - 1993)
Born 11 August 1930 at Kilsyth, Lanarkshire, Allan Bell Forrest was the son of James Forrest, Butcher, and Margaret Cuthbert Marshall Bell. Lanarkshire, in 1930, Mr Forrest was educated at Kilsyth Academy, of which he was a dux, and then Glasgow University.
Licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow on 15 April 1953, he was assistant at Lesmahagow Old for two years. Mr Forrest was then called to his first charge, Renton Millburn, and was ordained and inducted on 11 January, 1956. He translated to Uphall South on 21 February, 1961.
At a social gathering, in the church, on 22 February, Mr Forrest was introduced and welcomed by members of Uphall South.
Mr Forrest served as Clerk to the Presbytery of Livingston and Bathgate(1970 - 76), Clerk to the Presbytery of West Lothian(1976 - 81), and Clerk to the Synod of Lothian(1976 - 92). He was chaplain at Bangour Hospital to Blocks Q, S, T and was a well loved visitor.
During his ministry, Fortneuk Manse was sold and Mr Forrest and his wife moved to the new Manse at 8 McLardy Court, Uphall, in April 1983. He was the only minister to live in that property. Mr Forrest was a great academic and he and the congregation achieved much during his ministry. It was sad that hard times were then faced in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Mr Forrest had a ministry of 32 years at Uphall South, making him our longest serving minister. Commissioners from the Kirk Session and congregation attended the Presbytery of West Lothian meeting on 6 October 1992, asking that" Mr Forrest demit his charge though incapacity". Unfortunately, Mr Forrest's eyesight had been failing for some years.
He retired on 16 May 1993 and he and Mrs Forrest moved to Dunoon, Argyll and Bute.
Mr Forrest passed away on 8 November 2018 at Cowal Hospice Dunoon.
James Maitland(1992 - 1994)
Born 10 May 1914 at Appin, James Maitland was the son of John Maitland, Gardener, and Barbara McLeod. Educated at Edinburgh University and New College, Dr Maitland was a retired minister with over fifty years experience in different charges throughout Scotland when he came to Uphall South in November 1992. He came at a time of uncertainty and transformation began under his care. As the Centenary Booklet of Uphall South states, "He will be remembered at Uphall South Church for many a year to come as the man who came to lay a new spiritual foundation stone in our midst". The love of God shone through Dr Maitland, a gentle man, with expressive eyes that gave a direct look. He was supported in his ministry by his wife, Elizabeth Simpson. who he married in 1943. Dr Maitland passed away on 20 August 1996, age 82 years. The Kirk Session of Uphall South presented a Children's Bible to the Sunday Club, dedicated to the memory of Rev. Dr. James Maitland.
Uphall Free Church
George Millar Aug 1898 - 1900
Uphall United Free Church(from 1900)
George Millar 1900 - April 1904
R.G.B. Millar Oct 1904 - July 1915
David McDougall Nov 1915 - June 1922
Alex MacPherson Sept 1922 - June 1929
Uphall South Church of Scotland(from 1929)
Donald McArthur Chalmers Sept 1929 - Nov 1937
Frank Clark Mar 1938 - Sept 1941
George Imrie Francis Mar 1942 - Feb 1945
Thomas McClements Sept 1945 - July 1949
J.L. Sidney Smith Dec 1949 - June 1960
Alan Bell Forrest Feb 1961 - May 1993
Walter Millar Ritchie Sept 1994 - Sept 1999
Margaret Steele May 2000- Sept 2011
Ian Maxwell September 2013 -
Due to Data Protection regulations we cannot include the details of the more recent ministers of
Uphall South Church.
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, vols 1X, X, X1
Ewing's Annals of Free Church of Scotland 1843-1900
Kirk Session Minutes, Uphall South Parish Church
Deacons' Court Minutes, Uphall South Parish Church
Semi Jubilee Booklet, 1923, Uphall U.F. Church
Jubilee Booklet, 1948, Uphall South Parish Church
Centenary Booklet, 1998, Uphall South Parish Church
Newspapers: Linlithgow Gazette, Aberdeen Press and Journal, Dundee Courier, Stirling Observer, Kirkintilloch Herald, The Scotsman, Glasgow Herald, Southern Reporter, Berwickshire News, The Independent.
Uphall South Parish Church of Scotland SCO 24255
Updated May 2020