An overview history of a church must inevitably begin with an explanation of the origin of the church’s name – and Springfield Cambridge Church certainly has a very distinctive ring to its combined title.
It was during the end of a Sunday School lesson when ‘letters to parents’ were being handed out that a then seven-year-old lad actually noticed the title at the top of said letter and duly enquired, “Springfield? Where the Simpsons live?” In order as always to extenuate the positive the lad was congratulated on his extensive knowledge of TV cartoons but it was pointed out to him that the Springfield he was thinking of was a fictional USA town and this real Springfield was named after an area in the now Bishopbriggs locale.
As for the Cambridge part – the Forth and Clyde canal, rather than the river Cam, does pass by Bishopbriggs but as yet no skiffs have been espied upon its own calm waters. Rather, the name has been preserved from the former Cambridge Street Church in Glasgow. To explain, the Cambridge Street United Secession congregation was formed in 1833 to serve the growing populations of Cowcaddens and Garnethill. The church was designed by architect John Baird Jnr and erected in Cambridge Street near New City Road in 1834.
The church remained fully active for the next 100 years, but in 1968 changes to the area were planned and the church was the subject of a compulsory purchase order and was then demolished during the subsequent redevelopment of Cowcaddens. The congregation terminated in 1968 on union with Springfield United Free Church. Hence we arrived at the name of Springfield Cambridge Church.
Springfield’s own starting point can be traced back to the Disruption in 1843; which took place when a considerable number of ministers and elders walked out of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to form a church that would be free from state control – that is, the Free Church of Scotland. Those who attempted to set up a free church in the Bishopbriggs area found little support for accommodation from hostile land proprietors but they were favoured by being permitted to pitch their tabernacle in the barn of Bearyards Farm (Bearyards name being carried on today as the home of Allan Glens Rugby team). Driven out, perhaps, by the resident colonies of rodents, this early mission was soon extinguished but the good work lived on through a mission set up in, of all places, licensed premises in Auchinairn.
It was to here that Rev James Fordyce from Unst arrived to be their first missionary. With a revival taking place in the early 1860s they were encouraged to seek a permanent site and work was started on building the church in 1863. Various ministersPermission was granted for a full time minister to be called in 1865 and the Rev James Fordyce became the first minister within the then named Cadder Free Church and served faithfully for some 26 years. Various ministers then came and went over the next one hundred and twenty years and the name and the status of the church changed in line with precedents of the prevailing day. Full and interesting details of all the church life in this period can be found within Bill Findlay’s excellent study, entitled “Springfield Cambridge Church: the story of a church”.
We thus move forward in time until 1968, when, with the church in vacancy the Session received a letter from Rev Andrew Herron, Clerk to the Presbytery of Glasgow, outlining the consideration of the merger with Cambridge Street Church. At this time it is uplifting to report that the church was ‘bursting at the seams’ with both membership and activity. Therefore, the proposal met with approval as a means of combining resources to build a new church to cope with the life therein. The Rev James Cran had been minister at Cambridge Street Church since 1954 and he duly agreed to serve as the ‘first’ minister of the now newly named Springfield Cambridge Church.
Work on the new church progressed and, most appropriately, the foundation stone was laid by Rt Rev Andrew Herron in June 1971; the new church being officially opened and in use by the following year. This development is how we now see the church today – the original “wee grey church” facing Springfield Road and the lofty openness of the new sanctuary, linked to the old, but reached by driving from Springfield Road round The Leys until the doors to the Hall of Fellowship hove in to view. So the story is brought up to date.
The present minister, Rev Ian Taylor, arrived in February 2006 as the 15th incumbent in a long and distinguished line of ministers who have served at this church now known as Springfield Cambridge. [As stated, this has been but a ‘taster’ of Springfield Cambridge’s history.
For a full, in depth and fascinating account of that history, it is greatly recommended that one obtains a copy of “Springfield Cambridge Bishopbriggs – The story of a church” by Bill Findlay. Copies are available from the Church Office for the sum of £5.00 (including postage and packaging within the UK)