A
Brief
Church History

Church Facade

Founded

in

1838

The city of Londonderry (colloquially known as Derry) is built on the banks of the River Foyle in the North West of Ireland. Derry is a walled city, famous for its historic ‘Siege of Derry’ in 1688-1689 and our Church lies within a few hundred metres of these famous walls in the City Centre. (Click for Map). Geographically we are just a few miles from the border with the County of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

Our Congregation had its origin in a body of people who met in a hall (former Theatre) in Fountain Street and who were received by the United Secession Synod in 1837 and supplied with preaching. The Rev Thomas Thompson of Kilraughts began the work, and on his recommendation others from the Presbytery of Coleraine followed. On 26th June 1838 the Synod ordained Rev John McFarland (1838-42) to the pastoral charge of the newly formed Second Presbyterian Secession Congregation in the City, and the Congregation, numbering 27 families, met in London Street in what was formerly a theatre but is now the Synod Hall and the Diocesan headquarters of the Church of Ireland. In 1840 the Synod of Ulster and the Secession Synod united to form the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and when the new Presbyteries were constituted in August 1841, our Church became known as 4th Derry under the care of the Presbytery of Derry.

Financial help was received from the Honourable the Irish Society toward the building of a new meeting house and the present church building, erected to the Glory of God, was opened on 23 March 1879. Built by Colhoun Bros to the design of Belfast architects Young and Mackenzie the church has a neo-Gothic perpendicular style façade in whinstone and sandstone. A broad flight of steps takes one from the street to a porch and then into an almost theatrical interior. The theatrical impression is made by the three-sided balcony and by a feeling that the building narrows towards the central focus of the pulpit. The drivingforce of the congregation in the nineteenth century was Rev Robert Ross and during his Ministry (1850-94) the Church was built and the Halls were added about 10 years later, together costing upwards of £10,000. The Halls were constructed primarily as a Church School and were in use by the education authorities until 1995.

By 1965 we had a thriving congregation of about 400 families and it was possible for the then Minister Rev. R. C. Graham (1965-97) to do nearly all of his pastoral work by walking around the parish, for most of the people lived around the church. By 1994 the congregation was reduced to 280 families and the Sunday School had been reduced from 240 to 80 children. Only 50 families (mainly elderly) remained on the city side the rest having moved across the river to the Waterside during the troubled 70's and 80's. The reduction in the size of the congregation is paralleled in what happened to the overall Protestant population on the city side of the river, which fell from 18,000 in 1968 to 2,800 in 1994. The Church fabric and roof were extensively renovated during the 1960's and in the 1970's the stained glass windows and organ were damaged in a bomb blast.  In 1993 the interior was completely renovated with the Halls being completely re-furbished in 1998 – providing the present Congregation, of approximately 190 families with 30 children in the Sunday School, with modern amenities and facilities for the weekly activities.

In 1989 the Congregations of Carlisle Road and Crossroads (Founded 1783) became a Union. The Minister has responsibility for both – one in the Northern Ireland and one in the Republic of Ireland. Crossroads, Co Donegal is 6 miles from Londonderry and had been a Stated Supply of Carlisle Road since 1974. Each Congregation retains its own identity and independence but there is a high degree of co-operation and sharing in the work and worship of the Congregations.

Due to declining numbers and escalating costs for upkeep of their buildings it was decided by Presbytery that 2nd Derry (Strand) and Buncrana should Amalgamate with Carlisle Road. On Sunday 10th October 2010 the closing service was held in Strand in the afternoon and later that evening the first service of the new Congregation of Carlisle Road (Incorporating Strand & Buncrana) was held. The Moderator of the General Assembly, Rt Rev Dr Norman Hamilton, was present at both services.

Article by David Burke with acknowledgement to The Rev. John Dunlop in his book "A precarious Belonging: Presbyterians and the Conflict in Ireland, 1995"

YEAR

DATE

EVENT

1838

26/06/1838

Ordination of the first Minister, Rev John McFarland

1843

02/05/1843

Installation of Rev Marcus Dill Reid, M.A.

1850

29/03/1850

Installation of Rev Robert Ross

1860

1860

Building of Manse in Victoria Park

1878

16/03/1878

Report in the Londonderry Standard - "SERIOUS ACCIDENT - On Thursday a serious accident occurred at the new church which is at present in course of erection on the Carlisle Road. While three labourers named John Clarke, James Devine and Francis Scott were engaged carrying barrows full of stones on a scaffold the supports gave way, and they were precipitated to the ground, a distance of about twenty feet. When taken up they were all found to have sustained injuries, and were removed to the Infirmary. Clarke was suffering from a fracture of the skull, and internal injuries; Devine depressed fracture of the skull, thumb shattered and injury to knee; Scott, ribs broken, back injured and leg shattered. They remain under treatment and are progressing as favourably as can be expected."

1879

23/03/1879

Opening of new Church Building

1886

1886

Rev Ross elected Moderator of the General Assembly

1888

30/03/1888

Report in the Derry Standard - A social meeting of the congregation of Carlisle-road Presbyterian Church was held last evening (Thursday) in the Lecture Hall adjoining the Church for the purpose of giving an opportunity to the ladies of the congregation of making a presentation to their pastor, Rev Robert Ross, of a portrait of himself, a splendid oil picture, executed by Mr Hooke of Manchester, as a recognition of the faithful discharge of his ministerial duties for a period of nearly forty years., and as a token of their warm love and esteem for him as their pastor.... <click here to read text>

1889

13/02/1889

Report in the Derry Standard - The fifteenth annual meeting of the members of the adult female Bible Class in connection with Carlisle-Road Church took place. Mr John Goligher and Mr William Shannon are the leaders of the class....

1890

24/02/1890

Report in the Derry Standard - An able and impressive address on the subject of temperance as taught in the Word of God was delivered in the Lecture Hall of Carlisle-road Presbyterian Church on last Thursday evening by the Rev. J A Campbell, M.A., of Omagh....
<click here to read text>

 

05/05/1890

Report in the Derry Standard - By the erection of a very handsome and commodious front entrance this splendid church property may be said to be just completed....
<click here to read text>

 

25/06/1890

Report in the Derry Standard - Choir and Orchestra excursion....<click here to read text>

 

15/09/1890

Report in the Derry Standard - Death of Professor Bigger....<click here to read text>

1892

18/03/1892

Report in the Derry Standard - Anniversary Services.... <click here to read text>

 

02/04/1892

Report in the Derry Standard - Annual meeting ....<click here to read text>

 

30/11/1892

Report in the Derry Standard - We have pleasure in drawing the attention of the music-loving portion of the citizens of Derry to the forthcoming performance of Handel's oratorio, "Samson" by the members of the Carlisle-road Choir. Mr Anderson, of course will conduct, and we need say no more. He has long and faithfully served the Carlisle-road Choir, and we bespeak for him and the choir the cordial support of the Derry people in their production of one of the finest works of the immortal Handel. The proceeds are to be given to the Organ Fund

1894

01/07/1894

Death of Rev Dr Robert Ross D.D., at his residence, Ardfoyle Manse
<Death Notice> <Memoriam> <Funeral>

1895

06/03/1895

Installation of Rev John Huey, M.A., B.D.

1900

24/06/1900

Illuminated Address presented to Sir William McLearn by the Congregation on the occasion of his Knighthood conferred by Queen Victoria....<click here to read text>

1912

20/02/1912

Report in the Londonderry Sentinel. Anniversary services ....<click here to read text>

1919

01/10/1919

Installation of Rev David Hay, M.A.

1921

07/07/1921

Report in the Londonderry Sentinel - Visitation in Carlisle-road <click here to read text>

1922

24/04/1922

War Memorial Organ dedicated by Rev D. S. Corkey B.A., M.C. The guest organist was Mr R Winnington A.R.C.O., Belfast

1925

25/03/1925

Memorial Tablet to Dr Craig. Service conducted by Dr Lowe, unveiled by Rev D Hay

1926

27/03/1926

Report in the Londonderry Sentinel - The Girls' Auxiliary in connection with Carlisle-road held their first sale of work in the Lecture Hall... <click here to read text>

1927

1927

New Manse purchased in 17 Crawford Square

 

January 1927

Freewill Offering started - Mr Eadie

1928 

1928

Old Manse in Victoria Park sold

 

27/02/1928

Installation of Rev Samuel McVicker, B.A.<click here to read text>

 

March/1928

Civic Reception for Rev Samuel McVicker <click here to read text>

1929

16/07/1929

Memorial Tablet to Rev J Huey. Service conducted by Dr J McGranahan, unveiled by Mrs Huey

 

16/07/1929

Morning and Evening Sabbath Schools would be meeting as usual during the summer, except for the first Sabbath in August

 

03/09/1929

Communion Thanksgiving service changed from Monday to Sunday evening

 

15/10/1929

Collections in future to be taken up before the sermon at both morning and evening services

1932

10/03/1932

Report in the Londonderry Sentinel - Annual General Meeting... <click here to read text>

1933

07/12/1933

Church Choir hold their Annual Concert in the YMCA Hall <programme>

1934

1934

Gifts of furniture from Mr A Strange and Mr Wilson Gamble.
The entrance floor of the vestibule was laid down in terrazzo by the members of the Church Committee

1935

1935

Church furniture presented by Mr A McGowan

1936

18/03/1936

Easter Sunday 6 o'clock Service conducted by Rev Smith, Methodist Church, when Good Templars would attend

1937

14/09/1937

Miss E Glass presented a portrait of the late Rev J Huey M.A., B.D. to be hung in the Vestry

 1938

04/01/1938

Report in Londonderry Sentinel - Church will celebrate its centenary this year....
<click here to read text>

 

29/01/1938

Broadcast Concert by the Church Choir from the Guildhall. <programme>
<report in the Londonderry Sentinel, 01/02/1938>

 

24/05/1938

Centenary Services June 1938 - 12th Rev D Hay, 19th Dr Johnston, 26th Dr Currie, Moderator Elect.

 

06/09/1938

No more Jumble Sales to be held on the Church premises

1939

15/03/1939

Presentation of Silver Salver to Mr J Hamilton JP - 25 years Clerk of Session & Superintendent and teacher in Sabbath School for over 50 years. Mrs Hamilton was presented with two cut glass vases.

1942

Wooden staircase in Church (next to Dacre Terrace) replaced with concrete.

1943

25/02/1943

Women could act on Committee, if elected

1944

29/02/1944

"Wee Church" started for children aged 7 years and under

1947

09/09/1947

Marble Memorial Tablet to our late esteemed Session Clerk Mr J Hamilton, J.P. Unveiled and Dedicated by Rev D Hay, M.A.

 

09/09/1947

Letter from Clerk of Presbytery, Rev Wallace, on who was permitted to conduct evangelistic services in churches within it's bounds - Ministers, Licentiates, Elders or Assembly's agent.

 

1947

Gift of new Notice Board from House Committee

1948

27/01/1948

Presentation of two Communion Tables from the Clerk of Session - Mr Wilson Gamble

 

29/02/1948

Presentation of oak Baptismal Font by Women's Fellowship in memory of those who gave their all in the War 1939-1945 <photo>

1951

7/10/1951

Ordination of Elders: William Barr, Richard Harpur, Alfred John Hatrick, William J Hawthorne, Thomas Ross

 

30/10/1951

Presentation of set of Offering Plates by Mr C McIlwaine

1952

27/05/1952

Stained Glass Window presented by Miss Glass

 

09/11/1952

Dedication and Unveiling of Memorial Window and Tablets to those who died and those who served in the War of 1939-45. Special speaker Rev A Wylie Blue, D.D. <Order of Service>

1953

01/01/1953

Evening Communion commenced

 

18/03/1953

Silver Jubilee of Rev Samuel McVicker, B.A. <report>

1954

21/03/1954

Dedication of windows

 

26/10/1954

Presentation of three Communion Table Cloths by the Women's Fellowship

195?

G.A. Christmas Bazaar. <report>

1956

28/11/1956

Ordination and Installation of Rev John Girvan, B.A. <Order of Service>

1957

24/09/1957

Bequest from the late Miss Glass of £500 to be known as the "James Glass Bequest"

1959

24/02/1959

New Manse purchase at "St Kilda" Clooney Park for £4,800

 

25/03/1959

Old Manse at 17 Crawford Square sold for £2,250