The story begins in 1787 when some stalwart members of New Kilpatrick
Parish Church in Bearsden (then known as Newkirk) decided to break away from the
Established Church because of dissatisfaction with the system of patronage - a
dissatisfaction that came to a head when the patron. the Duke of Montrose, pushed through
a very unpopular ministerial appointment.
Permission was sought from the Relief Presbytery in Glasgow to form a
Relief congregation in Milngavie where, up until this time, no church had existed.
Thus, in 1788, the Kilpatrick Relief Church was established. Initially
open-air services were held on Barloch Moor in a hollow beside the Tannoch Burn - a spot
still known as the Preaching Brae. It has become traditional to hold an
interdenominational service there annually on Easter morning.
The l790s were difficult years for the fledgling congregation as they
struggled to erect a suitable church building.
Walls were under construction at a site on the Barloch Estate when
legal difficulties over a title led to the complete abandonment of the project. Efforts
were then concentrated on a new site at Hillfoot; with the building at the roofing stage
the walls were condemned as "insufficient" by a master of works whose loyalties
may well have been somewhat establishment-orientated. The roofless building became
popularly known as the "Sticket Kirk".
Finally a fresh approach to the proprietors of the Barloch Estate bore
fruit and the New Kilpatrick Relief Church was built in 1799 at a cost of £500.
In 1847 the Relief Church came together with the Seceders to form the
United Presbyterian Church (UPC). View the Constitution
submitted to the congregation in 1868. It was at this point that the Milngavie
congregation adopted the name of Cairns after John Cairns, Principal of the UP Divinity
Following further union in 1929 Cairns became a "parish
church" of the Church of Scotland, but has retained its UP constitution with a
Committee of Managers under a chairman known as the Preses.
The original church building served its purpose for just over a
The present church and manse were completed in 1903 (view the Feu
Charter ) with the Large Hall being added in 1957.
Major work was undertaken in 2000 following a painstaking exercise to
formulate a congregational "vision" for the new millennium; in addition to the
renewal of heating, lighting and general services throughout the church, the area between
the church and the Large Hall was transformed to provide a new entrance, office, central
court, kitchen, toilets, two smaller halls and, for the first time, disabled access to the
church and its premises.
The "vision" was taken a step further in 2004 when the
sanctuary was refurbished, the chancel area in front of the pulpit being redesigned and,
except for the balcony, pews were replaced by chairs on a carpeted floor.
If you would like to learn more about the architectural aspects of the
church, you can view an article prepared for Doors Open Day .
As a result of changes to charity legislation in Scotland, Cairns changed
to the Unitary
Constitution on 18 February 2011.