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Gerrard Street Baptist Church (Former United Free Church) Including Church Hall and Railings

A Category B Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1532 / 57°9'11"N

Longitude: -2.1022 / 2°6'7"W

OS Eastings: 393917

OS Northings: 806933

OS Grid: NJ939069

Mapcode National: GBR SBW.1H

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.PG5L

Entry Name: Gerrard Street Baptist Church (Former United Free Church) Including Church Hall and Railings

Listing Date: 30 April 2003

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 396783

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49192

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Description

1898/9. Symmetrical, classical rectangular-plan 2-storey church with channelled pilasters and pedimented central bay to principal elevation (see Notes); 3-bay principal (S) and rear (N) elevations; 7-bay side elevations. Bull-faced coursed granite to principal elevation; coursed granite rubble (Aberdeen bond in some places) with dressed margins to side and rear elevations. To principal elevation and southernmost bays to side elevations (ground floor only): bull-faced base course with moulded chamfer to top; alternating courses of polished and bull-faced granite; moulded ground floor cill course course; Regular fenestration; round-headed windows to 1st floor to side and rear elevations (excluding centre bay to rear).

PRINCIPAL (S) ELEVATION: to ground floor to centre bay, 2-leaf timber panelled door with sunburst fanlight in hood-moulded round-headed opening with imposts and pronounced keystone featuring carving of John Knox's head; architraved windows to left and right bays. Dividing band between ground and first floors; 1st floor cill course; band course and main cornice; corniced parapet. To outer right and left, channelled quoins, surmounted by square-plan panelled plinths with segmental pediments clasping large domed finials. Flanking centre bay, channelled pilasters each surmounted by paired Egyptian-style pilasters, flanked by flattened scrolls and supporting a pseudo-broken pediment with cross finial. To 1st floor: to centre bay, bipartite window with low stone balustraded parapet; to parapet above, blind oculus containing cross, set under hoodmoulded blind semi-circular arch with prominent keystone; to left and right bays, architraved windows with consoled cills.

E (SIDE) ELEVATION: to outer left bay, very slightly advanced corniced section to ground floor with 2-leaf timber-panelled door in hoodmoulded round-headed opening with pronounced keystone and imposts; flanking to left and right, hood-moulded round-headed margin lights with imposts. To centre bay to ground floor, small single storey, piend-roofed wing; bull-faced granite with polished margins; eaves band and cornice; blocking course; to S, flush timber door with blocked fanlight.

W (SIDE) ELEVATION: to outer right bay, very slightly advanced corniced section to ground floor with 2-leaf timber-panelled door in hoodmoulded round-headed opening with pronounced keystone and imposts; flanking to left and right, hood-moulded round-headed margin lights with imposts. To ground floor, single storey linking corridor to adjoining hall (see below)

N (REAR) ELEVATION: to ground floor, projecting single storey range of offices with lean-to roof. To 1st floor, circular window to centre bay.

GLAZING etc: predominantly 3-lying-pane glazing in timber windows (several windows to side elevations feature small stained-glass shields to centre); 4-lying pane glazing in timber windows to to each half of bipartite window to principal elevation. Pitched roof; grey slate; stone skews and skewputts; to apex, large ornamental timber ventilator with finialled pyramidal roof; to rear elevation, corniced gablehead stack with circular cans.

INTERIOR: entrance through S door (corniced and architraved inner doorpiece) to square lobby with groin vaulted roof and dentilled cornice; to left and right, basket-arched openings with classical timber and glazed doors and screens; leaded multi-pane glazing; screen to right bearing date 1900. Flanking to left and right, gallery stair halls; dog-leg stairs with timber newels and paired balusters. Rectangular main auditorium; to N end, basket arch with coffered soffit, flanked by Ionic pilasters, leading to recessed galleried chancel (see Notes); to N wall of chancel, stained glass window with central roundel depicting Jesus and the Lost Sheep; chancel ceiling of 3 compartments; dentilled cornice. U- shaped gallery supported by Ionic cast-iron columns to ground floor; to 1st floor, to E and W sides, round-arched arcading supported by Corinthian cast-iron columns; ornate plaster cartouches to spandrels; blind basket-arched arcading to gallery parapet. Ceiling divided into three sections (E and W galleries and central section); to central section, dentilled cornice with consoled projections marking bays; central section divided into three sections, each with ceiling rose inside inner cusped border and large outer reeded border; gallery ceilings lower and partly coombed. Dark stained timber pews and wall panelling; architraved and corniced doorpieces. To N gallery stair halls, dog-leg stairs with ornate cast-iron balusters and newels.

CHURCH HALL: single storey rectangular plan hall with neo-Gothic details; unsympathetic modern extension to rear. Coursed tooled squared granite with paler long and short quoins and dressings to principal elevation; coursed rubble to side elevations.

S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: single bay elevation. Tripartite window with lancet relieving arches, set in pointed overarch with blind tympanum; chamfered reveals, cill and mullions; hoodmould. Stone skews with single step midway up pitch; simple blocky pinnacles surmounting skew steps and corbelled skewputts; finial to apex of gable.

E (SIDE) ELEVATION: recessed doorway to far left. Two dormer-headed windows breaking eaves.

GLAZING etc: 10-pane glazing to side elevation and centre light to tripartite window; 5-lying-pane glazing to flanking lights of tripartite window. Pitched roof; graded grey slate; terracotta ridge tiles. 2 shouldered, corniced wallhead stacks to W elevation; corniced gablehead stack to N elevation; circular cans to all stacks.

INTERIOR: partly coombed ceiling; moulded cornice; 2 cast iron ceiling roses.

RAILINGS: forming boundary between pavement and church buildings to S, stone and concrete coping surmounted by cast-iron railings and gates with ornate fleur-de-lys style finials.

Statement of Interest

Listed for its contribution to streetscape, historical connections with the Aberdeen parish of John Knox, and good interior.

The first church to stand on this site was built in 1844 and opened on the 31st of March of that year. It was built to house the congregation of the John Knox Free Church, who had lost their previous place of worship in the events following the Disruption of 1843. The single storey building accommodated between 1100 and 1200 people in box pews, and was flanked by long narrow school buildings.

By the end of the century, it had been decided that the popular congregation required a more spacious and elegant place of worship. In 1898 / 9, the original building was demolished, and the present church erected on the same site; it cost #6000 to build and was opened in January 1900.

In 1921 an organ was installed in the chancel area, which had originally been intended to act as a choir gallery. The organ was subsequently removed, and a baptismal pool now occupies that location.

The church hall (which stands on the site of one of the original school buildings) was built before the present church itself. Undated paintings show the original church building with the present granite church hall in the background. The Gothic detailing of the hall also suggests an earlier date; had it been built concurrently with the present church, it would have almost certainly shared its classical style. Gammie mentions that the Education Act of 1872 rendered unnecessary the schools which were attached to the church; following their closure around this time, it was decided to replace one of the buildings with a modern church hall. The present railings also resemble those which are shown in the undated painting of the original building; it appears that these railings were retained when the new church was built.

The high granite wall to the rear (N) of the church is a remaining fragment of the wall of a rope walk which predates 1828. In 1843, the walk was owned by Messrs Routledge and Sons, Rope and Twine Manufacturers of Catherine Street, who in that year allowed the homeless Free Church congregation to meet on their premises to discuss the establishment of the new church premises on Gerrard Street.

In 1987, following the amalgamation of the congregation of Gerrard Street Church with that of the Free Church at Mounthooly, the Gerrard Street Church buildings were taken over by the congregation of the Gilcomston Park Baptist Church.

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