Thurso West Church of Scotland

Brief History

In July 1858, Sir J G Tollemache Sinclair conveyed two lots of ground, “No 6 in Sinclair Street and No 15 in Sutherland Street (now Princes Street) in the Newtown of Thurso” in favour of “the Trustees of the Body of Christians usually called the North Free Church of Thurso”. The Trustees were bound to build a new Church, to a plan to be approved by Sir Tollemache, on the lots by Whitsunday, 1860. No other buildings with the exception of a Manse and the usual offices were to be built. The only burden imposed by Sir Tollemache was an annual feu-duty of two shillings, although the congregation were bound, in the event of the Church being destroyed by fire or other catastrophe, to rebuild it within four years.

Contributions to the building fund and gifts of furnishings came in steadily from members and friends, some from as far away as Australia, and the Church, with a seating capacity of 900, was completed within the stipulated time at a cost of £2,000. The congregation worshipped in their new Church for the first time on 11 March 1860, even though many of the windows were still unglazed, and on the following Sunday the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was dispensed.

It was at first intended to call the building the “Sinclair Street Free Church” – that is the name inscribed on the Communion plate – but evidently the Presbytery objected and the “West Free Church of Thurso” was finally adopted.

In 1900 the West Free Church became a unit in that union of Free and United Presbyterian Churches known as the United Free Church. Then in 1929, by a further union, the West Church became part of the present Church of Scotland.