Building work of our church began in 1726 and was completed in its present cruciform shape in 1730. Prior to this there had been a place of worship built in 1658 to meet the demands of the people of Whitburn. This place of worship occupied part of the site our church stands on today. The first parish minister of Whitburn was Alexander Wardrope. He was to be parish minister for 27 years.
The original church building of 1730 had three lofts. The one in the nave was the Whitburn loft, the one on the right of the pulpit was the Polkemmet loft and the one on the left transcept was the Longridge or Cult loft. The lofts were removed when the church was renovated in 1930. During these renovations a new roof was put on, the seating and the windows of the church were altered. A porch and a vestry were built. The renovations cost £1300.
Disaster struck on 17th December 1955 when the church was gutted by fire. It was four years before it could be restored to its present form and was re-dedicated on 11th November 1959. During these four years the congregation worshipped in Polkemmet School Hall.
The building of the first church hall was finished in 1963 at a cost of over £11,000. Apart from the £1500 which was in grants the congregation raised the rest of the money. An extension was added to the church hall in 1992 to meet the expanding needs of our congregation who continue to be as dedicated in their commitment to Christ as our ancestors were in 1730.
Campbell Thomson Memorial Windows
Two new stain glass windows were installed in November 2005 dedicated to the memory of Campbell Thomson, senior elder. Although these two windows are set apart in the Chancel, they are visually linked through the ‘Tree of Life’. The branches twist and turn, reminiscent of the triumphs and tribulations of life. They are alive with wildlife; brightly coloured birds and the ubiquitous squirrel celebrate God’s gift of nature.
This theme of nature is carried throughout the two windows. The borders contain features of the seasons with daffodils, corn, ripened fruit, holly leaves and berries. We are reminded of Campbell Thomson’s love of nature in the fields of poppies, his love of theatre in the masks of comedy and tragedy, and his love of music in the open hymnary.
Green fields and the Scottish hills are seen in both windows. On the left, children are at play; on the right, the shepherd tends his sheep. Both these scenes, the children and the flock, are fundamental symbols of our Christian belief in care. The Spirit is ever present through the cascade of light from Heaven, the image of the Dove descending to Earth and our symbol of Christ through the border of Thorns.
Try and spot which one of God’s small creatures is quietly feasting.
Stained Glass Windows (left and right transepts)
Explanation of the Stained Glass Windows installed in the left and right transepts in 1979.
The left hand window was donated by the Reverend William Hume in memory of his wife and the right hand window was donated by the Guild to mark their 75th anniversary. Left Hand Window Being on the pulpit side, the theme here of “Preaching” is quite appropriate. The central anagram is a symbol of Christ – the “Chi Rho” – coupled with a Greek Cross. This in itself gives a radiatory impression: the Word, too, has spread outwards from a single source (Christ). The Word was initially spread by Christ’s disciples, and the symbols of the four Evangelists have been chosen as representing the spreading of the Word through preaching.
The symbols are: Matthew : on a winged tablet. Mark : winged lion. Luke : winged ox. John : eagle. These four symbols are drawn in a night sky, contrasting with the brighter central section. The figures Alpha and Omega represent the beginning and the end (i.e. a life), and the Lamb of God holds the banner of victory.
Right Hand Window The Guild Window takes as its subject “Fishers of Men”. The theme is taken as a parallel within the Whitburn Community : as man takes fish from the sea, so does man take coal from the body of the land. The hands in the central panel can be seen as symbols of manual work.
The fish is also a symbol of Christ, for the 5 Greek letters forming the word “fish” (seen in the upper sections of the window) are the initial letters of the 5 words “Jesus Christ God’s Son Saviour”. A reference is made to night, here also, as work must continue throughout the daily cycle. In each window, a raven in flight is mentioned, as a reminder of the deeper powers of darkness.
Mrs Jessie Weir Burt McNair Memorial Window
The subject of the new window is the ‘Trinity’ which is collectively the Father (God), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Ghost (or Spirit). The Father is symbolised by the blue and purple shafts of colour emphasised by the shards of gold and ruby. The Son is represented by the Cross and the Holy Ghost by the Dove descending from Heaven to Earth.
Windows in the Vestibule
Anne and Bert Gamble donated stained glass windows to the Church in November 2013. Their gift to the Church signified their 50 years as members to the Church having joined in August 1962.The windows were designed by Emma Butler-Cole Aiken.