The congregation pre-dates the present church building by almost a century. In the latter half of the 18th Century, there was a church in Abbey Close, known as “Dale’s Kirk.” Its founder was David Dale, of New Lanark fame. About half a dozen Baptists, then members of that church, formed into a separate body in 1795, meeting for worship in each other’s houses. By 1798 it was agreed that a Baptist Church be built in Storie Street and by 1800 the new building was occupied.


It wasn’t until 1847 that a Christian Brother, his time wholly devoted to the Spiritual interest of the Church was appointed. In 1860, Oliver Flett (right), an Arcadian took up the post and remained the “pastor” until 1894 after the opening of the “Memorial” church. The Coats family were great supporters of the Baptist Church and Thomas Coats (left) was member of the congregation for upwards of 44 years.

The Storie Street Baptists worshipped in a liberal and tolerant atmosphere and were regarded by their more rigid Calvinistic brethren as

“tainted with the heresy o’ free wull”


Thomas Coats & Oliver Oflet

To this day the style and nature of worship remains almost unique in the Baptist Tradition.


 

History of the Coats Family

Members of Paisley’s famous Coats family, Peter and Thomas took over the running of their father’s Ferguslie threadworks, J and P Coats, in the 1830s. Under their leadership, the company became one of the world’s leading thread manufacturers. Peter Coats attended Paisley grammar school and then college. He intended to enter the church, but instead chose a business career, receiving his business training in the Glasgow office of John Fleming & Co, East India Merchants, before running J and P Coats. He remained active in the running of the Ferguslie threadworks for 47 years. Peter and his wife had 12 children and moved into their family home of Woodside House in 1844. After his wife’s death, in 1877, he retired and moved from the family home to his newly bought estate of Auchendrane in South Ayrshire.

Ferguslie ThreaworksThomas Coats had intended to work in the family firm and had been apprenticed to McDowall, the Johnstone engineering firm, giving him a good technical training. It also gave him a grounding in the practical aspects of textile machinery. He and his wife moved into Ferguslie House in 1845 and brought up their 11 children there. His death in 1883 was marked by a public funeral with 2,000 people following his coffin. The brothers were largely responsible for the rapid expansion of J and P Coats during the 19th Century. As sales in America increased during the late 1840s, the capacity of the Ferguslie Mills doubled, and then doubled again in the 1850s.


 

History of the Church Buildings

Walker Street, Paisley

The first meeting for the congregation was a building in Abbey Close which was used until about 1798. The Storie Street Church was completed about 1800 and served as the focus of church life for nearly a century. Storie Street continued in use as a Sunday venue until a purpose-built Sunday school was erected in Walker Street before being demolished in 1912 when the site was gifted to the then Technical College.

Storie Street, PaisleyThe Walker Street Halls designed by T.G. Abercrombie were opened on 17th December 1910. The building was uniquely designed as a Sunday School and, as an example of excellence, was frequently visited by people planning the construction of Sunday School premises. The halls were later sold and have served a variety of other purposes.The Sunday School now operates in one of the Halls in the Memorial Church.