Inveresk | Belief

St Michaels’s | St Clement’s | St Ninian’s | Oratory of St James | Wallyford Faith Mission

In 2000, at Wallyford there was a Faith Mission, and the Roman Catholic Oratory of St James; the latter is part of the parish of St Gabriel, Prestonpans. Inveresk Village had practising members of the Catholic Church, Church of Scotland and the Episcopalian Church.

There were three Church of Scotland churches in the rural environs of the parish; St Michael’s, Inveresk Village; St Clement’s (from 1987 St Clement’s & St Ninian’s), Wallyford; and St John’s, Whitecraig.

George Burnet comments on St Michael’s

The parish kirk of St Michael is surrounded by a churchyard and cemetery. There is a church hall (built 1889, extended 1956) in Dalrymple Loan in Musselburgh and the Manse is 8 Hope Place Musselburgh; all of these are still in use. An earlier manse off Inveresk Road was demolished in the 1960s and is now the site of the Burgh school. In 2000, Inveresk Kirk held a service every Sunday morning, and a fortnightly evening service in the church hall (previously held only during the summer months). The hall provides a flexibility of seating not possible in the church, where pews and heating pipes run together.

There is a Sunday school, Woman’s Guild and the usual other organisations. The worship in St Michael’s is conducted along traditional lines but use is made at the same time of modern ideas and music. Some services are nominated ‘all age’ services with emphasis on modern songs and music.

The rites of passage have not changed much over the period under review except that, as elsewhere, fewer people attend church regularly, there are fewer church marriages and many babies are not christened. Public morality has not changed much over the period.

Another earlier manse, near Woodside Gardens, now offers bed and breakfast.

In July 1999, St Michael’s raised £100,000 from the sale of some 380-year old silver communion cups; the money raised was to be used for roof repairs and mission work.

At the end of the period, members of the associated Alongside Ministry visited Whitecraig primary school each week to share bible stories and singing with the children

St Clement’s (to 1987) and St John’s (to date) were daughter or mission churches of St Michael’s, Inveresk, as was Smeaton Chapel at Carberry. Smeaton was still active to 1968; it remained on the valuation rolls a further year but by 1970 had gone, suggesting it stood for a couple of years after the last service. Dating from 1908, the wood and corrugated-iron building had seen its original congregation – of miners and estate workers – shrink as the mines closed and Carberry Estate was sold. However, in 1963 the Sunday school there saw an attendance of some 25 children.

The foundation stone of the modern building of St John’s, Whitecraig was laid in September 1950 and the church dedicated on 1 March 1953. There was no place of worship before, though plans were begun in 1937, when the land was reserved by the Duke of Buccleuch. The project proved too costly post-war and only went ahead later, when the Duke laid the foundation stone. Meanwhile, the services went ahead in the Miners’ Institute.

In 1953 there were 250 members, with a Sunday school of 70, a primary dept of 68, a bible class and an active Woman’s Guild (Musselburgh News 1953 February 27). The church cost £10,000 and was paid for by the Church Extension Fund; it was built as part of the policy of meeting the needs of new housing areas across Scotland. St John’s met the dual needs of a church and a community hall. The Sunday school mustered 138 children in 1963.

St Clement’s, Wallyford was established pre 1905; in 1963, 210 children attended Sunday school there (Adamson, S. 1963 St Michael’s Kirk at Inveresk). In 1957 a window was commissioned by the congregation to commemorate John Stewart’s 40 years of work in the church. It was designed by Z.D. Kujundzie (Bourhill, p21).

The first church hall was erected in 1949 by volunteers, with money raised by the Woman’s Guild and young men’s club. The current hall was completed in September 1967, built by the elders, on council land. A new manse was built in the late 1980s, at the east of the village.

Moira McDonald summarises the role and work of St Clement’s & St Ninian’s Parish Church:

In 1945 the church of St Clement’s in the village of Wallyford was a small daughter church of St Michael’s, Inveresk. Along with St John’s in Whitecraig, the minister of St Michael’s looked after the church with help from a number of lay readers. The church had a busy Sunday school and bible class, a choir and Woman’s Guild. The church was the centre of the villagers’ ‘religious’ celebrations – baptisms, marriages and funerals were all conducted in the church, although in later years, with a change of minister at St Michael’s, many villagers found themselves having to go to Inveresk for these services.

A memorial plaque to local men killed in action during the second world war was dedicated in the church and still forms the focus of Remembrance Day services today. Wallyford was then a village standing on its own – the Miners’ Institute further east on Salters Road was the centre of social activity in the village, and it was there that the local Roman Catholic population met to celebrate Mass. The two worshipping communities grew closer together in the 1990s celebrating at Christmas with joint services and during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In the 1980s St Clement’s became a church in its own right and was united (1987) with the church of St Ninian’s, one mile north of St Clement’s in the Wimpey’s estate at Levenhall, Musselburgh.

St Ninian’s was a church extension charge, built in 1955 to service the growing estates newly built to the east of Musselburgh. It was the centre of activity of the new houses – mother and toddler groups, women’s fellowships, the choir and concert party, as well as the everyday conducting of services, baptisms, weddings and funerals. All helped to root the church very much in the community.

Duncan Finlayson was the first minister of St Ninian’s, followed by Joe Brown and George Charlton. The first minister of the united charge was Sandy Bonar, followed by Moira McDonald. With the union with St Clement’s came an extended parish, by this time facing many social problems – the mines had closed leading to long-term unemployment in Wallyford and the Wimpey’s faced the same problems experienced by other housing estates.

The church retains a very outward looking ethos – we are here to serve the parish, with elders and church members being involved in community groups, the community council, local schools and nursing homes. The ecumenical relationships have grown throughout Musselburgh with other Church of Scotland churches and churches of other denominations. The church remains home to several women’s groups, a men’s fellowship, two active Sunday Schools and youth groups’.

St Michael’s, Inveresk St Ninian’s, Levenhall (from 1955)
1937-57 David S. Stiven 1955-63 Duncan Finlayson
1959-83 Sidney Adamson 1963-67 Joseph Brown
1983-87 vacant 1968-85 George W. Charlton
4 October 1987 – service of transference of St Clement’s from St Michael’s to St Ninian’s
New united charge of St Clements & St Ninian’s
St Michael’s, Inveresk St Clements & St Ninian’s
1987-c97 Alexander E. Strachan 1987-c95 Alexander F. Bonar
1999-date Andrew Dick 1997-date Moira McDonald

In June 1971 the Musselburgh News reported that Rev George Charlton of St Ninian’s had commented:

…the church today has nothing to offer young people because it was not their scene and they were turning to drugs and sex in an attempt to find themselves.

The Oratory of St James

In September 1952 the first Mass was celebrated in the Miners’ Institute in Wallyford by Conleth O’Reilly, who was at that time Superior and parish priest in the old Drummohr monastery, Prestonpans. Until then, celebrants had to travel to either Musselburgh or Drummohr for Mass.

The weekly Mass continued in the institute until the community was able to purchase (1986) the old police station, which parishioners helped to convert into the Oratory of St James (Newsletter of St Gabriel’s, Prestonpans October 2002 p22). It was opened on 27 April 1986.

The Wallyford Faith Mission was established in 1926, offering evangelistic worship. The mission flourished under local man Charlie Dury, from 1939 to his retirement in 1990 (Bourhill 2000 pp22, 23). Its popularity peaked in 1956, when a bus trip was organised to the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow to see Billy Graham. There were generally three meetings a week, held initially behind the tin hut next to the old Coal Board offices until it was demolished c1960/1970s. The Church of Scotland bible class was held here on Sunday mornings for the over 12s. The mission group then moved to the old Factor’s House (the factor for the old Forthview houses), a bungalow near the Miners’ Welfare.