'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

For Whom The Bell Tolls-Number Two

One of the loveliest memories of living at Oxgangs between 1958 and 1972 was the sweet sound of the St John's Church bells which rang out every Sunday morning calling the parishioners to worship. They had a lovely tone to them, somehow fresh and inviting, but also serving as a reminder of church bells down the centuries too. Very sadly these bells may no longer ring out.

St John's Church, Oxgangs
Last year on 2 September, 2012 I did a blog which focused on the former St Hilda's Church, Oxgangs Avenue-the last paragraph of which said: And what of St Hilda's Church? The congregation first met in a cottage in Colinton and then moved to the existing hall in 1951. In 1966 a striking, state of the art Modernist building was opened; and yet less than half a century later the church was knocked down only a few years after the start of the 21st century. The coming and going of a church within a few generations says something about Christianity and lends some weight to recording these vignettes before they disappear of life at The Stair.

I got quite a surprise a few weeks ago when I noticed that St John's Church and Hall were up for sale-St John's-surely not? I decided to inquire a little further and entered into some correspondence. I received an update from the Rev Iain Goring as detailed below.

Hi Alison,
Last year I authored a blog entitled The Stair about eight families living in Oxgangs between the years 1958-1972 which has proved to be quite popular with followers from as far away as Australia-St John's Church is mentioned a few times and particularly Rev Jack Orr-I still put up occasional updates and noticed the church building and hall has been put up for sale. I wondered whether you would be kind enough to please give me an update on this and also the congregation.
Thanks Alison.
Peter Hoffmann

The charismatic, Rev Jack Orr
Hi Peter - Alison Swindells passed on to me your email to her about St John's Oxgangs.  I arrived here on 15th August as Interim Minister and it is my task to take this congregation and the congregation of Colinton Mains to the point of becoming a united congregation on 1st January 2014.  The two congregation are only half a mile apart and although they are very different in background and culture the Presbytery of Edinburgh has wanted them to unite and become St John's Colinton Mains.

Colinton Mains Parish Church
As you might imagine this is a difficult time for St John's people because the building chosen for the united congregation is Colinton Mains and they are deeply sad at losing their own building that has been so much a part of their life and the life of the area.  As you have discovered, the building is to be put up for sale.  That will be hard for people to see.  There is a real hope that the site might be used for housing rather than for a supermarket  which the area does not need - it already has two and a small local supermarket as well.  

Come 31st December the building will no longer be used - and that will be another difficult time for people to come to terms with.

I hope this gives you a little of the picture of what is happening, but if you need any more info, then please do let me know.

Every best wish


Iain M Goring Interim Minister
Colinton Main & St John's Oxgangs
Mob: 07762 254 140

I'm sure all followers of The Stair will join me in wishing Iain and the new united congregation well-I can't recall whether Colinton Mains Church had bells-I don't think it does-if so it's a pity that the old St John's bell tower couldn't somehow be incorporated into Colinton Mains Church-as well as combining the two names a merging of the two buildings might go some way towards making it easier for those from St John's to adapt to life at the church down the hill-just a thought!


Alan B said...

Hi Peter, I was christened at St Johns by the Rev Orr in 1967. I have a photo of me with my parents, brother and Auntie standing outside. Sad to hear this news, another link to my past slowly fades away, Alan Brown (19/7Oxgangs Avenue ~ 1966-82)

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter
I also was a member of St Johns church even allthough I was christened in Colinton Mains in 1956. I remember the concerts that used to be held in the main hall for the local community and that also the BBs,the 17th I think would meet there as well as the Life Boys as they were called in the old days.
I went to bible class then progressed to the big church.
My most abiding memory was the annual fair held in the grounds and the main hall where all sorts of stalls were set up to raise funds for the church everybody used to turn up even teachers from all the local primary schools catholic and CofS, Oxgangs was a real local community in those days everyone knew everyone else.
Unfortunetely In this day and age those days are sadly gone but thankfully the memories remain ,good and bad but in my case the good outweighs the bad.
I notice that they are talking about closing the police station in Oxgangs, ironically I have the same scenario up here with my local station, so much for progress, sorry cost cutting, as Alan B said another link with the past fades away.
I think I will have a trip to Edinburgh this weekend and take some pictures of St Johns before it is turned into a building site.
Keep on doing the The Stair Peter you are slowly jogging the memories out of me that I thought were long gone Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Colinton Mains Parish Church did have bells in the late 70's and 1980s when I lived in Colinton Mains Place. I remember the minister came to Oxgangs primary and told us the bell had been found buried somewhere and repaired and reinstated. My mum always thought it sounded like it was cracked!