St. Silas formed in 1864 as an independent Anglican congregation, breaking away from St. Jude’s English Episcopal Church on St. Vincent’s Street. Their founders included shipping magnate Sir George Burns, Sir Archibald Ilay Campbell, and Dunoon landowner William Burnley. Choosing to relocate in the rapidly developing West End, the new church was built near the University of Glasgow in 1864, where Campbell served as Dean of Faculties. The church, featuring a large centre rose window, was designed by John Honeyman, a renowned architect and future partner of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The church hall was not built for another thirty years in 1895. This hall was later replaced in 2011 as part of the “Building for the Future” project to better suit the modern needs of the church.
WHERE? On a traffic island in the Gorbals district, near the start of Caledonia Road, where Cathcart Road and Laurieston Road diverge.
Standing tall, a proud survivor of the ages, Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s church rests on an odd traffic island that marks the former junction between Caledonia Rd and Cathcart Rd.
Thought to be Thomson’s first stab at designing a church, the building was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1965. Although now a Grade A-listed building, the church has lay derelict and abandoned for half a century, watching as the city around it has changed, but with a certain stubborn Scottish pride serving as a reminder of a grander past.
Across from the church on a small traffic island sits the box-like No.8 Corporation Weigh Office, which acted as a stop point for vehicles to be weighed, back in the days when they were not so frequent on the roads.