Saint Dominic's Catholic Church, Torrance

25th Anniversary of the Papal Visit to Scotland

St Dominic's, Torrance:
The Church of St Dominic's, Torrance, was built in 1903, but it was not until 1981 that the Stirlingshire village itself became a Catholic parish - a most unusual state of affairs, reflected in the Scottish Catholic Directory entry "St Dominic's (1981, 1903)". This indicates that the Parish Mission was founded as recently as 1981, and yet the church had been built back in 1903 - 78 years earlier! Although the village was the location of the first Mass in Strathkelvin since the Reformation (in January 1831), Torrance did not maintain its importance as a Catholic settlement. For most of its life it was overshadowed by the neighbouring parishes of St Machan's, Lennoxtown, and (later) St Paul's, Milton of Campsie. Before the church was built in 1903, Torrance Catholics worshipped in part of the Caldwell Halls, in the village. Holy Mass and Sunday School services were held there once a month, later once a fortnight. Canon Turner was the priest in lennoxtown at the time and was instrumental in getting the church built. The church was erected by Speirs, Dick & Smith, a firm who specialised in prefabricated buildings. It had paraffin oil lamps and a coal-burning stove. The chimney stack stretched up and out through an opening in the ceiling. It was soon in use for weddings and funerals, as well as regular services, but special services - First Communions and Confirmations - were conducted at St Machan's, Lennoxtown, in the mother parish.
Until 1930 local Catholic children attended the Public School in the village of Torrance, receiving religious instruction there as well as from their parents at home. After 1930 they attended St Machan's School, Lennoxtown, with Senior Secondary pupils proceeding to St Ninian's High School, Kirkintilloch, while Junior Secondary pupils remained at St Machan's until St Patrick's opened in Kilsyth. After Tumbull High School opened in 1974, Torrance children were zoned to attend there for secondary education (from the late 1970s). Today (1995) the Catholic children of Torrance have the choice of attending either St Ninian's, Kirkintilloch, or Turnbull High in Bishopbriggs.

St. Dominic's, Torrance, in original condition.
Although this prefabricated Church was built in 1903, St Dominic's was not created a parish until 1981. Until then the village was within St Machan's (Lennoxtown) Parish.

Despite having its own Catholic church, Torrance did not have its own priest until Pentecost Sunday, 1979, when Father Daniel Boyd was appointed. A native of Stenhousemuir, he had been educated at St Modan's High School, Stirling, and Drygrange, before being ordained in 1961. Following an appointment at St Ninian's, Edinburgh, and further studies in Rome he moved to Ballingry before becoming Professor at Drygrange. In 1970 he was appointed to St Machan's, Lennoxtown, where he became a regular visitor to Torrance (the village being attached to St Machan's Parish at that time). There was much needing done to the church at Torrance, which was a prefabricated building. Although brick-cladding and rough-casting work had been carried out by voluntary workers in 1959 it lacked insulation, to contain the heat inside. This was the first job tackled by Father Boyd in 1979. The main entrance on School Road had a flight of stairs, rendering it awkward for weddings and funerals. It was decided to form an entrance porch, and also to construct a bigger sacristy. The finished result is a much more accessible entrance and additional space for vestments and sacred vessels.
In the original layout there were two sacristies, one on either side of the sanctury. The left-hand sacristy was converted into a quiet room, with a glass panel to enable those seated there to view the sanctuary. The right-hand side is now a confessional, and leads through to the new sacristy. A magnificent altar, of carved wood, with ledges to display flowers and candles, takes pride of place in the sanctuary. The central part, which has carved wooden spires, houses the tabernacle (which came from St Joseph's, Whitburn). Originally the altar had a table attached to it, but this was removed in accordance with post-Vatican II liturgy, to allow the priest to face the people. The altar table (which has the Greek letters Alpha and Omega carved upon it), the altar chair, and indeed all the seating, came from St Joseph's Church, Milngavie. Above the altar there is an octagonal window: the cross is quasi-Cross of Jerusalem, with one large red Cross and four small red crosses. It provides a striking image above the sanctuary. A large crucifix, from St Joseph's, Milngavie, hangs above the archway of the sanctuary. The left-hand side of the church has a statue of the Sacred Heart, while the right-hand side has one of Our Lady. Flowers and plants adorn the Lady Altar. Near the entrance to the quiet room there is a square wooden baptismal font, with a dove on the outside; it came from the the Carmelite Convent, Dysart. Other gifts received by St Dominic's include the hymn board and the notice board, from St Joseph's, Whitburn, and the organ (situated at the back of the church).
The Papal Blessing is prominently placed on the right-hand side of the sanctuary. It was bestowed on St Dominic's in January 1981, on the 150th anniversary of the first Mass said in Torrance. Cardinal Gordon Gray concelebrated Mass with Father Daniel Boyd and Father John Archibald (of Milton of Campsie). It was a great occasion for Torrance, for at the same time St Dominic's was at last erected as a parish in its own right, with Father Boyd as its first Parish Priest. Cardinal Gray spoke about the origin of St Dominic's as a parish, and how it had been an Irish labourer called Loughrey whose activities had led to the first Mass being said exactly 150 years previously. Loughrey had come to Torrance to find work, and with another man named Hume had taken out contracts from local people. As his business had grown he had brought more labourers from Ireland to the Campsie area. Father Boyd said that it was only right to pay tribute to the efforts and co-operation of everyone who had worked towards this great goal. During the ceremony of the official erection of St Dominic's as a parish, Cardinal Gray read a formal address authorising Mass to be said, the Blessed Sacrament to be kept, and defining the boundaries of the parish. Other clergy present on this special occasion included Fathers Denis O'Connell of St Patrick's, Kilsyth; Thomas McAteer of St Joseph's, Milngavie; John McAllister of St Machan's, Lennoxtown; John Cunningham of St Columba's, Renfrew; and Michael McCullagh of Our Lady's, Stoneyburn.

Archives from The Kirkintilloch Herald

Link to the 150th Anniversary Order of Service

Link to Scottish Catholic Observer's report of Fr. Boyd's Jubilee

Link to old Photos and Memories of the Church

Link to a history of St. Machan's, Lennoxtown

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History of Torrance Village

Torrance is a village in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, located 7 miles NE of Glasgow. Home to around 3000 residents the town was once famous as a resting place for workers on their way to the Campsie Fells 4 miles North.

The 2001 census registered a population of around 2,500.
The village contains a local school - Torrance Primary School which has around 250 pupils and has a nursery unit attached.
The local Catholic Primary School is St. Machan's in Lennoxtown.
The local secondary schools are : Boclair Academy in Bearsden and Turnbull RC High in Bishopbriggs.
There are two churches in the village; Torrance Parish Church and St Dominic's.

The name comes from the Gaelic An Toran.

Extended History

The village of Torrance is situated in a local area known for centuries as 'The Eleven Ploughs of Balgrochan'. The Eleven Ploughs were part of the estate of the Grahams of Mugdock (Milngavie). They received their name in 1630 when Montrose, the great military leader of the Covenanting period, sought to raise money for his campaigns by feuing off part of the Mugdock lands. The 'Eleven Ploughlands' were feued off to local occupiers willing to pay a grassum (lump sum) on the understanding that their annual rate of duty would be held at a moderate level. Three of the Ploughlands were at Carlston, four at Easter Balgrochan and four at Wester Balgrochan. "The eleven ploughs o' Balgrochan were acquired at that time By eleven sturdy carles, as they ca'ed them lang syne"

The feuars originally held their land in run-rigs, running down in long strips southwards to the River Kelvin. In 1735, however, each feuar received an enclosed piece of land, in line with the widespread drive towards land enclosure at that period. Coal and lime continued to be worked in common, but ironstone rights were allocated to individual ploughland proprietors.

Some time after the enclosures of 1735, the village of Torrance began to develop. Some of the earliest inhabitants were 'country weavers', weaving linens or woollens in association with local farming activity. Around this time, also, the extraction of limestone, coal and ironstone began to emerge as a local industry of some significance. During the late eighteenth century the improvement of local roads and the opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal, with a wharf at Hungryside, provided routes to market for local agricultural and mineral production.

When the Eleven Ploughs were feued off by Montrose in 1630, the large meal mill at Balgrochan was at the same time feued to a Robert Ferrie. Three hundred years later the mill was still grinding corn and celebrating three centuries of Ferrie family ownership. In 1933, however, it was closed and sold to a Glasgow firm for the manufacture of talcum powder. The mill wheel at Balgrochan was said to be the second largest in Scotland. It was cut up for scrap in 1949.

The canal wharf at Hungryside remained for many years as Torrance's principal link with the outside world. In 1879, however, a station was opened at Torrance by the Kelvin Valley Railway Company and the village, somewhat belatedly, was linked to the national rail network. It might have been thought that Torrance would then have developed as a commuter dormitory for Glasgow, but the influx of new residents was slow in arriving. Indeed it was not until after the railway was closed to passengers in 1951 that commuting began in earnest. During the mid-1970s, for example, Comben Homes built at Red Bog Farm and Henry Boot Homes built a considerable number of houses at Meadowbank and West Balgrochan.

Based on a Wikipedia article on Torrance