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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20

New Knox Church

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New Knox Church,

The erection of a new church has been under the consideration of your Deacons' Court for a long time. For the information of members generally it may be desirable to recapitulate the salient facts connected with this matter.

As far back as the 11th of April, 1871, the Court resolved that steps should be taken towards the erection of a new church, and on the 12th of the following month a Congregational meeting was held at which the action of the Court was approved of. A Committee was appointed to canvass for subscriptions and another Committee (to act in concert with the Deacons' Court) was elected to obtain plans, and be prepared with information to be laid before another meeting of the Congregation.

A Committee appointed to inquire and report as to the probable costs of the foundation of the present site and also of the new site, unanimously recommended the purchase of the section adjoining the manse property, and that the present church should be kept for the use of the Sabbath School. After much consideration it was resolved by the Deacons' Court to adopt the suggestion of the Committee. A Congregational meeting was held, on the 21st August, 1871, at which the proposal to purchase the section above referred to was discussed and met with the cordial approval of the meeting.

The Building Committee having asked for competitive designs for a stone church capable of accommodating one thousand persons, 17 plans were sent in. The Committee gave in a final report on the 25th July last, which recommended among other things that the consent of the Congregation should be obtained to the principle—that the Deacons' Court should select and appoint an architect for the erection of the new church. At a meeting of the Congregation held on the 8th August last, this course was approved of, and a resolution was passed remitting the whole question of the erection of the church to the Deacons' Court without limitation of amount.

In accordance with this resolution the Deacons' Court, on the 22nd August last, nominated Mr David Ross as architect, and a Building Committee (members of the Court) was appointed to make all necessary arrangements with that gentleman. The Committee having come to an agreement with him sent him the necessary instructions, and on the 1st of October 1872, your Deacons' Court instructed the Building Committee to call for tenders. page 9 This was done, and the tender of Messrs Roach and Martin for £6,818 was accepted. On the 13th November the Building Committee and contractors signed the contract.

On the 25th November last the foundation stone was laid by Dr Stuart in the presence of the Office-bearers, and on the 27th of the same month the sum of £175 was paid to the Architect in respect of commission.

The Committee were anxious to secure the services of a competent Inspector of Works, one in whom they, the Architect, and Contractors, would have full confidence. They were desirous of consulting the Architect in the appointment of the Inspector, but they were astonished to find that he (the Architect) demanded the appointment and dismissal of this officer entirely in his own hands. To this the Committee, acting under the instructions of your Deacons' Court, absolutely refused to agree, more especially as the person proposed by the Architect was one whom the Committee did not consider suitable. The Committee endeavoured to adjust the difficulty amicably by requesting the Architect to nominate one or more persons suitable for the office, from whom the Committee would select one, leaving Mr Ross to appoint him. As the Architect declined to accede to this proposal, and insisted on the person named by him being appointed, the Building Committee, in the interest of the Congregation, after giving the Architect notice, advertised for an Inspector. On the 31st December last the Committee appointed Mr David Henderson, and intimation of this was given to the Architect who refused to recognise him as the inspector. Much correspondence passed between the Architect and the Building Committee without any satisfactory result. The Committee therefore brought the position of affairs before the Deacons' Court, with an intimation that having carefully considered all the aspects of the case, and having ascertained that the Contractors were willing to annul the contract for a reasonable sum, they re-commended that the contract be annulled.

Your Deacons' Court believing that the position assumed by the Architect regarding the appointment of an inspector was unreasonable, on duly considering all the circumstances, anticipating further difficulties with him during the progress of the work, and being pressed by the necessity for an immediate decision, adopted the recommendation of the Committee and instructed that body to take the necessary steps for cancelling the contract. Accordingly the Committee and the contractors annulled the contract and notice was given to the Architect dispensing with his services.

The Deacons' Court regrets the unpleasant position in which it has been placed, but it is hopeful that at an early date the erection of the new church will be proceeded with.

John Borrie

, Session Clerk.

Colin McK. Gordon

, Clerk to Deacons Court.