An early post-war, red brick church and attached church halls in a severely pared back, modern, brick Expressionist style. It was designed by William Reid in 1949 and was built between 1950 and 1952 to replace an earlier church on the site. Cruciform in plan with a square plan tower, the church is traditional in its layout but with modern detailing throughout, including distinctive parabolic arches. Located in Duntocher, Clydebank, the church is free-standing and is situated on an elevated site overlooking Duntocher Burn. The scheduled Roman Fort (SM7070) is located east of the eastern boundary of the church, and the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site (WH1) lies beyond the northern boundary of the church.
The church comprises a central nave and projecting side aisles, with shallow, gabled transepts to the north and south, and an engaged square-plan belfry to the northwest corner. The semi-circular apse to the rear (east) is abutted by contemporary, flat-roofed church halls extending northwards.
The walls of the church and church halls are constructed in rusticated red brick, with detailing in red brick and reconstituted stone or concrete. The parabolic arches and door openings have smooth surrounds in reconstituted stone or concrete. The rear elevations of the church halls are roughcast rendered.
The main (west) elevation has a gable rising above the eaves and has a large, parabolic arch to the centre constructed of reconstituted stone/smooth concrete, flanked by lozenge-shaped window openings with vertical metal bars. The parabolic arch incorporates a plain stained-glass window and a double-leaf timber-panelled entrance door with circular brass handles and carved cross and diamond motifs to the architrave. Carved lettering above the entrance reads: '1830-1951 / CALL THY WALLS / SALVATION / AND THY GATES / PRAISE/ ISAIAH CHAP.60. VERSE 18'.
The north and south side elevations have three narrow round-headed openings to the nave with projecting red brick surrounds, and four plain window openings to the projecting aisles. The projecting transepts are gabled, and each have a smooth rendered parabolic arched window opening with vertical railings. The north elevation has a square-plan, three-stage belltower to the northwest corner with an entrance door set in a large concave, concrete surround. The belfry is accessed by a decorative iron spiral staircase. The main (west) elevation features three, linear, lozenge-shaped openings to the third stage of the tower, set in a reconstituted stone surround adorned with abstract moulded shapes. The south elevation has a two-storey square-plan apse to the southwest corner. While a belfry was constructed in the tower it has never housed bells, instead a loud-speaker system plays a recording of bells.
The main roof is shallow-pitched and covered with replacement pantiles. The remaining roofs are flat. The doors are largely double-leaf timber panelled with original circular brass/bronze handles. The metal-framed windows are largely coloured glass with vertical metal bars to the lower openings.
The interior of the church was seen in 2019 and largely remains unaltered. It comprises a central nave with side aisles separated by small parabolic, red-brick arches. Single, full-height parabolic arches separate the transepts and the sanctuary and there is a fluted, stone-panelled, semi-octagonal pulpit off to one side. There is a large parabolic arch decorating the apse interior. Timber pews flank the central aisle and the ceiling is barrel-vaulted and plastered. A staircase leads to a raised gallery in the nave. The entrance vestibule has a textured brick wall in a repeating, three-brick design and some small stained-glass windows. The wall memorial tablet was saved from the earlier church. The church hall has two function spaces, one large hall with a stage and one smaller one, and kitchen and toilet areas.
The church site is bounded by rubble boundary walls. The wall fronting the pavement has a flat cope and two entrance openings, one to the church and the late-19th century former manse and the other to the church hall. The wall to the north has a rounded cope.
The name Duntocher means "the fort on the causeway" and marks the first visible remains of the Antonine Wall running from west to east (Antonine Wall). The village of Duntocher expanded after the Second World War and is now effectively a northern suburb of the nearby town of Clydebank.
The original Duntocher Parish Church (later known as Duntocher Trinity Parish Church) opened in 1836 and was destroyed in March 1941 during the Clydebank Blitz. The Ordnance Survey map of 1948-9 labels the church a ruin and shows its associated manse (built in the 1890s) to the south. A rectangular-plan hall is shown parallel to the rear of the manse, this was built to serve as a temporary church.
Duntocher Trinity Parish Church was the first 'blitzed' church to be rebuilt in Scotland after the Second World War (The Buildings of Scotland, p.455). The remains of the previous church were pulled down in January 1950 and the foundation stone of the new church was laid in April 1950 (Sunday Post). The building was inaugurated by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Reverend W White Anderson, on 10 May 1952 (Duntocher Trinity Church). The new church was described as a new design along simple and functional lines, constructed in rustic brick with timber pews and fluorescent lighting, with a suite of halls attached (The Dictionary of Scottish Architects).
The church is first shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1962 as largely cruciform on plan with church hall buildings attached to the northeast. The manse remains to the south, but the temporary church hall south of the manse was removed following the completion of the church. The footprint of the church appears unchanged from that shown on the map of 1962.
An access ramp was installed to the north elevation of the church in around 2004 (West Dunbartonshire Council planning portal, reference number DC04-221).
Statement of Special Interest
Duntocher Trinity Parish Church meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:
- Its architectural quality, including its parabolic arches, shallow pitched roofs, lozenge-shaped openings and its high-quality brick and concrete construction, is distinctive.
- Its internal and external design is inspired and influenced by innovations following interwar northern European church design.
- It is largely unaltered and retains much of its original mid-20th century character in terms of its design and setting.
- One of the first churches constructed in the post-war period and is the first church bombed in the Blitz to be rebuilt.
- Some interest for its social history marking the rebuilding following destruction of the previous church by bombing, with a significant impact on Clydebank.
In the period after 1945, following the Second World War, there was a significant increase in church building. Many new churches were planned as part of substantial new housing schemes, or, as in the case at Duntocher Trinity, to replace a war-damaged building.
Designed in 1949 and built between 1950 and 1952, Duntocher Trinity Parish Church is a relatively early example of a post-war church for the established church in Scotland. The vast majority of new-build churches that were constructed by the Church of Scotland, during the post-war period, largely conformed to the traditionalist models (Glendinning, p.4). Duntocher Trinity follows a largely traditional model in terms of its cruciform plan form, however elements of its overall form and appearance show the influence of the Modern Movement and in particular Expressionist architectural forms, including the use of materials such as brick and concrete. The detailing of the church, including the exposed brickwork, smaller windows, the parabolic arches and the corner belfry with lozenge-shaped openings, is very stripped back and modern in style. The combination of the modern and traditional is representative of a transitional period in modern church architecture, begun in the 1930s in Scotland and prior to the highly experimental period that appeared in the late 1950s and 1960s (see Age and Rarity below).
Early post-war churches vary greatly in terms of architectural style. Some, such as St Pius X in Drumchapel, Glasgow (1954) and Robin Chapel in Edinburgh (1949), adhered to a traditional appearance and plan form. Others such as St Gabriel's RC Church (1954-7), St Paul's Parish Church in Provanmill (1948-51) and St Laurence's RC Church in Greenock (1951-54) broke more with tradition and took inspiration from northern Europe and followed new trends in worship and architectural fashion.
Duntocher Trinity Parish Church is traditional in plan form, but its design indicates strong Continental influences and bears similarities to Christkonig Church in Bischofsheim (1926) by Dominikus Böhm (1880-1955) and Holy Cross Church Gelsenkirchen (1929) by Josef Franke (1876-1944), both in Germany. Similar features include parabolic arches, cubical towers and concrete dressings. The use of parabolic arches here is both structural and decorative. The curve of the parabolic arches offers an efficient method of distributing load by producing the most thrust at the base of the arch.
The red brick construction is similar to that used at St Mary's Roman Catholic Church on Chapel Road in Duntocher (The Buildings of Scotland, p.456). More commonly used in the construction of Roman Catholic churches, the use of brick and prefabricated concrete internally and externally at Duntocher Trinity is likely reflective of what materials were available immediately after the war as well as design considerations. Building materials were rationed and permits were required for the construction of new buildings up to 1953 which meant that designers and builders had to be as decorative as possible with what they could obtain and afford (McDowell, p.23). Furthermore, the external walls are likely not rendered because of the additional cost and the lack of construction labourers at that time.
A major consideration of the established church in the post-war climate, was the
need to make new-build churches part of a community (The Twentieth Century Church, p.15). In the case of Duntocher Trinity, the church was built to replace a damaged building, to serve an established community and to appeal to future users. To facilitate both the spiritual and social needs of the community, the new church was designed with attached halls with flexible spaces.
Duntocher Trinity church was designed by William Reid in 1949 (Dictionary of Scottish Architects). It is his only known architectural commission, and little is known about the architect beyond him being described as practising in Edinburgh (The Buildings of Scotland, p.455).
The most significant and prolific architects producing exceptional church buildings during the post-war period were working mainly for the Roman Catholic Church and included Thomas Cordiner, Reginald Fairlie, A R Conlon, Jack Coia, Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan. William Reid followed the style adopted by Cordiner and Coia, namely the 1920s-influenced German/Expressionist style. A particular feature of Cordiner's designs included red brick exteriors with concrete detailing, similar to that seen at Duntocher Trinity. The design of Duntocher Trinity church is comparable in quality to listed churches by Cordiner and Coia from this period, such as Cordiner's St Mary's RC Church in Duntocher and Gillespie, Kidd and Coia's St Michael's Church in Dumbarton (both opened 1954). Both are also traditional in plan form and built in a Romanesque style.
Duntocher Trinity Parish Church is an early and architecturally distinctive post-war church that is influenced by interwar northern European church design and the interwar work of James McLachlan in the east of Scotland and Gillespie, Kidd and Coia in the west.
It is little altered externally and internally, which contributes to the building's authenticity and design quality.
Located next to Goldenhill Park and the Duntocher and Hardgate war memorial, Duntocher Trinity Parish Church occupies a raised site by the roadside looking down over the valley of Duntocher Burn. A scheduled Roman Fort (SM7070) and the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site (WH1) are located directly to the north and rear (east) of the church. There is an exposed section of the base of the Antonine Wall about 23 metres from the northeast corner of the church and a Roman bathhouse was discovered close to the northern boundary of the church. It is likely other Roman archaeological remains survive beneath the site of the church and its grounds.
The surrounding area is predominantly residential housing to the south with a 1980s sports centre and sports courts on the other side of Roman Road. The late-20th century housing does not detract from the view from the church because the road curves and shields the houses from view.
The church is set within its own grounds and its immediate setting is largely unchanged since that shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1962. The visual relationship between the 'new' church and the manse of the 'old' church is retained and they continue to share a driveway. The entrance driveway to the church hall remains separate, as it was designed.
The urban context of Duntocher Trinity Parish Church is comparable to many other churches of various dates across Scotland however, in this case, the modern architectural presence of this church, set within a hillside setting punctuated by ancient historical features and other built and natural assets, has special interest under this heading.
Age and rarity
The older a building is, and the fewer of its type that survive, the more likely it is to
be of special interest. Duntocher Trinity Parish Church was built between 1950 and 1952 and therefore cannot be considered of special interest in terms of its age but it is known to be among the earliest churches built following the end of the Second World War in Scotland.
Churches are a prolific building type and can be found throughout Scotland. Those dating from the post-war period are not rare and a significant number survive and remain in use as places of worship. Duntocher Trinity Parish Church displays innovation in terms of its design, retains much of its early character, and is notable for its socio-historic interest.
The designs for these churches range from those adopting new interpretations of traditional or historical styles to those with radical new concepts, for example making dramatic use of light and space with new types of plan forms (McDowell, pp.3-4).
Duntocher Trinity Parish Church is an early example of a post-war church, designed and constructed soon after the war to replace the previous church on the site that was destroyed during the Clydebank Blitz of 1941.
Social historical interest
Social historical interest is the way a building contributes to our understanding of how people lived in the past, and how our social and economic history is shown in a building and/or in its setting.
All churches have a degree of social historical interest; however, they are a prolific building type that can be found in every community. Duntocher Trinity is of social historical interest because it was built as a replacement for an earlier church that was damaged in the Clydebank Blitz – an area of Scotland particularly badly affected by enemy bombing – and was the first 'blitzed' church to be rebuilt after the war. Its presence is a built reminder of Scotland's post-war reconstruction and is a good example of early post-war church design.
Association with people or events of national importance
There is no association with a person or event of national importance.