Urray East Church

Around 1892 there was a call from the Presbytery to have a church and manse closer to the village. Villagers were currently worshipping at Urray West Church on the road to Marybank. The call wasn’t to come to fruition for another 19 years. The church, at this point was experiencing man y changes and indeed the story of the United Free Church had a somewhat tumultuous few years ahead of them before they could declare themselves an established church.
It was from the Free church that the United Free were to become established around 1900, following ‘The Union’, which I, for one certainly do not know understand enough about, to write about it. Around the late 1890’s, the minister at the Free Church, Rev Archibald Beaton, who had been a strong advocate for the Free Church throughout his career, had at the time of the ‘Union’ moved his allegiance towards the United Free. Worship of the United Free, continued at the Free Church until the Rev Beaton’s death in 1904. 
Within a few months, the remaining Free church congregation, repossessed the church by force, leaving the United Free congregation without an established home to worship from. With permission of the School Board, the congregation began worshipping in the Schoolhouse with various temporary ministers under the guidance of the Rev J.R. Macrae of Kilmorack as Moderator to the new Prebystery. A site for a new building was readily offered by Mrs Fraser of Carn-a Chlarsair (formerly of the Tarradale Hotel) who owned much of the land from the Tarradale Hotel up towards Highfield Circle that we know today and over towards the lower half of the Balvaird Road. Initially a composite building of wood and iron was built on a site adjoining Mrs Fraser’s home on the County Road. The contractors, Speirs & Co from Glasgow carried out the work providing and well finished outside with an interior that was described as ‘comfortable and neat in appearance’.
The new building was opened in January 1905 with the Rev. John Mackay officiating and conducting the service in Gaelic. The only appeal to the congregation for funds to meet the expense was by collection at the church door, raising £91 which added to the sum of £55 received from outside support, meant the new building had opened debt free.
It appears that the Rev. Angus MacFarlane may have been in residence for a short period in 1905 and by 1906, the congregation had a new minister who would lead the congregation into a long period of certainty.

Urray East Church

Attribution: not recorded or unknown

Rev Nicol Campbell 1906-1924

Nicol Campbell was born in 1867 at Kilninver, Argyllshire. Hi father was a native to Glenlyon, Perthshire and his mother from Appin, was a relation of Dr David Livingstone, the famous missionary. He attended Glasgow University and completed his studies in Divinity Hall, Aberdeen, being ordained to the United free Church, Stratherrick, Inverness-shire in 1901.
He was married at Aberdeen in 1902 to Elizabeth Duguid. The couple had no children.
Rev Nicol Campbell was inducted to the church in 1906 where his tenure was to last for eighteen years. His induction service was marked with great ‘heartiness’, as the post had been vacant for two years following the death of Rev. Beaton. A Gaelic service was held in the morning by the Rev. Mr Mackenzie of Starthconon and an English service followed, led by Rev. Mr MacDonald of Dingwall, who afterwards inducted Rev Campbell into pastoral charge of Urray. Rev. Mr Mackenzie of Maryburgh, addressed the newly inducted pastor and Rev. Mr MacDonald addressed the congregation. At the close of the service Mr Campbell stood at the door, and shook hands with the congregation as they exited the building.
The church service was followed by a dinner and presentation, held at the Tarradale Hotel. That evening, Rev Campbell presided over a crowded meeting of praise and prayer which was followed by various presentations. Mr Forbes of Marybank, in a lengthy speech and referred to the difficulties that the congregation had endured in recent years. The congregation were however unanimous in giving call to Mr Campbell who was duly presented with a Standard Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes) and a Lif or Christ as a token of their best wishes. Mr Campbell accepted the gifts and paid a high tribute to the congregation for their energy in establishing the new church. He had been overwhelmed by their kindness in welcoming him and his wife to the village.
The Rev. Macrae, moderator during the vacancy was presented with an easy chair for all that he had done for the congregation during that time.
The couple were given temporary accommodation at Tulach Ard (Bank of Scotland Buildings) with stables for a horse and trap for his parish work being provided, possibly at the Tarradale Hotel? The new manse, on Corrie Road wasn’t completed until 1910.
Amongst one of the biggest projects that the Trev. Campbell was involved in during his tenure was to oversee and open the new church building on Seaforth Road in 1911. Constructed of Tarradale Stone in the early English Gothic Style, the church seated 250 people and was lighted by double lancet windows on each side, with a large triplet lancet window over the front entrance. The pulpit was of a platform design, with a panel front and overhead canopy. With its tripartite windows and single bell tower, it became a significant landmark in the heart of the population.
The internal woodwrok is stained a dark oak and the total cost of the build was £1200. The building warok was acrried out under the supervision of Dingwall archjitect, Mr William Mackenzie with the contarctors: Mason, William Tuach and son, Muir of Ord; carpenters, Fraser and campbell, Dingwall; slaters, Macswayde and Fraser, Dingwall; plasterer, Alexander Reid, Alness; plumber, James Fraser, Muir of Ord; painters, Hugh A. Ross and Son, Dingwall.
The congregation were now in pssession of a church which they had cause to be proud of. Their gratitude was due in many quarters to the Special Bulding Committee in Edinburgh from whom they had had assistnace in building the manse, a hall at Marybank and now the church. Ex Provost Arthur D. Ross, Inverness,the contractors all deserved praise along with the Edinburgh firm of architects who provided the plan for the building.
The ladies of the congregation would not allow the occasion to pass without showing their esteem and admoration for their good and genial minister. Since Mr Campbell had moved to Muir of Ord some four and half years agp, he had wprkd extremely hard in connection with his officiationg clerical duties, and with the building of their new chrch, manse and hall at Marybank which involved a great deal of extra labour. To mark the occasion Mr campbell was presented with a new pulpit gown and Mrs campbell a beautiful drawing-room chair.
In 1913, the chrch was fitted with a new clock whch was erected on the rear screen wall, dorectly in line with the pulpit which begs the question- How longe were the Rev Campsell’s sermons?
Rev. Campbell remained in Muir of Ord for nearly 18 years and during that time he was connected to many charitable and other schemes within the parish. He also spent a period, during WW1 as a naval chaplain at Portsmouth. By 1923, he was ready to move on and was called to serve at a tenure in Brora, where he remained for nine years before his final tenure at Lochgilphead from 1934 until his unexpected death at Oban in 1935.
He is buried at Pennyfuir cemetery in the town.

Rev Ewen Fraser 1925 – 1936

Ewen Fraser was born at Stratherrick in 1869 and educated at Edinburgh University and New College. As a probationer, he acted as assistant to Rev. Murdo Mackenzie at North Church in Inverness. He was ordained and inducted as minister to the United Free Church at Strathy in 1903 where he remained until 1912, when he was called to Tarbat. He was married at Inverness in 1908 to Catherine Elizabeth MacKay of Tongue. He was called to Urray United Free Church after march 1925 and remained there until 1936. He had been called to serve at Ullapool in 1935 and was inducted there in 1936. It was at Ullapool that he became unwell and following several Sunday morning services, he would drive to Inverness for his treatment. He died at the Northern Infirmary in 1938. He had become one of the most widely known ministers in the Highlands and was described as one of the most active and industrious of ministers within the bounds of the Presbytery of Chanonry and Dingwall, he was also a member of the Education Committee of Ross and Cromarty.
During his tenure at Muir of Ord the United Free Church of Urray changed its name to the Urray East Church in 1929 and electric lighting was introduced to the manse.
With the death of the Rev Johnston of Urray West Church and the vacant post at Urray East Church, discussions were held to unite the two churches with under one minister. The discussions were to last nearly two years due to objections from a minority of the Urray West congregation. However, an agreeable decision was met and a new minister was appointed in 1938.

Rev Roderick Smith 1938 – 1949

Roderick Smith was educated at the Nicolson Institute, Stornoway and Glasgow University. His first tenure was a Gaelic speaking charge at Lochcarron in 1933 and he was married in 1934 at Edinburgh to Mona MacLeod, the eldest daughter of the Rev. Donald Macleod of Applecross.
He was called to serve at Urray and Gilchrist Parish Church, Muir of Ord in 1938 taking up the charge of the newly united churches of East and West Urray. The induction service was attended by the Very Rev. Dr Lachlan Maclean Watt of Conon Bridge, who preached to the congregation at the Urray West Church. The church was filled to over flowing and the service was followed by a gathering at the village hall with entertainment provided by the ladies of the congregation.
Gifts from the congregation were presented to the Rev Smith and his family with Roderick receiving a wallet of cash, Mrs smith received an electric radiator and their baby son was gifted with a silver napkin ring. The Rev Alex Cameron had preached to the congregation throughout the vacancy, was presented with a travelling rug. Following the presentation an evening service was held at the East Urray Church, which again was very well attended.
The joining of two churches also meant that the new church now had two manses. Roderick was met with a choice of which to choose from on the condition that he lived in each for 2 years before a final decision was made. The outbreak of WW2 saw this decision being made by 1940 and not 1942 as was agreed. The decision was made to remain at the manse on Corrie Road, which was unanimously approved by the board.
By 1941, Rev Smith was an army chaplain in Inverness where he remained for the duration of the war. The Rev William Matheson took over the pastoral care of the parish in his absence.

Rev Roderick Smith Urray East

Attribution: not recorded or unknown

Rev William Matheson 1941-1945

William was born in the township of Malacleit, Sollas on the Isle of North Uist where his father was a missionary in the United Free Church of Scotland. He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1933 with an MA with honours in History. From there he entered Moray House to complete training as a teacher. He had a strong affinity to his native language of Gaelic and was known as a splendid singer of Gaelic and was much sought after as a precentor in psalm singing. Singing religious and secular songs became very much part of family life. At the time of his growing up, Gaelic was no longer taught at school but its teaching was continued by the church. After his time at Moray House, William chose to follow post graduate study at Edinburgh University where he was encouraged to study the works of John MacCodrum, resulting in the publication of the The Songs of John MacCodrum in 1938.
He entered New College in 1938, graduating in 1941 where he was sent to Muir of Ord as an interim minister. During his four years at Muir of Ord he made several strong friendships and, on his departure, he said he would always have a warm spot in his heart for the parish.
With the return of Rev. Smith in 1945, William moved to preach at Tobermory where he remained for seven years, retuning to Edinburgh to take up a post as a lecturer in Celtic Studies at Edinburgh University. Throughout his career he collected some 500 songs, many with detailed background information. His two sons were to follow his example and became two notable Gaels with Angus becoming the first Professor of Celtic Studies at Glasgow University.
William died in 1995.

Rev William Matheson Urray East

Attribution: not recorded or unknown

Following the war, Rev Roderick Smith returned to his parish and within a short time he found the taxing work of two churches and services at Marybank were becoming too much for him. The service times were changed to assist him in his pastoral care.
Electricity was finally introduced to the church in 1947 and the following year the Rev Smith was called to serve at Braid Church, Edinburgh.

Rev G.V.R. Grant (Jim) 1949 -1982

George Victor R Grant was born in 1917 at Sandringham where his father was the domestic chaplain to King George V. He was educated at Stowe and Worcester College, Oxford where he graduated in 1939 with a BA Honours in Law. The outbreak of war saw him train at Sandhurst following which he was commissioned into the Cameronian Scottish Rifles and was posted to fight on the North West Frontier of India and later Burma. By the end of the war, he had decided not to further his career in law and instead he entered the Church of Scotland ministry, attending St Mary’s College, St Andrew’s.
He was licensed to preach in 1948 the following year he was called to serve at the Urray and Kilchrist Parish Church where he was to remain for 33 years. During his time in Ross-shire he was also Presbytery Clerk for 27 years and Synod Clerk for 23 years. An incredibly intelligent man, he was involved in many local and national committees and campaigns.
He died at his home in Bearsden in 2002.
During his tenure the church saw a few changes with the woodwork being re varnished with a lighter stain in 1950 and at the same time, the platform around the pulpit was extended to the full width of the church and a solid oak communion table and matching chairs were presented. That same year, there was a fire at Highfield house, which was home to the session clerk and the kirk session minute books and communion roll were destroyed.
The 1960’s saw the installation of a new electric Hammond Spinet organ in 1963 and the new church hall being completed by NATCON of Balblair, Beauly (company owned by Alistair Logan, brother of William Logan). The cost of the hall was £9200.

The church has had  few diffeerwent ministers since 1982 and continues to worship under the guidance of Rev. Monika Redman.

Page created on 24 June 2024

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