St. Margaret's Church, Clydebank (Gillespie, Kidd and Coia)

Scope and Content

Job files, images and drawings related to project.

Administrative / Biographical History

The new Church of St Margaret, Sinclair Street, Clydebank incorporated carefully considered concepts related to both the liturgical & practical aspects of Church planning, and sought to explore the architectural consequences of Vatican II.

Conceived as a simple square building, deliberately kept to a modest height & scale to enhance the idea of community room for mass, the new Church nevertheless accepted the need for an appropriate expression of the sanctity of worship & the presence of the host. This was sought & achieved by exploiting the structural means of the 20th century to decorative effect just as the medieval masons manipulated the stone ribs & vaults of their time. Again, just as the long medieval plan was derived from the preparation of the secular nave from the religious choir, so the square form of the new Church of St Margaret derived from the desire to express the sense of joint participation by clergy & laity in the Sacrament of the Mass.

All seating was placed around the Sanctuary, where in response to the new liturgy, the rail was abolished, and the font, the altar, the ambo and the President's chair were grouped together in full view, a view aided by the stepping down of the floor towards the altar, and the stepping up of the roof above the sanctuary to flood the entire area with hidden light.

The diagonal axis from the Sunday entrance to the altar permitted the provision of generous standing space adjacent to the doors where additional seating could be provided on those special occasions when the Church was more than usually crowded, and a cry room for nursing mothers was provided adjacent to the weekday entrance. Materials were simple but effective, chosen both for appearance and ease of maintenance.

Essentially the Church is a facing brick box, lit around the edge and above the Sanctuary, by hidden rooflights which reflect the light from the varnished pine frieze to simulate sunlight even on dull Scottish days.

A striking feature of the Church was the brightly painted space frame roof whose complex taut members provided an exciting pattern of light and shade and form a canopy over congregation and Sanctuary.

The glazed entrance wall is tinted to provide daytime privacy & avoid glare. The timber seats are upholstered for comfort and the fascia, the entrance doors and the confessionals are lined with lead to harmonise with the splendid sculpted altar, font and sanctuary furniture, designed & made by the husband & wife team of Alfred and Jacqueline Steiger-Gruber, whose work can be seen in Switzerland and England.

The parish house provided accommodation for 3 priests and staff. It lies adjacent to the Church and is linked via the sacristy and the office.

A simple grass bank was used as a motif to link the grouping of the parish church, house and hall, while providing the needed privacy to the rear. A paved square in front and some planting enhance the entrance approach.


The material has been arranged using original Gillespie Kidd and Coia project reference codes. The codes CH-CL, CCCL & CHCB were used for this project. The catalogue uses CH-CL.

Access Information

Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections are open for research by appointment.


Catalogued by Tracy Wilkinson, GKC Project Archivist

Conditions Governing Use

Application for permission to quote should be sent to the Glasgow School of Art Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.

Geographical Names