Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The first church building in Portavogie

Fishermans Hall

The Fishermen's Hall, or Fishermen's Mission Hall, was built in late 1886 and opened in 1887, on a site on the Warnock's Road. I remember being in it on at least one occasion in the 1970s. A 'tin tabernacle', it is long-gone, finally demolished in the 1980s. One of the leading men in its establishment was Thomas Shaw, an Elder of Kircubbin Presbyterian Church. A newspaper advert in 1886 said that –

"… it is intended that the Building will be used for Weekly Services, Prayer Meetings, Sunday Schools, and Bible Classes, all to be conducted on Evangelical Principles. Subscriptions from those interested in the moral and spiritual welfare of our Fishermen, and who may desire to show practical sympathy with this praiseworthy effort, sholl be thankfully acknowledged ...".

For 40 years this was the only evangelistic outreach in the village, apart from the occasional event in the Orange Hall, of which an 1885 newspaper article said "… in addition to its legitimate uses, serves admirably for either a religious service or a 'whisky ball' ...". Perhaps this accelerated the desire for a distinct place of worship!

The village had flourished in the mid 1800s. In the 1850s it was said that there was only a few houses, but by 1885 there were nearly 300, and a population of around 1000 people with 400 men employed at the fishing in the summer herring season.

Portavogie Presbyterian Church, and the non-denominational People's Hall, both opened in Portavogie in 1926.

As far as the wider locality is concerned, at nearby Butterlump a Gospel Hall had been founded - also in the 1880s - by James Patton, a watchmaker of Newtownards following a trip he had made to Stranraer to meet a preacher named John Walbran. In later years my grandfather was involved at Butterlump. Cloughey Presbyterian Church dates from 1841, and St Andrews Parish Church at Ballyeasborough from 1850.



Butter Lump said...

In this article the writer mentions his grandfather was involved at Butterlump would it be possible to chat. We are tracing the history of Butterlump gospel hall
My email is
I’d really appreciate your help. These places should not be forgotten