Video: Celebrating 50 years at Torbain Church

A Kirkcaldy church is celebrating half a century serving the community and is looking ahead to modernising the building for the future.

Torbain Church, on Carron Place, was built to accommodate the growing population of Kirkcaldy in the 1960s, as the town quickly grew around Chapel Village and stretched further north.

The original Torbain Church congregation at Torbain School in 1964

The original Torbain Church congregation at Torbain School in 1964

Now the church, which serves the largest and most densely-populated parts of town, is looking to the future, as the parishioners gather to celebrate the history.

A special service will mark the occasion on Sunday, April 28, with members of the church old and new invited to help celebrate.

But while the church remembers its first 50 years, the congregation is also looking ahead to ensure the building stays in the best possible shape for the future.

Once open primarily on Sundays, the church is now in use every day of the week, with a large number of community groups meeting there.

Torbain Parish Junior Church and friends gathered for a sponsored walk around Ravenscraig Park in 2012.

Torbain Parish Junior Church and friends gathered for a sponsored walk around Ravenscraig Park in 2012.

Work is currently being done to the roof to ensure it stays watertight, and a five-year plan aims to modernise the building to make it more accessible – currently only one entrance at the rear is suitable for disabled access – something the church is keen to change.

With the arrival of the 50th anniversary, an appeal is to be launched to help with funding the upgrades needed to keep the building in the best condition to continue to serve the community.

There are a number of needs which it is hoped can be addressed once funding is in place, with modernisations of the heating system and glazing among the priorities. These are just a few of the changes which will be needed as the church continues to grow beyond its first 50 years.

The building may have come into existence in 1969, but the congregation began several years earlier, first meeting at Torbain School in 1964.

The Church today

The Church today

Plans for the church were first announced in 1966, but almost ended up on another site entirely.

It was originally approved for a site further south on Birnam Road, but initial investigations found that the subsoil in the area was unsuitable.

And things moved quickly; it was decided to make use of plans which had been prepared for another building – the Cowdenbeath Trinity Church – which still stands today on Sinclair Drive.

Little time was wasted in creating a new home for the new congregation, and after the foundation stone was laid in 1968, Torbain Church was built in less than a year.

Kirkcaldy ministers Rev Peter MacDonald, Torbain Parish Church (left) and Brian Tomlinson, Abbosthall Church offer divine support for Raith Rovers at the 1994 Coca Cola Cup final versus Celtic

Kirkcaldy ministers Rev Peter MacDonald, Torbain Parish Church (left) and Brian Tomlinson, Abbosthall Church offer divine support for Raith Rovers at the 1994 Coca Cola Cup final versus Celtic

The swift expansion of north Kirkcaldy meant the need for a new church to house the 500-strong congregation had become increasingly clear.

Assistant session clerk Ken Gilbert remembers the growth of the area that the church was built to serve.

He spoke of the changes which led to the need for the new church.

He said: “I was brought up here, so I remember. This part of the town is where Kirkcaldy was expanding. Lindores Drive went up and as it turns down to Blairmore Road, it was a dead end, and it was just farmers’ fields.

“It swallowed up Chapel Village, as that was on its own. When I went to the Scouts, there was a smithy next to the hall, up the side of the Chapel Burn. I remember the horses coming in and getting shod when we were down at the Scout hall. That’s how different it is now.

“I played football on this site, and I got a row from my father because there was a big cross up saying ‘site of new church’ and it was dedicated, but we didn’t pay any attention to that. I was only 12 or 13.”

Youngsters peform Holy Joe

Youngsters peform Holy Joe

Session clerk, Gordon Thomson said: “We really want to continue, hopefully for another 50 years.

“Our main endeavour of the moment is to make the roof wind and watertight.

“There are other things we’d like to do beyond that. We’d love to make the building more accommodating, for community purposes as well as for worship.

“Disabled access is present after a fashion in that we do have a door at the back of the hall, but it’s not ideal.

“We did quite an extensive survey fairly recently among current users of the hall, because we feel we want to provide things that people are asking for.

“We like to feel that we’re up to speed for the need for market research, the need for contacting local community organisations, which we’ve done as well.

“Our vision is to extend the church’s use within the area, because it’s serving a vast population centre.”

The service will feature a special guest preacher, Peter Macdonald, who previously held the post at Torbain before moving to Edinburgh.

Gordon added: “We have an open door every Sunday, but this will be a particularly open door.

“A lot of people will remember Peter from the congregation and the area.

“We’re also building up a collection of past memories and photographs which we’ll display in the church.”

A video will also be shown on the day which features footage of the church’s construction.

The special service will be held at 11am on Sunday, April 28.

Groups at heart of church
Bairns, a Blether and a Brew

Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, and Rangers

Greener Kirkcaldy Life Skills Courses

Friendship Group

Over 60s Group

Lego Club

Kirkcaldy Stamp and Postcard Club

Local politicians’ surgeries

Children’s Spanish Classes

NHS Fife Choir Rehearsals

Pre-school group

Dance group

Torbain Junior Church Christmas Nativity

Torbain Junior Church Christmas Nativity

Torbain Junior Church perform 'Superkids Rock! The Planet'

Torbain Junior Church perform 'Superkids Rock! The Planet'

Irene Glen from Kirkcaldy with members of Torbain Church. She took the Olympic torch that she carried on a stage of the relay in Bridge of Allan.

Irene Glen from Kirkcaldy with members of Torbain Church. She took the Olympic torch that she carried on a stage of the relay in Bridge of Allan.