Prior to 1916 the Scottish Episcopal Church in Bathgate met in the Masonic Hall in Jarvey Street. The nearest dedicated church was St Paul’s Episcopal church in Armadale and the Bathgate community was linked with this church. In 1915 Bathgate got its own Episcopal Church building, in a gothic style, at a cost of £1,400 in Glasgow Road. It was dedicated to St Columba on May 17th 1916. A church hall and tennis court was added in the 1930s. In the early 1940s St Paul’s in Armadale closed leaving St Columba’s as an independent church. In the early 1970s St Columba’s once again became a joint charge, this time with St Mildred’s, now St Peter’s in Linlithgow.
The 1990s brought more change. With the church hall in danger of collapse, the decision was taken to sell some of the land surrounding the church and change the church itself into a multi purpose building. During 1998/99 the work was undertaken at a cost of £70,000 and on 31st August 1999 the new building was rededicated.
Now the church is multipurpose with church groups as well as community groups using it.
The Sanctuary Lamp
The Sanctuary lamp, above the altar is lit to indicated that there is reserved sacrament in the aumbry, (the small container to the right of the altar).
The lamp was given in memory of one of the church organists, Mr William McPhail.
The Oriana Bell
The church bell bears the name ‘Oriana’; it was formerly a ship’s bell. The ‘Oriana’, built in 1906 by Barclay Curle of Glasgow for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company of Liverpool, was one of three sister ships.
The other two were the ‘Ortega’ and the ‘Oronsa’.
The ‘Oriana’ weighed in at 5086 tons gross, and was 482 feet long, 56 feet in beam, and 36 feet from keel to rail. Propulsion was by twin screw propellers and triple expansion steam engine which gave a top speed of 15 1/2 knots at a coal consumption of 120 tons per day. The bunkers could hold 2300 tons of coal giving 19 days supply at full speed.
Built as a passenger/cargo vessel she was capable of taking 160 first class passengers, 125 second class and 300 third class. In between decks dormitories provided further accommodation for 500 immigrants and 177 crew. When no immigrants were being carried the accommodation was converted to carry cargo.
The ‘Oriana’ together with her sister ships sailed from Britain to South America using the southern route via Cape Horn until the outbreak of the first world war. In 1913 she was requisitioned as a troop ship. Whilst serving in World War I she distinguished herself by going to the aid of HMS Mystic, an ‘M’ class Destroyer which ran aground on Torcor Head, Ireland whilst on convoy dutry and in “thick weather”.
After the war ‘Oriana’ returned to the South American route, sailing via Panama, and continued to provide a regular service until 1926, when she was sold at Glasgow on the 22 December to P W McLennan & Co, for the sum of £18,150. She was sailed from Glasgow round to Bo’ness, where she arrived on 29 December. There she was beached, and demolished during the following year.
Saleable fittings were removed and sold either by auction or to local buyers. Here the story breaks down: we can only assume that the bell from the ‘Oriana’ was bought for St Columba’s at this time. Originally the bell was hung in the bell tower; but now it hangs in the sanctuary.
The Triptych, situated behind the altar, was painted by Mabel Dawson. The altar was originally set hard up to it and the priest would take the service from the front of the altar. Now the triptych has been restored and put into a new surround during the redevelopment of the church in 1999, the altar has been moved forward to allow the priest to stand behind the altar and face the congregation