Skip to content

Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Church, walling, pillars, gates and railings

Date of Construction:
1820 - 1839

Address :
Presbyterian Church Great James Street Londonderry County Londonderry


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
23/03/1979 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
C4326 1708

Owner Category

Church - Presbyterian

Exterior Description And Setting

Three-bay two-storey over-basement Classical-style church with sandstone facade within church yard on Great James Street. Built 1837. Interior re-modelled 1863. Located at the junction of Great James Street and Queen Street the church was one of the first buildings to be constructed during the Victorian expansion of the city. Set back behind ashlar Barony Glen sandstone boundary plinth wall with segmental capping stone, pillars and wrought-iron decorative gates and railings. Principal elevation faces north, with projecting tetrastyle Ionic portico and pediment supported by four Corinthian fluted columns with responding pilasters. Facade is ashlar Barony Glen sandstone with Giffnock sandstone dressings and carved details. Central double doorway with fanlight and keystone arch, with date stone above. Large pedimented window to each side-bay flanked by pilasters with Corinthian capital. The portico is approached by a broad flight of steps flanked each side by large stone scrolls following the rake of the steps. Modern arched door and side-lights to either side of steps at lower ground level. East and west elevations with symmetrical fenestration. Both are five-bay two-storey over-basement cement rendered facades with segmental headed windows to basement and ground floors, and round-headed windows to upper floor. Modern extension to south-end of east elevation incorporating stairwell and passenger lift. South elevation comprises blank rendered gable with chimney to main church and rendered toothed quoins; cat-slide roof to west also having smooth rendered walling, lined and segmental arched opening to 1st floor level. Two-storey hipped roof extension is cement rendered, rough-cast, with round-headed windows to upper level facing east and west and small round-arched window to lower level. Extension abutted at both sides with lower flat roofed additions, square headed double door opening to the east side and stepped down at two intervals to the west. Hipped slate roof over main hall with two large and one small copper ventilation cowl mid-ridge. Clay ridge tiles and rendered chimney-stack to south with seven clay pots. Cast-iron rain water goods throughout. Setting: Materials: Roof : Natural Slate RWG : Cast Iron Walling: Sandstone Windows : Timber Sliding Sash, with fixed and casement windows to south extensions.


Gordon, Stewart

Historical Information

The former Presbyterian Church on Great James Street, also known as Londonderry Third Presbyterian Church or the ‘Scots Church,’ was erected in 1835-37. The neo-classical church was constructed to designs by Stewart Gordon (d. 1860) and bears a strong resemblance to the Court House which he designed in Coleraine in 1850-52 (see HB03/16/002). Having only been appointed County Surveyor in 1834, the church on Great James Street was Gordon’s first major commission on behalf of the county. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs (1837) record that construction of the church commenced on 27th April 1835 when the first stone was laid; the memoir writer noted that the new church was still under construction in 1837 but went on to describe the meeting house in the following terms: ‘Situated in Great James Street and [forming] a considerable ornament to the suburb of Edenballymore … this building is rectangular and measures 80 feet by 50. It has in front four Ionic columns, and four pilasters … the material is chiefly whinstone, but the pillars, flags and steps are of freestone from Scotland.’ Intended to accommodate a congregation of 1,200 persons, the total cost of construction was estimated at £2,000 (OSM, p. 108; DIA). The Natural Stone Database gives a more accurate record of the masonry employed; the website records that the church was primarily constructed of Barony Glen Sandstone, a popular stone found in many of Derry’s nineteenth century buildings and quarried locally in Dungiven, whilst Giffnock Sandstone, quarried in Glasgow, was used for the dressings and carved details (Stone Database). Londonderry’s Third Presbyterian Church was one of the first buildings to be constructed in Great James Street; the early-Victorian development of the area, which also resulted in the laying out of Queen Street and Clarendon Street, was necessitated by a remarkable period of growth in the economy and population of Londonderry that occurred in the early-nineteenth century. John Hume notes that during the period 1825-1850 ‘reconstruction of the city’s buildings [within the city walls] took place alongside the development for the first time of housing outside the walls at Bogside and Edenballymore.’ The laying out of Clarendon Street, Great James Street and Queen Street (following a geometric street pattern) was the most ambitious project of town planning carried out in Londonderry since the construction of the walled city in the 1613-19. Further, by the 1830s the construction of an addition Presbyterian church was made necessary as Presbyterians were the largest denomination within the city walls; Hume notes that ‘their birth rate was probably higher than that of other groups and half the population in the rural districts adjacent to the town was Presbyterian’ (Hume, pp 35; 147). Despite now being known as Londonderry Third Presbyterian Church, the church on Great James Street was in fact only the second Orthodox Presbyterian Church to be built in the city at the time of its completion; Londonderry Second Presbyterian (HB01/21/011) on the Strand Road, also by Stewart Gordon, was constructed in 1847, a decade after Third Presbyterian. The Ulster Town Directories note that the minister of Great James Street Presbyterian Church in 1852 was the Rev. J. Denham who resided at the adjoining Manse (No. 35 Great James Street – see HB01/21/021). The church was depicted on O’Hagan’s map (1847) which captioned the building as ‘Presbyterian Church’ whilst the second edition Ordnance Survey map of Londonderry (1853) recorded the building as ‘Scots Church.’ The maps depicted the church as a simple rectangular-shaped building (the two extensions to the south and east side of the church were not added until the late-20th century). Griffith’s Valuation (1856) valued the church and its national schoolhouse (now demolished) at £150, a value at which both remained by the cancellation of the Annual revisions in 1931. The first major change to Londonderry Third Presbyterian came in 1863 when the interior of the church (including the current mahogany-fronted galleries) was remodelled by Boyd & Batt, a Derry and Belfast-based firm that operated between c. 1862 and 1871 (Dublin Builder, p. 81). The Irish Builder records that additional interior work was undertaken in 1900; in that year new heating, lighting and ventilation systems were installed whilst an obelisk and memorial table were set up in memory of the Rev. J. M. Rodgers (minister of Londonderry Third Presbyterian until his death in 1899). The improvements and memorials were undertaken by Matthew Alexander Robinson (1872-1929), a Derry-based architect and engineer who was also responsible for Austin’s Department Store (1906) and the reconstruction of the Guildhall in 1909-12 (Irish Builder, pp 324-548; PRONI Wills; DIA). The rateable value of the church was increased to £300 under the First Revaluation (1935), however this was doubled to £600 under the Second Revaluation (1956-72). Williams described Londonderry Third Presbyterian as ‘the most elegant neo-classical church in the city … the tetrastyle Ionic portico with windows on either side plays down its scale, so that on entering one experiences an unexpected spaciousness.’ In 1970 the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society similarly praised the neo-classical design; however the writer noted that it ‘would be a much more interesting building if it did not face north, for then the interplay of shadow and high-light could be enjoyed’ (Williams, p. 281; UAHS, p. 31). In 1978 the Department of the Environment included the church in the Clarendon Street Conservation Area, ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’ (Londonderry Clarendon Street Conservation Area Booklet). Great James Street Presbyterian Church was subsequently listed in 1979. Londonderry Third Presbyterian Church is no longer utilised as a house of worship; during the Northern Ireland Troubles a high percentage of Protestants in the city migrated to the waterside resulting in a reduction in the congregations of the cityside (between 1971 and 1991 the Presbyterian population of the cityside decreased from 4,227 to only 656 – Census Data). Londonderry Third Presbyterian was closed by 1982; the remaining congregation relocated to the waterside in that year and established Kilfennan Presbyterian Church ‘because of declining membership caused by the civil unrest at that time … an emotional and difficult time for all those concerned’ (Kilfennan Presbyterian Church website). Since falling vacant the former Presbyterian Church has been utilised for different purposes, for a period it acted as the city library before being converted into a glass works factory however in recent years the building once again fell vacant (Byrne & McMahon, p. 24). The rear extension was added in 1984 to accommodate a staircase and liftshaft for the glass works, whilst the side extension was added in 1997. The NIEA HB Records note that in 2003 an application was sought for the demolition of the former church, but in January 2014 the adjoining Irish language and cultural centre (Culturlann) agreed to purchase the former church and it's manse; Culturlann intended to convert the church and manse into additional accommodation space for it's classes and programmes. References Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/5/20/1 – First Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1830) 2. PRONI OS/6/5/20/2 – Second Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1853) 3. PRONI VAL/2/B/5/16G – Griffith’s Valuation (1856) 4. PRONI VAL/12/B/32/11B-ZA – Annual Revisions (1862-1897) 5. PRONI VAL/12/B/33/2C-2F – Annual Revisions (1898-1931) 6. PRONI VAL/3/B/6/4 – First General Revaluation of Property in Northern Ireland (1935) 7. PRONI VAL/4/B/5/14 – Second General Revaluation of Property in Northern Ireland (1956-72) 8. Ordnance Survey Memoir of Parish of Templemore (1837) 9. O’Hagan’s plan of Londonderry (1847) 10. Dublin Builder (15 May 1863) 11. Irish Builder (1 Apr; 15 Oct; 15 Nov 1900) 12. Ulster Town Directories (1852-1918) 13. PRONI Wills (31 Jan 1899) 14. Northern Ireland Census (1971; 1981; 1991) 15. First Survey Record – HB01/21/009 (1970) 16. First Survey Image – HB01/21/009 (No Date) 17. NIEA HB Records – HB01/21/009 Secondary Sources 1. ‘Buildings at Risk Northern Ireland: Vol. 7’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1995. 2. Byrne, A; McMahon, S., ‘Derry in old photographs’ Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2003. 3. Calley, D., ‘City of Derry: An historical gazetteer to the buildings of Londonderry’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2013. 4. Ferguson, W. S; Rowan, A. J; Tracey, J. J., ‘List of historic buildings, groups of buildings, areas of architectural importance in and near the city of Derry’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1970. 5. Hume, J., ‘Derry beyond the walls: Social and economic aspects of the growth of Derry 1825-1850’ Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2002. 6. Rowan, A. J., ‘The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster’ London: Yale University Press, 2003. 7. Williams, J., ‘A companion guide to architecture in Ireland: 1837-1921’ Dublin: Irish Academic Press Ltd, 1994. Online Resources 1. Dictionary of Irish Architects - 2. Natural Stone Database website - 3. Kilfennan Presbyterian Church website -

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form E. Spatial Organisation I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

R. Age S. Authenticity T. Historic Importance V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance


Three-bay two-storey over-basement classical-style church, built 1837 to designs by County Surveyor, Stewart Gordon, with the interior re-modelled in 1863. The exterior has retained all of its character, style and proportions, built primarily in Barony Glen Sandstone with dressings and details in Giffnock Sandstone. Of particular impact are the over-scaled fluted and scrolled balustrades to the broad front entrance steps and the majestic portico. The interior layout has been largely retained with its detailing intact and the building makes a valuable contribution to the Conservation Area, especially in its setting. Set back from adjacent terraces at the south end of Queen Street and its junction with Great James Street, and bound by sandstone walling with ornate cast iron railings and gates that enhance the character and add further interest. The church is of considerable interest in a historical development context, as one of the first buildings to be constructed in the northerly expansion of the city outside of the City Walls in the early Victorian period. It also has group value with its flanking former manse at 35 Great James Street (HB01/21/021).

General Comments

Date of Survey

07 January 2014