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RIVERSIDE PARISH CHURCH, at the junction of High Street, Church Street and Castle Street, Dumbarton, G82 1NB

ACCESS : Easy access for all. Check service and activities times. 

Listed A. Dumbarton Town Centre Conservation Area. 


The front of Riverside Parish Church aligns with, and in fact defines, Dumbarton's High Street. This was a frequently applied town planning means to give high streets a clear demarcation and a sense of dignity and spiritual authority over the community. It certainly does this well here. By comparison, the material authority over the community at the time that the town was laid out, was the Tolbooth set in the centre of the High Street, where it widens into the market area with a view over the incoming and outgoing trade on the river. 

Riverside Parish Church was designed by the architect John Brash of Glasgow in 1811. It is a simple rectangular-plan church with pedimented gables and a 2-stage square tower with spire over the main gable. When Brash first submiited proposals, they were considered too expensive and he was asked to reconsider them, to reduce the size of the building and to omit much of the ornamentation. 

The trimming back of ornamention resulted in clean, but not austere lines internally. There is a generous sweeping curve of an upper gallery. The stained glass windows by contrast are extraordinary. There are several from notable artists. Look out for that by William Morris. And then enjoy the glorious light through that of the Millenium Window created by renowned glass artist John Clark. These are well described in the booklet provided by the church as noted below. 

Various alterations and renovationswere done by John MacLeod A C Denny and William Blair, architects. Since then there have been extensive extensions in modern dark facing brick which include a large hall. 

The current bell was installed in 1855. This replaced an earlier one which had cracked. It was foundered by C. G. Mears of London and at that time was the largest to have been installed in a steeple. It was decided at this time that the daily ringing of the early morning bell would cease. This decision was the subject of letters of objection published in the "Lennox Herald". A quote from one letter reads as follows " Out of the 4,000 inhabitants of the Burgh only 1,000 started work at 6 am or before, and to the remainder  the 5 am bell was an unnecessary disturbance". [Church history]. 

The small churchyard behind the church is also of interest. That is discussed separately - RIVERSIDE PARISH CHURCH CHURCHYARD. 

The present church and layout of the grounds are on the site of an even earlier church. Canmore tells us that in 1636, a hospital or bede house was built adjacent to the parish church, by Buchanan of Auchmore. It had a small chapel attached to it, and in 1758 they were entirely demolished and the stones used to build the East Bridge and for other purposes. [Canmore].

The Ascension Window on the east side.

One of the Paterson windows.

One of the Paterson windows.

Capt McMillan window on the south side.

Rev. Andrew Gray window on the south side.

St Margaret window

Screen pinted glass at gallery level.

The Betty Telford Millenium Window on the gallery.

BRITISH LISTED BUILDINGS with map : https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200360995-riverside-parish-church-high-street-dumbarton-dumbarton

CANMORE : https://canmore.org.uk/site/42353/dumbarton

Dumbarton Parish Church in History. First edition by Edward McGhie, 1995, and revised bY David Wilson, 2004. 

HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT SCOTLAND website for listed buildings : http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB24885

GEOGRAPH.ORG : https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2722782

RIVERSIDE PARISH CHURCH FaceBook : https://www.facebook.com/dumbartonriverside

RIVERSIDE PARISH CHURCH website : http://dumbartonriverside.org.uk/

SCOTLAND'S CHURCHES TRUST website : https://scotlandschurchestrust.org.uk/church/riverside-parish-church-dumbarton/

WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE HERITAGE TRAIL : DUMBARTON : https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/media/2619068/dumbarton.pdf

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