In 1794 David Dale, the Scottish philanthropist, founded a church in Abbey Close, Paisley, locally known as Dale's Kirk. Its members were known as the Abbey Close Independents. In 1795, seven or eight Baptists from this group formed themselves into a separate body, meeting in each other's houses until they had a meeting place of their own, also in Abbey Close.
In the spring of 1798, the Baptist Church, having found their premises too small, agreed to build a new place of worship on the ground in Storie Street, Paisley. By December of that same year, the new church had been erected. Thomas Coats became a member of this church in which he served for upwards of 44 years until his death on the 15th October 1883.
On 28th January 1885, Dr Oliver Flett, minister of the Storie Street church, intimated to his congregation that the late Thomas Coats' family had resolved to build a church in his memory. The church was to be used as 'a living memorial to his name, so revered by all'.
On Sunday 13th May 1894, Mrs Coats arrived at the door of the East Transept of the newly constructed church and, with a golden master-key, unlocked the door. She and her family were conducted by the building's architect, Hippolyte J Blanc, to the West Transept where seats were reserved for them. Following behind the family group came members from the church in Storie Street.
For 124 years, the church was in continuous use as a place of public worship. On 28th January 2018, however, at the Half-Yearly Business Meeting, the congregation agreed to give serious consideration to the prospect of closure resulting from a combination of declining financial resources and a dwindling membership.
At a special meeting on 25th February 2018, it was decided that the church would close with the final service being held on Sunday 26th August 2018. A memorable and bittersweet day. The minister, the Reverend Theo L Corney, conducted the service while the praise was led by a choir in good voice ably supported by a congregation of around 300, including guests and friends of the church.
Historic Environment Scotland – a national body responsible for protecting many aspects of Scotland's national heritage – afforded a Category A status to the Memorial Building, which signifies the highest level of recognition of its importance. The grading covers the magnificent structure and the building's internal contents in which there is the craftsmanship of the highest order.
The congregation has now disbanded. The arduous task of finding a secure future for the Memorial Building lay with its four trustees – all former congregation members – who owned the building. Their favoured option is to see the church transformed into a multi-purpose venue that people can use and enjoyed by Paisley and beyond.
Find out more about the Coats Paisley Charity