Within The Old West Kirk there is a brass plaque which lists its ministers from 1591 to 1832: the heading is a reminder of its historic beginning:


"Under a Charter of King James VI

Given at Holyrood House November 18th, 1589 This Church was built

by Sir John Shaw of Greenock in 1591.


These are the Ministers of the Church:

Andrew Murdo (1591)

John Layng (1598)

James Taylor (1640)

Niel Gillies (1679)

Alexander Gordon (1688)

John Stirling (1694)

Andrew Turner (1704)

David Turner (1721)

Allan McAulay (1786)

Robert Steele (1792)

Patrick McFarlane, D.D. (1832)


Disused in 1841 after having been for 250 years

the Parish Church and for (150) of these

the only church in Greenock.

Restored and re-opened on Christmas Day 1864

through the liberality of the parishioners."

Presented by James Rankin, M.A.

Ordained Minister here July 21st, 1865.

Near the plaque is recorded details of the minister who succeeded the Rev. J. Rankine:

"In memory of the Rev. Alexander Erskine Shand, M.A., who died May 3rd, 1897 and was for upward of 22 years The Esteemed Minister of this Church.

On the north wall, within the church is secured a plaque dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Donald Morrison, M.A., minister in Greenock for twenty one years and first minister of the union between The Old West Kirk and St. Columba Gaelic Church.

In 1979, he was called upon to unite the two congregations. His successor in the charge paid him this warm tribute on behalf of the congregation. "That the union of these two congregations has proved to be so successful and happy is in no small degree due to the gentle influence of Rev. Donald Morrison. His pastoral care and concern for all members did much to create a sense of unity and fellowship within The Old West Kirk. The Kirk Session and Members recognise with gratitude to God their indebtedness to the man, whose glad endeavours for Christ, fostered within them to resolve to become one people for the worship of God and a witness to His Grace. The congregation will long remember its debt to the Rev. Donald Morrison.

The plaque, gifted by the Morrison family to The Old West Kirk in 1992, interestingly lists the names of all the ministers who served both congregations.

James Rankin, M.A. (1865)

Alex. E. Shand, M.A. (1875)

Adam Currie, M.A. (1898)

Alex Philp (1935)

John Morrison, M.A. (1948)

Robert Urquhart (1970)

Donald Morrison, M.A. (1979)

John Banks, B.D. (1980)

James T. Fields, M.A., B.D., S.T.M. (1989)

During the War Years, the Reverend Philp served in the Forces. His replacement during 1939 - 1945 was the Rev. K. McLean.

The Rev. John Morrison was ordained and inducted to the Holy Ministry in The Old West Kirk on Wednesday 16th June, 1948.

Prior to this, The Rev. John Morrison was Assistant Minister at New Kilpatrick Church, Bearsden, having just completed his training for the ministry at Glasgow University and Trinity College.

He was well loved and respected by all his congregation and served The Old West Kirk faithfully until his death at Easter 1969.

The building of the John Morrison Youth Hall was the dream child of the minister, and the men of the church worked tirelessly to turn the minister's dream into reality. The new extension was opened in 1965.

Rev. Robert Urquhart (1912 - 1982)

The Rev. Robert Urquhart's first charge was at Ferryden, Montrose (1943), where he became the friend of the fisherfolk. During this time he and his wife Mary went to serve with the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens in Germany.

In 1949 Rev. Robert Uquhart was called to Raploch in Stirling where there was no church building, only a hall which served as a meeting place for organisations during the week and for worship on Sundays. His ministry was so successful that it was decided that a church be built. - St. Mark's which could be regarded as a memorial to Robert Uquhart.

In 1959, Rev. Robert Uquhart was called to Bonnethill Church in Dundee - a congregation which he eventually built up to over 1200 members.

In 1970 the Rev. Robert Uquhart was inducted as minister of Greenock North Church (The Old West Kirk) which he served until his retiral in 1978. He was an excellent pastor who delighted in visiting the homes of all his members.

Mr. Uquhart never sought the limelight but was always a conscientious, diligent and hardworking minister.

Mr. Uquhart's quotation in the 'Exit Dinner' Programme for 1942 of the Glasgow University and Trinity College Faculty of Divinity reads

".......... there's nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility."


The Rev. John Banks was ordained in 1980 to the ministry of The Old West Kirk, having come from Netherlee Parish Church.

He became a popular minister and excellent preacher.

In 1988, the Rev. John Banks received a call from Ailsa Hospital in Ayr to act as Pastor there.

The Rev. James T. Fields became minister of The Old West Kirk in 1989, subsequent to him having been Associate Minister for our extended Parish.
Rev. James T. Fields is a Glaswegian. Before coming to Greenock, he spent two years in New York as an Assistant Minister and as a student at the Theological Seminary of New York, where he gained his Degree of Master of Sacred Theology, S.T.M.
Rev. James Fields while finding pleasure in anything to do with the "Arts", his keenest interest is in music, in all its related forms.

Rev. Ian Johnson has been minister of The Old West Kirk since June 1997. His family connections are with Tyneside and Renfrewshire - how many times must he have been at the Esplanade in his youth, quite unsuspecting...?

After graduating from St. Andrews, 13 years in Banking in Greater Manchester, Birmingham and London served as a good apprenticeship for what was to follow. He studied for the ministry in Glasgow, gained practical experience in Bearsden, Clydebank and inner city Glasgow.

Ian is married with two daughters.