With the rise in
shipbuilding at that time, Caird's shipyard was
established about 1844, close to the church, and
gradually expanded in the area.
In 1917, Harland & Wolff,
the new owners of the shipyard proposed to Greenock
Presbytery to purchase but "provide another suitable site
to which the Church and the Churchyard could be with all
care and reverence be transferred." After much
negotiation, agreement was reached among the parties
involved in 1919 whereby Harland & Wolff would pay
for dismantling the church and "building of its replica"
at Seafield on the Esplanade.
When the Old West Kirk closed in
1925, the momentous task of dismantling the ancient and
historic church began. Built on the west shore in 1591 by
Johhne Schaw, it was now to be rebuilt a short distance
away on another shore, with almost the same view across
the River Clyde to the Argyllshire hills and 'bens.' That
it should be within sight of passing ships was fitting,
for it had long been known as the 'Sailor's
The old stones were dismantled,
numbered, transported, cleaned and rebuilt on their new
site on the Esplanade. Strange carvings were found on the
underside of many stones - birds, fish, animals, dates
and "initials", hidden for over 300 years when, in 1589,
work had begun on the first "West Kirk."
A less pleasant task was the
clearing out of the ancient cemetery, first used in 1592
and closed in 1857.
The rebuilding of the church had
begun in March 1926 and was completed in January 1928.
The architect was Mr. James Miller, Glasgow, and the
contractors were Messrs. Muir & Co. Ltd.
On the wall of the church facing
Campbell Street, is a carved stone which reads