The St Andrew’s Leckie congregation’s place of worship was built as a memorial to the Rev Thomas Leckie, the Eastgate United Presbyterian congregation’s first minister, who served his flock for 27 years.Thomas Leckie died in 1821 leaving a widow and thirteen children. In 1874, at the funeral of his ninth son, the family decided to build a church in memory of their father. The foundation stone was laid in 1875 and the church, which cost nearly £8,000, was completed in 1877.
A new hall was added in 1901. A bazaar was held to raise £600 needed to pay for this and a number of alterations to the sanctuary. The Apse has also been altered with the removal of the original organ with its integral pulpit and choir stalls.
The adjacent Old Bakehouse was acquired in 1980 when it was purchased from the Royal Bank of Scotland for £1 plus legal expenses! However, it required the purchase of a small piece of land to link it to the rest of the site, £13,000 and a lot of hard work to make it usable.
St Andrew’s Leckie Congregation
The current St Andrew’s Leckie congregation stems from the union of three separate congregations, each of which at one time, had their own building.
The second oldest congregation, built the West United Presbyterian Church in 1893. It was built of red sandstone and stood at the foot of the Old Town and Elcho Street Brae. This building became known as St Andrew’s in 1918 when the West UP congregation united with St Andrew’s Free Church.
The Free Church’s building in the Eastgate dates from 1872. It was retained by the united congregations and used as a hall until 1966, when the cost of maintaining two premises became too great. It was sold to the County Council and has now become the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre. Its bell was recast and donated to St Ninian’s Church of Scotland, Corby.
As a result of a vacancy at the Leckie Memorial Church, the Presbytery called for a union with St Andrew’s Church. The Basis of Union was approved in 1976, leaving the question of how the buildings were to be used to be resolved in the next two years.
Although both congregations had strong sentimental attachments to their own buildings, pragmatism won the day. The Leckie building offered more flexible accommodation as the pews could be removed and replaced with stacking chairs, to provide sufficient hall space to meet the needs of the united congregation. Reminders of the St Andrew’s church do however exist in the pulpit, which was rebuilt here and the large cross over the communion table, made from fine New Zealand Kauri pine from the St Andrew’s pews.
Efforts to find an acceptable alternative use for the St Andrew’s (Old Town) building were to no avail and the property was eventually sold to the Ark Housing Association and the site used for social housing.