The name of the former Church of Scotland buildings on Ardrossan’s seafront has changed a number of times over the years.

DSC01712The church building was originally erected in 1844 and called Ardrossan New Parish Church. The hall building following in 1889.

Having being called the Ardrossan New Parish Church for 85 years, the name was changed in 1929 when the Church of Scotland had a “Union of the Churches” and decided to rename it Barony Church.

It remained as Barony Church for a further 58 years until 1987 when it was agreed by both churches and the Church of Scotland that the nearby St. John’s Church (pictured below), which was in desperate need of repair, would be demolished and the congregation would be united with the Barony Church. This was done and the buildings became known as Barony St. John’s Church and halls.

st-johns-2When the church closed and my charity bought the premises in December 2014, we looked at various things we could do with the church building.

One idea was to make a William Wallace Visitor Centre to highlight Wallace’s connection with Ardrossan (see my previous post The William Wallace Visitor Centre) another was to perhaps use the church building as a dormitory which could be used by people coming to our personal safety courses as well as those visiting the area for tourism, etc.

With this in mind, I spoke to the local press – Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald – who ran a feature telling locals of our plans and asking the community for ideas on what the buildings should now be called.

IMG_0455This local interaction was teamed up with a questionnaire on our charity’s Facebook page and in the streets of Ardrossan.

The most popular name by far was “The Barony” but there was already a former church called The Barony in nearby West Kilbride – and if we called our buildings this, it could be a huge problem as people could get mixed up between the two and potentially turn up in West Kilbride for a music event taking place at our Events Centre in Ardrossan. 😦

So maybe we should go with the second most popular names – Liberty Hall for the hall building (I guess highlighting a connection with William Wallace – “FREEDOM”) and Kirkhaven for the former church building (a clever mix of the Scottish word for church and the provision of a haven for the victims of violence whom we aim to cater for).

And that should have been that…………

Except that I’m a bit of traditionalist and I’m respectful of the history of these iconic buildings – and one thing that stuck with me were some comments from some of the people we interviewed who said; “You can call it what you like but it will always be The Barony.”

So this got me thinking – maybe we shouldn’t change the name?

The name before we bought the premises was Barony St. John’s Church and halls – in other words, the church and halls of Barony St. John. But the main building was no longer a church so it didn’t feel right saying that the buildings belonged to Barony St. John. :-/

And if the church building became an Events Centre, it again didn’t feel right saying that it belonged to Barony St. John i.e. Barony St. John’s Event Centre – so how about just simply “The Barony St. John“?

If people wanted to shorten the name to “The Barony” or simply continue to call it “The Barony”, ‘cos that’s what they’ve called it since 1929 then that would be okay – and it wouldn’t cause confusion, which changing the name may do.

So, that was that – Barony St. John it will be.

I put up a banner and told the whole world we were here and open for business.


Now you can imagine my surprise and consternation when I received a few complaints from some local people saying that dropping the “s” from the name was “disrespectful” and “sacrilege” – Barony St. John instead of Barony St. John’s.

This not only upset me but surprised me – the public had voted to change the name to The Liberty Hall and the whole reason for my decision of keeping a connection to the old name was out of respect. But let’s face it, it’s not the first time the buildings have had a name change over the years and this one wasn’t exactly groundbreakingly different.

So, I’m hoping that the name Barony St. John will gradually be accepted by those who objected to the change – and let’s hope that this time the name doesn’t change for at least 86 years (I would at least like to break the current record for the building’s name). 🙂