Kirkhilll church

Now mainly a suburb and dormitory town for Glasgow, Cambuslang was the scene of a great revival in 1742 under George Whitefield and William McCulloch (1691-1771), minister of Kirkhill church in Vicarland Road (G72 8LL).

Close to the church in Cairns Road is Cambuslang Public Park, which forms a natural amphitheatre, known as the Preaching Braes. This was where Whitfield preached in the open air to large crowds in the summer of 1742, in an event that became known as the Cambuslang Wark [Work].  A stone memorial erected in 2008 records that In this place George Whitefield led congregations of many thousands in prayer and worship.

The tall-spired church has now been converted into a children's nursery, with the main architectural features being retained and restored.  McCulloch is buried in the churchyard. His gravestone, much eroded by the elements is set into the wall on the south side of the church.  The inscription, now illegible, reads He was eminently successful in preaching the gospel.

William McCulloch gravestone

McCulloch might seem an unlikely candidate to lead a great revival.  It was said that he was a conscientious pastor, but no great preacher, even unsure of his own calling.  In Scotland, bi-annual open-air "Holy Fairs" were held when members of neighbouring parishes came together for fasting, preaching and self-examination in preparation for Holy Communion.  McCulloch's preaching at these events was said to send people running for the alehouse!

The Preaching Braes

In 1741, reports of revival in England and North America were beginning to reach Scotland.  George Whitefield preached in Glasgow on a tour to raise money for his orphanage in Georgia and members of McCulloch's congregation brought back reports of the meeting.  At the beginning of 1742, two local working men, Ingram More and Robert Bowman, lobbied families in Cambuslang to ask McCulloch for a weekly lecture, which was arranged for Thursday evenings.  On the third occasion, about 50 people experienced a strong conviction of sin and came back to the manse for further instruction.  Numbers increased over several months, many experiencing strong emotions with loud cries and violent physical expressions.  The revival reached a climax in August when McCulloch was joined by several other ministers, including George Whitefield, who preached to crowds of up to 30,000.  Communion was served to 3,000 in two large tents and some 400 experienced conversion.



Shuttle Row

This was the birthplace of the missionary explorer David Livingstone (1813-1873) and has given its name to a major town in Malawi, where much of Livingstone's life was spent.

At the recently restored David Livingstone Birthplace Museum in Station Road (G72 9BY), the solid white-painted tenement complex is called Shuttle Row.  This provided accommodation for 24 families who worked in the cotton mills, which used to cover a large area on the banks of the river Clyde, sloping down behind the present site. Two circular tower-like structures project from the front, providing wide spiral staircases needed to carry furniture to the families living on the upper floors. (See

The lion attack

On the grassy area in front is a dramatic sculpture of Livingstone being attacked by a lion. The creature is leaping up, about to fasten its jaws onto his left arm, as two African servants are brushed aside, all three men with expressions of horror and desperation. The incident which took place in 1844 in Mabotsa in present day South Africa left Livingstone with a permanent injury, never regaining full use of his arm. He shook me as a terrier does a rat, he wrote of the event.

Enthusiastic volunteers guide visitors through a series of rooms with many original artefacts illustrating various episodes of the explorer's life. The starting point is the modest sized room on the top floor where the Livingstone family of seven lived, cooked, ate and slept.  It has been furnished in contemporary style.

As we pass through other rooms, the exhibits include books owned by young David as a boy, including a Latin grammar bought to understand the scientific names of plants, spinning equipment and examples of the kind of cloth that was produced, and details of his scientific and medical studies in Glasgow.

Livingstone Room

We continue through displays representing the various stages of his life in Africa.  Most important in the early years was his relationship with the pioneer missionary and fellow Scot Robert Moffat, whose daughter Mary became Livingstone's wife.  Mary bore him six children, one of whom died in infancy, but sometimes had to endure long periods alone in England, while her husband continued with his journeys. She found this very stressful having been born and brought up in Africa herself and lacking the support of close friends and relatives.

There is a magnificent display of African items, mostly collected by the explorer himself - shields, weapons, drums, jewellery and a splendid chair carved from a section of solid tree trunk.  Also displayed is a replica of an apparatus used by Livingstone to calculate the altitude of any location, based on changes in the boiling point of water.  Unfortunately, it was not always successful and he failed to predict the presence of a high cataract on his route, while attempting a journey across Africa using a ship carried in sections.

In the latter part of his life, Livingstone's work took on a more political, geographical and scientific emphasis. The familiar cap with which he was often pictured was actually part of his uniform as the British consul for East Africa.  He was particularly distressed by the cruelties of the East African slave trade and sought ways to end it; ironically, he sometimes had to accept the help and hospitality of Arab slave traders during his frequent bouts of malaria.

There are displays describing of his use of the ships S.S. Pearl and Lady Nyasa, for exploration, supported by the Royal Geographical Society, but the financial and human cost (many of his European crew died of malaria) attracted criticism in England.

The final journey

Perhaps the most spectacular item in the whole collection is the massive wooden sculpture representing the  final sad journey of the explorer's body.  On finding him dead his faithful servants Abdullah Susi and James Chuma, removed his heart and soft tissues for burial, embalmed his body with salt and bitumen and wrapped it in tree bark.  They carried it 1,000 miles to the coast of Africa and then accompanied it by ship to England, where they received an honourable welcome.  The final ceremony in Westminster Abbey was attended by many distinguished mourners, not least his long-lived father-in-law Robert Moffat.  Sadly, his daughter Mary, Livingstone's wife, was not there; she had succumbed to malaria in Africa several years earlier.




Kilsyth church

In 1839, a great revival took place in the town under the preaching of Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813-1843), Andrew Bonar (1810-1892) and William Burns (1815-1868).  This was centred on the parish church in Church Street (G65 0NF). Built of light grey stone with a tower and blue-faced clock, there is nothing outside to remind us of this event. Unfortunately, like most Scottish churches, it is kept locked outside service times.