Oran Mor


(Òran Mór, Kelvinside Parish Church, Kelvinside Free Church)

An entertainment venue and cultural centre located at the top of Byers Road in the Hillhead district of Glasgow, Òran Mór occupies the former Kelvinside Parish Church, which dates from 1862. This substantial building is a notable landmark, with its tall Italianate bell-tower topped by a soaring spire.

Situated at the heart of Glasgow's West End, the venue has a regular programme of cultural events, including music, drama, poetry readings and comedy. It has also hosted a range of corporate and private events including product launches, awards' dinners, weddings, fashion shows and conferences.

The building was the work of architect J. J. Stevenson (1831 - 1908) and began as Kelvinside Free Church. At £9500, it cost more than twice the estimates, and was funded by a group of wealthy free-churchmen that included publisher John Blackie (1805-73), his younger brother Walter Blackie (1816 - 1906), and industrialist Robert Binning (c.1817-94). The building fell from ecclesiastical use in 1978 after a union with Belmont and Hillhead Parish Church, and for several years became the Bible Training Institute and then Glasgow Bible College. This moved elsewhere in 1998 and repurposing of the building to form Òran Mór began in 2002.

Opening in 2004, the name Òran Mór means the 'great melody of life' or 'big song', it comprises the Whisky and Victorian Bars, two restaurants (the Brasserie Restaurant and the John Muir Room, a nightclub and private event space. Named after the conservationist, John Muir (1838 - 1914), the room features stained-glass by the Glasgow-based artist John K. Clark (b.1957). A mural by Alasdair Gray (1934 - 2019) which decorates the ceiling of the sizeable auditorium represents one of the largest works of public art in Scotland. Around the auditorium are a set of eleven heads carved by William Mossman (1824-84) for which he was paid just £1 each. These portray leading dissenting theologians John Wycliffe (1325-84), Martin Luther (1483 - 1546), Philip Melanchthon (1497 - 1560), Huldreich Zwingli (1484 - 1531), William Tyndale (1484 - 1536), Desiderius Erasmus (1466 - 1536), John Calvin (1509-64), John Knox (1505-72), including three Scots; Andrew Melville (1545 - 1622), Alexander Henderson (1583 - 1646) and Dr. Thomas Chalmers (1780 - 1847).

The building benefits from a peel of eight bells which were cast by the Whitechapel Foundry (London). These were gifted to the church by Nicol Paton Brown (1853 - 1934), whose only son, Captain Kenneth Ashby Brown lost his life in France in 1917, shortly after the bells were installed. They serve as a memorial to the men of Glasgow Academy, Kelvinside Academy and church congregation who died serving in the First World War. The bells were first rung on Christmas Day, 1917, and continue to be rung at 11am each year on the 11th of November as an act of remembrance.


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