Ballywatt Church History
In 1751 Mr. John Tennant, from the Edinburgh Presbytery, was ordained the pastoral oversight of the Secession Synod congregation in the parish of Ballyrashane.
The first church building for this congregation was erected at Carnaboy on the Coleraine/Bushmills road: very little of that building now remains. At that time the congregation was known as Carnaboy. Mr. Tennett was also minister of two other Secession Synod Churches at Roseyards and Derrykeighan, near Dervock. The church at Derrykeighan eventually closed although the building still remains today and has been put to other uses.
In 1832 the congregation moved to the present site at Ballywatt. This site was chosen because it was ”distant from any other Church” thus ensuring that there would be an effective outreach in the local community as travel was less easy in those days.
Although known locally as “Ballywatt” this did not become the official name of the congregation until 1900 – previous to that it was 2nd Ballyrashane. The first building, on the present site was opened in May 1832 – this was a traditional Presbyterian building design and could seat 600 people. It continued in use until the early 1890’s when, after considerable debate, the congregation decided to demolish it and replace it with a new building, pictured below, on the same site.
New Church Building
The new church building was erected in 1894/95 by R. Young of Ballymoney to the design of the architect. Vincent Craig at the total cost of £2400. It was opened on 13th October 1895: this is an attractive building both externally and internally with many interesting architectural features.
At the beginning of March 1991 we vacated the church building to make way for a major, but very necessary, renovation programme. In undertaking this renovation we wished to preserve the best of the past while making alterations to enhance the usefulness of the interior for present day needs – this has, we believe, been achieved very successfully.
The provision of a Church Hall – the Moore Memorial Hall – in 1910/11 completed the suite of buildings on the present site. This new Hall, along with the use of an old stable block converted into a Minor Hall, enabled the congregation to develop a range of organisations which reached into the community and to people of all ages. This Hall has been recently extended to provide much needed, and improved, accommodation for all the activities which take place as part of the life of our congregation.
In 1874 a Manse was built on a site about ½ mile from the Church – this is an excellent house which has also been extensively renovated and modernised.