A beacon which can be seen across the city
Roystonhill Spire was originally part of Townhead Parish Church built in 1865 – 66 by the architect J.J. Stevenson of Campbell Douglas and Stevenson.
What remains of Townhead Church now forms the north boundary of the Spire Park. Its doorways, within gothic arches, provide access and views through to the park.
The base of the spire is square, with buttresses and arrowslit windows, leading up to louvred lancets at the fourth level. Clock faces are recessed into each façade. Pinnacles rise from the four corners of the tower and the octagonal cone of the spire tapers to a carved tip. At each pinnacle’s arched base, a gargoyle watches over the city.
The spire is 58m (188 ft) high, and is 74m (243 ft) above sea level on Royston Hill – making it visible from as far as East Kilbride, Cathkin Braes and Glasgow Airport. A local story is that when it was being constructed in 1865 the spire’s masons were able to wave to another group of masons working on a spire in Coatbridge.
When the church was being demolished in 1997, many pieces of decorative stonework were needlessly damaged, including the carved tip, known as a ‘finial’. Once the spire was saved, in 2001, the reinstatement of the main finial was a challenge, and a crane was used to lift the newly-carved replacement stonework into position.
New internal ladders and platforms provided access to new clock mechanisms – one installed in each of the four faces. A new power supply was installed, serving the clock and floodlighting.
Eco-friendly low energy lighting was also installed by Rosemount Development Trust in 2020.
The original Townhead bell was one of the heaviest ever cast by the firm John C Wilson & Co of ‘Gorbals Brass & Bell Foundry’. It was sold in the 1950s to raise funds for church roof repairs. According to church legend it was made into 3 smaller bells, one of which was used on a boat. The bell had been hung for swing chiming, and a bell rope can be seen in old photographs of the base of the spire. By 1958 the original bell had been replaced with a smaller bell which in turn was sold when the church was closed in the early 1990s.