As many of our followers may be aware, Rachael and myself are currently researching Mr. Alf Alexander Webster (1883-1915) stained glass artist and all round superstar. Part of looking for Alf’s work obviously includes stoating about churches and other fabby buildings.
One of these fab buildings is Cadder Parish Church, which has a feast of quirky goods for the heritage geek, including a Mort-Safe and Watch House. If you ever get the chance please do visit!
Last week, I went on a wee jolly/ research trip to Cadder Parish Church in Bishopbriggs. The church is lucky enough to house, not one, but two Alf Webster masterpieces; a stunning Memorial window dedicated to the Rev. James Watt and a second memorial window dedicated to Marion Bell. Before moving on, I would like to give a brief introduction to Mr. Webster. Webster was born at 40 Keir Street in Pollokshields on the 19th December 1883. As a child he attended Pollokshields Parish Church which had an array of stunning Stephen Adam windows. Adam would later be his mentor and friend.
In 1903, Alf registered for evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art and took a variety of courses including architecture modelling and stained glass, and later switching to drawing and painting. It was the study of glass painting and the creation of stained glass windows which would eventually hold his attention. The skills he learned from life drawing classes would transfer into his windows, Webster is well-known for his ability to create incredibly detailed and emotive human faces.
Stephen Adam was instrumental to the development and success of Wesbter’s career as an artist. By 1910 Adam’s had died leaving his studio and firm at 199 Bath Street to his protege Webster, controversially overlooking his son who worked alongside both men, Stephen Adam Junior.
Webster’s career was drastically cut short by the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. Just one month after the birth of his third son, also named Alfred, Webster become the 2nd Lieutenant of the 3rd (reserve) Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders based at the Aberdeen city garrison. Lieutenant Webster was shipped to the front lines in May 1915, after just three months training. Webster sustained serious injuries on patrol duty on the night of the 16th August 1915. Despite ten operations he died of his wounds on the 24th August 1915. There is a memorial window dedicated to Alf in Stamperland Church, Southside of Glasgow. The three lights depict scenes from the Book of Revelation including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The dedication to Alf, which reads ‘Go the glory of god and in remembrance to/ Alfred A Webster/Lieut. 3rd Bn. Gordon Highlanders died of wounds France 24th Aug. 1915′, can be clearly seen at the bottom of the window.
The Rev. James Memorial Window: The window is dedicated to Rev. James W, Minister of the Cadder Parish Church from 1882-1911. The window, which was installed in 1914, is a lovely gift paid for by the congregation and friends of the late Reverend.
The Marion Bell Memorial Window: Installed on the 25th October 1914, the window is dedicated to Marion Bell, wife of locomotive engineer, Sir Hugh Reid. Although the window is strikingly similar to Prayer & Praise in New Kilpartick Church, there are wonderfully appropriate motifs scattered throughout including a ringing bell which add a unique touch.
This is just the tip of the Alf Webster iceberg regarding research……… there is still tons to be discovered. If you would like to learn more about Alf Webster there will be a one day conference held on the 6th November 2015 celebrating the Centenary of Alfred Alexander Webster (1883-1915) at Webster Theatre in Glasgow’s West End. Tickets will go on sale shortly, so stay tuned to our Twitter page and the Glasgow’s Gilded Age page.
All images taken by Karen Mailley-Watt and can not be reused without permission.