The name West Kilbride is derived from St. Bride or Bridget or Bridgid, an “Irish virgin of the fifth century, distinguished for her piety”. Perhaps early missionaries established a cell in her honour. Certainly by the mid 12th century records suggest a chapel in the Seamill area under supervision of the Abbot of Kilwinning.
At the time of the Reformation the Parish Church identified early with the Protestant cause. A list of ministers is recorded from 1567 but in 1843, with the Disruption and the founding of the Free Church, Rev. T. Findlay, who was then the incumbent, left the church of Scotland with a number of his people. Until 1881 they worshipped in Meadowfoot Road from where they came to a newly constructed building known as Overton Church.
A United Presbyterian Church, the successor of a Dissenter congregation in the village, was completed in Ritchie Street in 1882, operating as Overton Church. Nearly a decade earlier in 1873, The Barony Church had been declared open for worship as the newly positioned Parish Church.
After a number of divisions in the 17th and 18th centuries the Presbyterian cause in Scotland began to find common use for uniting. In 1900 the Free Church and United Presbyterian Church came together to form the United Free Church of Scotland. Thus two such congregations functioned in the village until 1929 when the Church of Scotland entered a union with the United Free denomination to continue as the Church of Scotland.
At this point all three congregations became Church of Scotland. When Rev. John Goudie completed his ministry in the Barony Church in 1974 that congregation united with St. Bride’s to form St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland and a decision of the united congregation was made to use the present building.
In 1794 there were about 50 Dissenters in West Kilbride. They walked to Saltcoats for their services and took lanterns with them to light the Meeting House at evening service. The first services at what was known as the Relief Kirk were held in a joiner’s shop in Gateside Street, which was tidied up for the purpose of the Saturday evening.
In 1828 the first Church was built behind the present Manse with its front gable facing Meadowfoot Road. The first Minister was the Rev. Peter Mather, who was ordained on the Law Castle green.
The Rev. James C. Balderston became the Minister in 1868. He was responsible for the building of the Manse in 1876 and the present Church in 1882-83. The first service was held in this Church on the 5th of August, 1883. Against considerable opposition he managed to have the Church built where it now stands at a time when no houses were near. A hundred years ago, the present Ritchie Street was a tree-lined country road leading to Yerton Farm. The name Overton was given because it was on the Overton estate. Mr. Balderston realised that with the coming of the railway the village was going to develop towards the sea and that Glasgow businessmen would build their villas there. He was the Minister until 1904, after a ministry of 36 years.
In 1921 the Rev. J. Wales Cameron came from Edinburgh and was succeeded by the Rev. William Burnside. He was responsible for the buying of Church House next door, which was a great asset especially to the Sunday School. It also provided a house for the Church Officer upstairs. Mr. Burnside retired in the Autumn of 1982 and was succeeded by the Rev. Norman Cruickshank who retired in 2006 to be followed by the Rev. James McNay in January 2008, who was to be the last minister in Overton Church.
In January 2010 both St. Andrew’s and Overton Churches combined to form the new West Kilbride Parish Church with Rev. James McNay as minister of the charge.