The first Free Presbyterian service in London was held on 27th November 1898 and was attended by about two hundred people (FPM Vol. 3 p.356). No further services were held until 10th November and 15th December 1907 when the preachers were Rev. Alexander Macrae and Rev. J.S. Sinclair respectively .
On 26th February 1908, a committee was formed at the Bow Street Police Station with the intention of organising regular FP services, at first monthly and then weekly. William Grant, later Rev. William Grant, Halkirk, was the Secretary (see his Minute Book in the FP Archives, Inverness). The next service was held on March 29th with Rev. Neil Cameron as preacher. Three hundred circulars announcing this service were printed and distributed, see Notice of London FP services on March 29, 1908 (pdf). The congregation became a mission station later that year (‘Rev. William Grant’, p.16).
Among those who provided supply were DM Macdonald, Divinity student, summer 1908; A Mackay, Divinity student, winter 1908-9; D. Campbell, 1909; and Thomas Cameron, Divinity student, April 1908, December 1909, May 1910. In October 1915, Rev. D.M. Macdonald was appointed ordained missionary for a few months (see Roll of Pupils, Aberdeen Grammar School, p.277). In 1920 Angus Fraser was appointed missionary. According to the late Nancy Macbeth, Shieldaig, the average attendance in the 1920s was about fifty.
In April 1927, there were fourteen communicant members in the congregation and ninety adherents. The Building Fund stood at £165. The congregation became a sanctioned charge in May 1927 and the first minister was Rev. J.P. MacQueen, 1936-1961. His call was signed by 129 people. The same year the congregation received a legacy of £1250 from the late Miss McKintosh, Norfolk House, Park Lane, and latterly of Inverness. Subsequent ministers have been Rev. D.B. Macleod, 1962-1971; Rev. M. MacInnes, 1973-1977; Rev. A. McPherson, 1979-1992; Rev. K.M. Watkins, 1993-2001; and Rev. J. MacLeod, 2004-date.
The congregation met in the Eccleston Hall from 1908 to 1917 and again from 1922 until its destruction by fire on 23rd April 1956; and in St Philip’s Hall, Buckingham Palace Rd (later called St Michael’s Hall) from 1917 to 1922 and again from 1956 to 1974. The Varden St chapel presently used was opened by Mr JK Popham in 1922 and was purchased from the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists in 1974.
In detail, the Sabbath meeting places have been as follows:
March 29th 1908 – February 1917: Eccleston Hall (also referred to as the Conference Hall).
February – May 1917: Hall at 109 Eaton Terrace.
May 1917 – April 1922: St Philip’s Hall.
April 1922 – April 22nd 1956: Eccleston Hall (closed for about a month in September 1926).
Eccleston Hall fire on 23rd April 1956.
April 29th – October 14th 1956: Bridewell Hall.
October 21st 1956 – June 15th 1974: St Michael’s Hall (being the same building as St Philip’s Hall).
June 22nd 1974 – present: Zoar Chapel in Varden Street.