St Mary Magdalene's, Dundee

War and the Depression

By the end of the nineteenth century, the huge membership stimulated a desire to build a much larger church — just off the Hawkhill. A new hall and rectory were built on the site in 1902, but the First World War put an end to this burning ambition. During the war, 117 young men — all confirmed members of the congregation — died, many of them in the Battle of Loos on 25th September 1915, which is still remembered by the people of Dundee who light a beacon on the Law on that day each year. A pair of memorial windows was dedicated in 1921 in memory of those who had died. These windows were moved to the Resurrection Chapel in the new church in 1952. The cost of maintaining the newly-built halls was too great a burden for the congregation and had to be sold. Canon John Shepherd, who was Rector from 1908–1922, was obliged to move to a quieter parish after all the stress and sorrow of these wartime years.

His place was taken by Dean Joseph Jobberns (1923–1936), who was renowned for his generosity to the poor and needy during the years of the Depression. He had already been a curate at St Mary Magdalene's; he ministered faithfully to the congregation and built up the New Church Fund from £2,367 to £8,000. But the strain and stress of looking after such a large congregation took its toll, and he died at the altar of the old church on St Mary Magdalene's Day, 22nd July 1936. The commemorative plaque has been preserved and is now affixed to the sanctuary step in the new church.

 
Canon Shepherd

Canon Shepherd

 
Dean Jobberns

Dean Jobberns

 
 
Rev MacColl

Rev MacColl

 
Canon Drake

Canon Drake

His successor, Rev Malcolm MacColl (1936–1940), possessed extreme left wing views and had strong links with "Red" Clydeside and Irish nationalists. In early 1940, there was a sudden outbreak of IRA attacks in mainland Britain and Mr MacColl, without any warning, vanished on the eve of Ash Wednesday. He later reappeared as Priest-in-charge of St John's, Ballachulish. For his replacement, the Bishop sought a safe pair of hands, and chose Rev Frederick Drake (1940–1952).

Canon Drake had a passion for reorganization, and during his time at St MM immense changes took place. In September 1944, he closed down the two missions — All Saints' and Holy Trinity — and brought all the family back under one roof. To make the mission people feel at home, candles appeared on the altar in Blinshall Street for the first time. This greatly upset Mr David Blackadder, a local lawyer, who was Rector's Warden, People's Warden, Vestry Secretary and Treasurer, Lay Representative, Lay Elector and Treasurer of the New Church Fund, and who decided to sever all association with the Church immediately.