Registered Charity SC005224

Our History

The Kilbarchan General Society was founded in 1765 and is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, charitable institution of its type in Scotland. It was formed from several other institutions which operated in the village. The following pages give some of the history of the General Society, details of the current activities of the General Society along with contact details if you would wish to learn more of our work or even become a member. We hope you enjoy your visit and hope to see you at one of our events or Lilias Day, where the General Society Preses leads the historical pageant to the village park.

The General Society was formed in December 1765 from several other institutions which operated in the village. The management team, that is the Preses and the Managers, believe it is the oldest continuous operating charity in Scotland. The records show that the founders of the General Society were “Twenty-four Heritors, Merchants and Tradesmen” of the village. At that time anyone wishing to join the General Society needed to be over the age of 18, be of sound health, of honest character and known diligence in their business, and as such not received charity from any fund for the space of three years preceding their application to be admitted. Today’s application process is much more straightforward although we hope that those current members could say they fitted the above criteria.

The well known local writer and author Helen Calcluth has some interesting facts on other groups operating in the village including “The Font Committee” often referred to as the “Committee of Town Management”. The General Society are now custodians of the Font Committee records, but you can read more of their history by reading Helen’s work at

The Society has its own premises located in the Steeple Halls  gifted to them by the Laird of Milliken estate and this is called “The Ladies Room”, as it is purported to be where ladies from the wider community attending the local parish church rested between services. The Old Parish of Kilbarchan took in Bridge of Weir and Linwood in that era.