Built in 1884, St Columba’s in Pont Street, Knightsbridge, offered much-appreciated hospitality to nearly 50,000 troops from 1915 until 1919. Identified at London train stations on Saturdays and Sundays, Scottish soldiers were invited back to the church for a wash, a shave and something to eat. Often, they were piped back to the station the next day for their onward journeys – a period of leave or a return to the fighting.
The story of this remarkable Home-Front response, led by Mary Blackwood, is chronicled in the church magazines. One mother wrote in 1916 that “Boys like mine brought up in a country place have very little idea of London, and I am sure it must be a relief to many a mother besides myself to know that there are kindly folks to look after [them]”
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