Middlesbrough Gilkes Street Primitive Methodist chapel

Photo:Middlesbrough Gilkes Street Primitive Methodist chapel

Middlesbrough Gilkes Street Primitive Methodist chapel

Handbooks of the Primitive Methodist Conference 1914 and 1932; Englesea Brook Museum

location of former Gilkes Street Primitive Methodist chapel

65 Gilkes Street Middlesbrough TS1 5AP

By Christopher Hill

The former Primitive Methodist chapel in Gilkes Street  by 2016 has become Gilkes Street Artists Studios. Although the front is much altered, it still retains its date stone - erected 1867; enlarged 1899 & 1913.  The Artists website lists some of the things the building was used for after its closure as a chapel.

W.M. Patterson tells the early history of Gilkes Street chapel in “Northern Primitive Methodism” (1909).  

“The story of Gilkes  Street…..is a romance.  The society [of Primitive Methodists] had its “day of small things”, but it had its men and women who attempted great things for God.  That their zeal was wisely directed has been manifest by the erection of the capacious church to seat 850 people, in 1878, after worshipping for a few years in the large school room they had put up on a portion of the land. The church was speedily attended by one of the largest congregations in the rapidly-growing town. But it was the remarkable revival which began in the summer of 1897, and went on for four years, which attracted the attention of the religious world to such an extent that an ardent spirit has declared that the fame of Gilkes Street has gone out “through all Christendom”. John Dickinson, in simple terms and from a glowing heart, has told the tale of the marvellous upheaval in a booklet. From this recital we learn that for some time prior to the outbreak, a few in Gilkes Street had been pleading with God for a revival. The ministers Robert Hind and William Younger shared the anxiety, and on Sunday night, June 6th, 1897, one soul was converted at the service conducted by Mr. Hind.  
“This,” exclaims Mr. Dickinson, “was the beginning of a revival which will never end. “ During the week James Flanagan preached and lectured for two days, and the fire rose to white heat.  On the following Sunday, Mr. Younger preached like a man inspired, and seven young men and maidens surrendered themselves to the  Lord.  
Pentecostal seasons followed in the church and in the school, as many as twenty-four penitents being at the communion rail at the close of a Sunday evening service.  The united camp meeting in July was declared by a veteran, who had been at some notable meetings of the kind, to have exceeded any he had ever known in the past for spiritual power and influence. The love feasts at Gilkes  Street and Linthorpe Road baffled all description, twenty-four seeking the Lord at the former place and fourteen at the latter. 

And so the work went on, young and old entering at the morning service as well as the evening.  Upon one meeting the power of the Lord was so mighty that the people were almost lifted out of their seats, and Mr. 
Hind declared that he had never felt anything like it in all his life.  Tom Sykes, while at Manchester College, spent such a day at Middlesbrough as he will never forget. Penitents were sought out in their homes. Young men, after leaving the services, and walking some distance away, would turn back, and march straight to the front for forgiveness. Drunkards and gamblers became willing disciples of Jesus.  On a day of special prayer on behalf of the children, J.G.Soulsby and Richard Stork visited the school, and over seventy voluntarily dedicated themselves to the Lord. “Though it is four years since the revival began,” says the writer of the pamphlet in 1901, “we are still in the midst of a grand work.”  And let it be noted that the visitation began in the summer time, that no extra human agent was engaged, and that there was never a special meeting held apart from the ordinary work on the plan.  

“The Holy Ghost did the work, and did it effectively.”

However, all was not as well as it would appear to be! On the 6th November 1883 a ‘Chinese Fancy Fair’ was held at the Oddfellow’s Hall to raise money towards reducing the very heavy debt of £2,850 which remained from the Gilkes Street Church and Baxter Street School.

Things must have improved financially as on Wednesday 30th October 1889 there was a Foundation Stone ceremony – the memorial stones of the new schools were to be laid.  The ceremony started at 2.30pm and was followed by a “monster tea” in the Temperance Hall in Gilkes Street at 4 o’clock.  Tickets cost 1 shilling each. There was also a great public meeting in the church at 7 o’clock. Collections were taken at the stone laying and at the meeting on behalf of the building fund."


 

References

W M Patterson 1909 Northern Primitive Methodism

Gilkes Street Artists Studios website http://www.gilkesstreetartists.co.uk/gilkes-street-history.html accessed March 17th 2016 

This page was added by Christopher Hill on 17/03/2016.

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