Blue Quarries Primitive Methodist Society, Gateshead
The Primitive Methodists – or “Ranters” as they were affectionately known, began to meet in the hamlet of Blue Quarries in 1821 or 1822 – Circuit Minute books relate different dates under different headings though confirm that the Society was properly commenced on 28th July 1823. In 1822, permission was given by the Circuit to knock together two semi-detached houses so that the upper rooms could form a bigger meeting room. One of these houses – probably the original single one that the Methodists occupied – was the home of Rebecca Dixon and this was registered with the Bishop of Durham on 17th January 1824 as a Methodist Meeting House.
By 1829, the Trustees were complaining to the Gateshead PM Circuit that the chapel building was too small and would need to be extended or a new building erected. The entry in the Minutes also describes the interior to some effect.. “Seating is in the form of back-less benches with no cushions and is lit with candles affixed to the walls”.
The congregation of the Primitive Methodist chapel consisted primarily of quarrymen and whilst we, today, would not take kindly to an early morning service every week, the Trustees at Blue Quarries timed their services to fit around the quarrymen’s shifts and so, during the summer months, services were held in Church Quarry (now the site of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital) at six o’clock in the morning. The preacher stood at the bottom of the old quarry hole and the audience – frequently numbering hundreds – sat on the sloping edge, as in an amphitheatre.
A new or extended chapel was never built and we don’t know where exactly the cottages were located. We do know that membership stood at 16 in 1862 and had been on the decline for some time. In 1866, the Circuit Meeting decided that the Society were to remain on the Plan but would not receive any appointments of preachers. Later that year, the chapel was closed and the members told to unite with the Gateshead Fell PM Chapel.