Gateshead Primitive Methodist chapel

Recovery from the loss of a large chapel imprudently erected

The Primitive Methodist Magazine for March 1854 contains an account by W Dent of the opening of Gateshead Primitive Methodist chapel.  

But this is a chapel with a story behind it that Mr Dent hints at but does not reveal. He writes, “in the history of Primitive Methodism in Gateshead, there are some things which it is wise to pass over in silence.”  However, he excuses the present members who  have no “occasion to hold down their heads while remembering these things, having been sufferers from the misdoings of others.”

The only glimpse he gives is a reference to “the loss of the large chapel in 1840 which had been imprudently erected about two years before (which meant that) the society was reduced to a condition of distress and reproach.  …  Many who in the day of prosperity appear very zealous, in the day of adversity lose all their courage and all their attachment to a good cause.”

The recovery started with the opening of a small room in West Street, and as things progressed  an effort to raise funds for a new chapel began in 1850.  It took a while, but a plot of land was acquired from Mr CJ Pearson  for £190 and the foundation stone was laid by “our old and popular friend, Mr H Hebbron,” on Whit Monday (May 16th) 1853. The number of those from “other evangelical denominations” was particularly pleasing.

Building the new chapel was not straightforward – it was hard to find a mortgage and one of the three contractors “fell victim to the fearful epidemic that was then hurrying off so many busy mortals into the eternal world.”  However, the chapel was opened on January 1st 1854.  Next day there was a tea meeting where the addresses were “moderately good.” Opening sermons were preached by W Dent, Mr Hebbron, Mr Hallett and H Kendall of Sunderland.  

The chapel measured 40′ x 41′ outside and accommodated 376 people. There was a school room below the chapel and a double vestry. They had sufficient room for a future gallery should it be needed and land for a house behind the chapel

The article does not say where the chapel was.  On this site there are several Gateshead chapels; how does this chapel relate to them?  Can anyone piece the jigsaw together? 


Primitive Methodist Magazine March 1854 174-177


Comments about this page

  • The Primitive Methodists began meeting in Gateshead Town on 16 November 1819 when Metheun’s Long Room – previously used by the Wesleyans – was rented by them. In 1832, a preaching room was opened in Garden Street and regular services were conducted by preachers from Newcastle.

    The extreme poverty in the Garden Street area (Hillgate) was amongst the factors that resulted in the room being closed and the little Society moving to the Brandy Vaults public house on Church Street. the owners mustn’t have approved of their singing or exhortations as they were expelled from there for being too noisey! From there the Society met in a member’s house (registered at Durham on 2 November 1825) and from another (registered at Durham on 4 May 1833). This latest “house” was known as the Sail Loft and was at Church Walk near to St. Mary’s Parish Church. The building was destroyed in the Great Fire of Gateshead in 1854 when the Wesleyans were using it.

    In 1838, a large chapel was built at the junction of Mulgrave Terrace and Grosvenor Street though they were forced to abandon there shortly afterwards when the Treasurer stole all the chapel’s money. The congregation moved back to Church Walk and from there to Swinburne Place then to a meeting room at West Street.

    The chapel referred too above, is the replacement for all of these and was Nelson Street, opened on 1 January 1854. Nelson Street soon became head of the then Gateshead PM Circuit which covered considerably more than Gateshead.

    As the population moved away from the north of the town and the areas around Hillgate, Oakwell gate, Pipewellgate etc., the congregation numbers began to dwindle and so the Society moved to the Northbourne Estate and built the huge Durham Road PM Church which closed in 1964 when the congregation amalgamated with the former Wesleyans along the road. The ex WM Church then became known as St. Mark’s which it is to this day.

    By Newcastle District Archivist (20/04/2017)

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