The Census of Place of Public Religious Worship contains an entry by William Clemitson, the Minister, for a Primitive Methodist preaching place in St John’s Chapel in Weardale. Attendance in the morning was 60 people with a Sunday school of 51 scholars. In the evening 46 people attended.
The Primitive Methodist magazine of February 1853 contains an account by the same William Clemitson of the opening of St John’s Primitive Methodist chapel. At the time St John’s was a market town with a rapidly increasing population and the society could not meet the local demand, especially in the Sunday school.
Begging for funding throughout Weardale raised £100 towards the overall £390 cost; a piece of land was bought from Edward Shafto of Durham; stones for the building were taken – for free- from the River Wear; all materials were carried to the site for free.
Rev H Hebbron of Sunderland laid the foundation stone on May 4th 1852. He and Rev J Lightfoot preached sermons. Opening celebrations started with a tea meeting for 420 on November 20th 1852and continued with further services and another tea meeting. Additional preachers included CC M’kechnie, J Dawson, G Watson, G Race, Mr G Lamb (Brigg), J Nattrass (Carlisle) W Clemitson.
The chapel was 42′ x 33′ and 24′ high, roofed with Welsh slate, with a gallery supported by cast iron pillars on three sides and accommodation for 350.
This page originally confused the former Primitive Methodist chapel in St John’s Chapel with the Wesleyan Methodist one. Thanks to David Heatherington of the Weardale Museum for unscrambling the confusion. You can see a picture of the Wesleyan Methodist chapel here. In 2021 it was being renovated for residential use.
Primitive Methodist magazine February 1853 pp.121-122