Newcastle upon Tyne Nelson Street Primitive Methodist chapel and Edward Bell

I have for some time been trying to work out who my great-grandfather Thomas Bell really was, my Dad thinks he was adopted.  There is no birth record, but I did have some clues in the form of a marriage and death certificate and some possible census data for 1871 and 1881.  I worked out from that and later census data I know is correct he was born between July and November 1862 in Lamesey or Wrekenton, Co.Durham.  The next useful but contradictory bit of information was the 1939 census data which gave a birth date of 9 December 1862.

One really useful piece of information was on his marriage certificate.  The name of his father, Edward Bell a Merchant.    After much searching, I found trade directories and eventually a will which made finding the rest of Edward’s family fairly straightforward, except that the family included 3 Edward Bells all grocers, corn merchants or provisions dealers. It also gave me the name of the first Edward’s wife Barbara and after much delving I have found their marriage certificate and the connection with Primitive Methodists,they were married at Nelson Street chapel in Newcastle upon Tyne.

My search goes on. I think Edward and Barbara were his adoptive parents, I now think, following Barbara’s trail, he might not have been born in Co Durham but I wonder if he was baptised a Methodist in the Wrekenton or Eighton Banks area in late 1862 or 1863, if so where? I would love to see a photo of the Nelson Street chapel where Edward and Barbara were married.

Comments about this page

  • Contribution by Richard Jennings, Regional Methodist Archivist: “I recently discovered the site plans of the (Nelson Street) building, mis-filed, at the CRO in Newcastle for the last 40 years! They said they had no records of the chapel and kept referring me back to Ballast Hills PM (which had nothing to do with Nelson St. really). The University of Dublin who hold many architect’s building plans, suggested that I look for Marshall & Tweedy at the CRO though this again drew a blank. But for Angus & Co. they had one batch of records and bingo! there was the building plan of Nelson Street! A long story, I know, but I was truly delighted with the find and it answered a myriad of questions I had.”

    By Christopher Hill (25/09/2019)
  • Thankyou Richard. This is very interesting. Since my post, I have found Thomas Bell’s birth mother and her family. I am still working on who his birth father was.

    By Glynis Hargreaves (25/09/2019)
  • Nelson Street Chapel was sold in 1898 to Angus & Co. Ltd (later absorbed into John Lewis Ltd.) Marshall & Tweedy were a firm of architects in Newcastle upon Tyne who drew up new plans for the site for Angus & Co. that included warehousing and office space. The building plans (along with those of Nelson St Chapel) are held at Tyne & Wear Archives.
    Only the frontage of this later building survives – the interior was demolished to make way for Eldon Square shopping centre.

    By Richard Jennings (24/09/2019)
  • Glynis,

    The following website,, provides the following information about Nelson Street PM Chapel, Newcastle upon Tyne.

    Built in 1838. It remained as a place of worship until 1899 when the premises were taken over by Messrs. Marshall and Tweedy. Their 1899 warehouse survives on the site.

    By Geoff Dickinson (21/02/2016)

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