The 1897 Primitive Methodist Magazine reports the opening of a new school chapel at New Hirst. It was the only place of worship in the village at that point – “although the publicans were not slow in planting themselves down amid this rapidly growing population”.
The 1898 Primitive Methodist Magazine tells us the building was one of several new chapels to meet the needs of the residents of the rapidly expanding mining area around Ashington. As part of this they “provided a place of worship in the adjoining village of New Hirst.”
The Christian Messenger tells us more:
“The marvellous progress of Ashington has however been eclipsed by the rapid rise of the contiguous place of HIRST. The railway divides the two. About eleven years ago Hirst only contained twelve inhabitants. To-day its people number 14,000. Nor has it reached its zenith. There is a likelihood of several hundred more houses being erected. The property is chiefly occupied by men working at the Ashington mines. Hence the long, monotonous street. The place is not without its Primitive Methodist Church. After cottage services had been held for a while a school-chapel costing £763 was built in 1896. Although large, it soon proved to small. Extension became imperative. There was a great financial difficulty, though sufficient faith. In 1903 a large church was built, which with the organ added £2,667 value to the property. There is necessarily a heavy debt. Critics condemn the incurring such debts, but what can be done? Methodism has a large influence, and there is a compulsion to provide for the people’s deepest needs. What a problem the place is to those spiritually concerned! What an abundance of suitable material, but, alas! the means are not so plentiful!”
The 1921 Ordnance Survey map shows a Primitive Methodist chapel on Second avenue at the junction with Sycamore Street. On the 1897 map there is no housing to the south of Second Avenue; the chapel was built on the very edge of the village.
Street View in 2009 shows two chapel buildings next to each other. The larger, to the south is occupied by Ashington Salvation Army Citadel; to the north is a smaller, older chapel building. Was this the 1898 chapel? Engraved stones have been obscured or worn away.
Primitive Methodist Magazine November 1898 page 876
Christian Messenger 1907/12