Newcastle upon Tyne Nelson Street Primitive Methodist chapel

Nelson Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5AW

Return from Newcastle upon Tyne Nelson Street Primitive Methodist chapel in the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious Worship
transcribed by David Tonks 03/2020
provided by David Tonks
Newcastle upon Tyne Nelson Street Primitive Methodist chapel

In an article in the Primitive Methodist magazine1, George Armstrong tells us about the beginnings of Nelson Street Primitive Methodist chapel.  It replaced the 1826 chapel in Silver Street.

“On November 21st, 1837, the foundation stone of the famous and historic chapel in Nelson Street, was laid by William Clowes. … The chapel was built by Mr. Grainger, to whom Newcastle owes so much in the way of building and architecture.

Its cost was about £3,000, and its seating capacity 900.

It was opened on Sundays, October 7th and 14th, 1838. W. Sanderson was the preacher on the 7th, and J. Bywater and H. Hebbron on the 14th. The Ministers then travelling in the circuit were W. Towler, W. Brining, Jas. Watson and J. Long.  On Monday, October 15th, a Public Meeting was held, with A. White. Esq., M.P. for Sunderland, in the chair. The collections at the opening amounted to £176.”

Mr Grainger was half of the famous Newcastle partnership of builder and property developer Richard Grainger and architect John Dobson, who designed and built the chapel.  it had a font ‘in the Roman style’ 2, could seat 1,111 persons, had a large schoolroom underneath the chapel ‘adapted for the tuition of 500 children’ 3, and was regarded as ‘by far the most superior place of worship owned by the Primitives in the North’ 4.    According to Richard Jennings  it was sold in 1899, demolished, and the site became a warehouse that later was demolished to make way for the Eldon Square shopping centre, although the frontage of the later building still survives.

The 1851 Return to the Census of Places of Public Religious Worship was completed by Andrew McCree.  You can learn more about him here.

The Nelson Street Chapel  was superseded in 1897 by the one in Northumberland Road


1 Primitive Methodist Magazine 1903/477

2 John M. Wilson The Imperial gazetteer of England and Wales vol. II (Edinburgh: Fullarton, 1872) p. 427.

3 Newcastle Journal 25 November 1837 p. 3.

4 H. B. Kendall The origin and history of the Primitive Methodist Church vol. II (London: Edwin Dalton, n.d) p. 196.

Comments about this page

  • My great-grandparents Lancelot Hewison (1826-1891) and Alice Richardson (1831-1904) were married in the Nelson Street Chapel on 11 June 1854. They emigrated to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia shortly thereafter.

    By John Hewison (01/08/2020)
  • In 1851, the very year of the Census of Religious Worship, the architect Thomas Oliver published ‘The topographical conductor, or descriptive guide to Newcastle & Gateshead …’. On page 26 he writes: “NELSON STREET CHAPEL is a place of worship erected for the Primitive Methodists, west of the Music Hall. The exterior front is stone, in the Roman style. The interior size of the chapel is 61 feet 5 inches by 46 feet 9 inches; and is seated to accommodate one thousand and fifty persons.
    On the basement floor is the school-room, or ‘Temperance Hall’, being 45 feet 11 inches by 42 feet 11 inches at the north end, and 28 feet 11 inches by 17 feet 5 inches at the south end, and 12 feet 10 inches high.
    The Primitive Methodists held their first meeting at Nottingham, in 1819. One of their first places of meeting, in Newcastle, was the Butchers’ Hall, in the Friars; in 1823 they occupied the Garth Heads Chapel, but removed, soon after, to Silver Street Chapel, which is now converted into a warehouse.

    By David Tonks (13/04/2020)

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