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The Nelson Street Chapel was superseded in 1897 by the one in Northumberland Road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