Filey Ebenezer Primitive Methodist chapel
Fishermans Chapel, Union Street, FILEY, YO14 9BY
In 1823 at a meeting of the Primitive Methodist Society in Bridlington it was almost decided that Filey was a hopeless cause and it would be impossible to establish a Primitive Methodist Society there. However, John Oxtoby, a preacher born near Pocklington, asked for a final attempt to convert the people of Filey. He was very successful and in the words of Canon Cooper of Filey, the town was “turned upside down”.
The Fishermen of Filey became staunch Primitive Methodists and the townn became known for the uprightness of its inhabitants rather than being a fishing place of great notoriety. For example, they did not fish on Sundays and one in ten catches was sold to finance the chapel. They started spreading the Gospel in song and this was the start of the Filey Fishermen’s Choir, still active in 2015.
There’s a note in the Primitive Methodist magazine (August 1859 pages 503-4)) saying Filey chapel was “being considerably enlarged” in 1859. In February 1860 the enlargement is reported by CK as complete. They doubled the size of the chapel and added a schoolroom by buying two available cottages; it now held 600-700 (in a town of 2,000 – and was still not big enough. The cost of enlargement was £500 of which £200 had been raised.
Opening preachers were Revs J Dodsworth and T Bennett. Donations of note came from W Boreman and J Crossley (visiting from Halifax).
Ebenezer chapel itself was opened in 1870. In 1932, when the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist Connexions were merged, both the Wesleyan and Ebenezer Methodist Churches continued side by side and significant differences between their congregations remained. The Wesleyan chapel had a more formal style of worship which included a robed choir whilst Ebenezer catered for Filey’s fishermen. By 1975 less than a handful of fishing families continued to support Ebenezer and in 1975 the building was shut.
Ebenezer was turned into a builders warehouse and shops for several years as shown in Keith Guyler’s photograph in 1999. By the time of Google Street View in 2009 it had been converted into a block of flats called Fisherman’s Chapel. It still carries the wording Primitive Methodist Connexion 1870.
Irene E Allen and Andrew A Todd recount engaging stories of the Primitive Methodists in Filey and the Ranter Chapel revival in their book ”Filey – a Yorkshire fishing town”
Irene E Allen and Andrew A Todd ”Filey – a Yorkshire fishing town”
Primitive Methodist magazine February 1860 page 114