South Shields - Primitive Methodists (1830)

We must now record the commencement of a mission to the Norman Isles, now more commonly called the Channel Islands, being situated in the British Channel. They are within sight of the coast of Normandy, in France, from which they are but a few miles distant. Some sailors from Guernsey, one of the principal islands of the group, had attended some meetings of extraordinary power, in the Primitive Methodist chapel, at South Shields, where a revival of religion was progressing —and being favourably impressed, were wishful for a missionary to be sent to their native island. A great revival of religion had happily occurred in the neighbouring town of Sunderland and its vicinity, and that circuit was therefore able to undertake a new mission, especially as its mission in Edinburgh had been transferred to another circuit. Sunderland and South Shields Circuit agreed to send a missionary to the Islands in question, — and M. George Cosens, a native of the West Indies, and a person of colour was selected for the purpose.

From, ‘The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion from its origin, by John Petty, 1860, p248

Additional Information

The class-leaders in the loft were Edward Nettleship, John Robinson, and Joshua Hairs, and they and their fellow-worshippers began to build a chapel in the spring of 1823 to seat 900 people, on land belonging to St. Hilda’s Glebe, on the west side of Cornwallis Street. At the foundation-stone laying the collection amounted to £3 14s. 3d. The building of the edifice was not contracted for; it was done by the day and paid for as the work proceeded. Much of the work, such as preparing the site, etc., was undertaken by the members themselves. The ultimate cost of the chapel and the cottages alongside was £1,600, and none of the poor but enthusiastic members—except, perhaps, the three leaders—seemed to have realised at the start the greatness of the undertaking into which they had launched. The work came to a standstill for want of funds; and when John Robinson witnessed the distress of his brethren—they were having a prayer meeting when he arrived—he advanced £460, and some smaller sums were advanced by others, When the building was a mere shell, the first service in it took place on August 24th, 1823. Until the society was in a position to sustain the responsibility, John Robinson took upon himself the whole financial burden; and his son John, who was so long circuit steward, was a true son of his father in rendering financial help in various directions, in which, and all other good works, he was supported by his excellent wife. The following story has been often told concerning the first Glebe Chapel

“A couple of gentlemen, passing down the lane by the side of St. Hilda’s Church, came within sight of the chapel, which was approaching completion. One of them exclaimed: What building is this?’ Before his friend had time to reply, a boy, who was playing among the rubbish, said: ‘Oh, sir, its the Ranters’ Chapel.’ ‘The Ranters’ Chapel,’ echoed the gentleman; ‘why, how in the world have those folk got a building like this?’ ‘If ye gan aroond the other side, ye’ll see,’ quickly responded the lad. The gentlemen, following the advice of the youth, went round to the other side of the building, and read this inscription on the wall: ‘Hitherto the Lord hath helped us.’” Devout men and women toiled in the first Glebe (in which Hugh Bourne preached in 1829) for forty-two years. In 1865 it was pulled down and rebuilt, but in the next quarter of a century the character of the neighbourhood changed, the town developed enormously, another site was obtained, the chapel was sold, and on April 23rd, 1889, the late Mrs John Robinson, whose husband had at that time been a member sixty-six years and for a great portion of that period arm official, laid the foundation-stone of the present Glebe Church —for the name is still retained—in Westoe Lane.

From 'Northern Primitive Methodism' by W M Patterson, p228-241.

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