George Smith, formerly of Gateshead and the son of Edward B Smith who was a prominent member of the New Bethesda New Connexion Methodist Church in Gateshead, can be said to be the prime mover in establishing the Deans New Connexion Church.
George Smith, an engineer, moved from Gateshead to South Shields in 1876 to set up an ironfounding business with a Mr Henderson, in Nile Street.
George was an active member of the New Connexion Church. They lived at no. 4 Florence Street, just a short distance from the eventual Chapel site.
In notes prepared by Edward Smith (son of George) we can follow the history of this Church Community:
“Pleased to say I’m proud to belong to Deans Church. I’ve been here since I was about 7 or 8; perhaps it would be as well if I gave you a few of my recollections of the start of the cause here.
It really began 67 years ago (1882), after some Evangelical Services at Zion New Connexion Chapel in Laygate Lane, conducted by Mr E P Telford of Stockton.
During his Mission 100’s of people professed conversion and in order to give these converts something to do, the Leaders of Zion Church started cottage prayer meetings each week.
Among the places chosen was The Deans, then a very small village, consisting of Francis Street, one side of Alexander Street, one side of Florence Street, 4 houses in Conway Terrace and about the same in Dean Terrace and a few in Dean Road.
And soon the small houses, filled with furniture, could not hold those anxious to come to the meetings, so we got a small upstairs room opposite the present Sunday School door, for a few weeks, and it, in turn was too small and other accommodation had to be found and the Mission Band made a bold venture and plans were passed for the present Church and small Vestry.
The next addition was building a school; it was built. The length was yet the breadth of this Church.
The Church and school soon became too small and so my devoted father (George Smith), gave the Church his house and extended the Schoolroom to the present size and constructed the Classrooms and Infant School out of his late home in Dean Road. Made the moving partition that could be used to accommodate worshippers where required.
We had to move the organ and the pulpit to the other end of the church. It is not ideal but was all we could do.
We are not so well attended now, but there are very few Churches in the town who have not some of their members and workers who were instructed in our Sunday School”
These notes were prepared in 1949 on the occasion of a presentation to Edward Smith, J R Curbison and J Thornton marking their combined service of nearly 150 years to the Deans United Methodist Church, South Shields.
After the death of Edward Smith in 1955 the Chapel Trustees arranged for a Memorial Plaque to be erected in the Chapel
Edward Smith, Justice of the Peace, Officier de L’Academie Francais. A loyal and devoted Methodist, whose life was spent in service to the Church and Sunday School. He was steadfast in duty, generous in giving, charitable to all. Mayor of South Shields 1921-23. Entered Higher Service February 6th 1955. This tablet is erected as a tribute to his memory by members of the Deans Methodist Church.
The closure of the Church coincided with the eightieth chapel anniversary on Sunday 14th October 1962
“The Deans Chapel is being taken over by the South Shields Corporation in connection with their redevelopment programme, in return they promise to provide facilities for the Methodist Church to build a new Chapel and Youth Centre to commence work on the Whiteleas estate.”
A replacement church was built on the Whiteleas estate but this has also closed.