Gateshead; Fife Street Methodist New Connexion

In 1850, the Newcastle-on-Tyne  & Northern Counties Freehold Land Society, strongly influenced by temperance as well as political motives, began to develop an area of the Ellison Estates in Gateshead. The whole estate was named Mount Pleasant with streets of neat houses and individual villa-style homes and the Society sold individual plots at £20 each. The whole estate carried a restrictive covenant banning the sale of intoxicating liquor, though this was later broken.

Houses on the new estate quickly began to be built and the Trustees at Bethesda Chapel lost no time in seeking out a plot for a new chapel. On 14 November 1853, it was agreed “that the site be purchased by the one adjoining Mr Dimbleby’s house in Cromwell Street” – David Dimbleby was one of the Trustees. The site was duly purchased for £20 and the Deeds drawn up by Mr Swinburne, a noted Gateshead solicitor.

The 200 seat chapel opened in 1855 and in 1859 Rev William Booth became the minister in charge. During Booth’s time here, the membership grew considerably and, despite a shortage of funds and a growing debt, the chapel was extended to accommodate a Sunday School hall at a cost of £400. Further extensions were added in 1875 with toilets and a coal house.

Records are sparse but it appears that the debts and various loans needed to be repaid around 1914 and money was borrowed to meet the deficits. It was not until the 1930s that the chapel was entirely free of money worries.

Following WWII extensive repairs were required particularly in the light of one wall partially collapsing. The Leaders and Trustees considered amalgamating with the Ellison Villas (ex WM) chapel but there were many disagreements and so the matter was allowed to lie until May 1957 when there was a loud crack in the ceiling during the evening service. Investigations found that the walls and ceiling were parting company by as much as four inches and the chapel was forced to close. Some members transferred to Ellison Villas chapel whilst others went to Shipcote (ex WM). The chapel was demolished in the early 1960s and modern housing built on the site.

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