Last modified 15 July 2018
Bee’s Creative ©2006 - 2018 WHR Methodist
Bethesda New Connexion Chapel was built in 1836 in an open field in Barn Close (a road now runs over the site). It opened on Good Friday 1836, 1,500 - 1,700 people were present! The Church served the neighbourhood for 60 years, with many notable preachers being stationed there, including Revd. William Booth and his wife, prior to them leaving to form the Salvation Army.
After 1890 it was realised that Gateshead was growing Southward away from the River Tyne.
Whitehall Road was built by Mr. Alex Pringle, who later built the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. Whitehall Road New Connexion Church with Vestry and Lounge, was opened
on 29th February 1896.
In 1907 the Methodist New Connexion, The Methodist Free Church and The Bible Christians joined together to form the United Methodist Church of which Whitehall Road became part.
During the 1914 - 1918 War the premises were used by the Military so services had to be curtailed.
Then in 1932, Wesleyan, Primitives and United Methodist Churches became “The Methodist Church”.
Alterations and improvement have been made to the premises over the years, notably to side classrooms and stage, in order to facilitate room for the many activities taking place on the premises.
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The building is Gothic in the decorative style with
terracotta and stone dressing. Main external features are the large tracery window in the front gable and the tower and spire at the corner.
The church is built in the form of a cross, and originally held a congregation of 550. The roof is open timbered with cross beams.
During 1897, the beautiful organ was removed from Bethesda, rebuilt and installed in the site it now occupies at the front of the church. Prior to the installation of electricity the Trustees employed an old man to pump the bellows by hand. He sat behind a curtain (where the wood screens are now). Often he went to sleep during the sermon and had to be wakened before the organist could play the organ! The organ still serves us well to this day.
Early in the 1920s electricity was installed, prior to this the whole premises were lit by gas, mostly chandelier type with 6 gas mantles and globes. If the church became dark, during a thunderstorm for example, the Caretaker was in charge of a long pole with hook and taper, and it was his job to march down the aisle and light the mantles.
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The large stained glass window in the gallery is based on symbols known in pre-Christian days. The Zodiac was much studied then and thought so important that the early Christians were depicted in this way (as in the four small medallions), Matthew - Aquarius the angel (or water carriers), Mark - Leo the lion, Luke - Taurus the bull and John - Libra the eagle. The twelve constellations of the Zodiac are the twelve disciples on the top circular window around the cross. The two letters A and O in Greek style are Alpha and Omega; the “first and the last”, or the “beginning and the end”.
(Unfortunately Matthew’s medallion was broken many years ago, and the replacement is not as clear as the original).
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The beautiful St. Margaret stained glass window, (made by Thompson & Smee of Gateshead)
was purchased in memory of Mrs. Margaret Greener, by her husband, a prominent coal
exporter and shipbroker.
There are at least six St. Margaret’s, but this window depicts St. Margaret of Scotland (1046).
She was noted in both private and public for her active participation in the advancement of religion by spiritual and temporal care of the people - hence the window shows a small child, the plans for church building and working conditions in the background. The depiction of Faith, Hope and Charity, signifies her life’s work.
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In 1982 the church was refurbished and pews were removed from both transepts at the front of the church. The East transept was turned in to a Prayer Corner, which can be used by anyone who would like to sit quietly in prayer, or ask to be prayed with. This corner is also used to display food being collected for Gateshead Foodbank.
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In 1982 the church was refurbished and pews were removed from both transepts at the front of the church. The west transept was turned in to a Children's Corner, where work produced by both the Girls' Brigade and Sunday Club, could be displayed.
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