Gilkes Street Primitive Methodist Chapel (1897)

Over ten years afterwards a commanding site in Linthorpe Road was acquired, and a church was built to accommodate 750 worshippers. The members did not leave their revival fire behind them when they sold old Richmond Street Chapel to the Salvation Army; and when the eventful work broke out in Gilkes Street, Linthorpe Road soon caught the fire.

As has been hinted, the energies of the enthusiastic people in the original society were not confined to Richmond Street all the years they were in it. Societies were planted in new neighbourhoods, which, before Middlesbrough was formed into a circuit, became centres of activity and spiritual force. The story of Gilkes Street, for example, is a romance. The society had its "day of small things," but it had its men and women who attempted great things for God. That their zeal was wisely directed has been manifest, and the erection of the capacious church to seat 850 people, in 1878, after worshipping for a few years in the large school-room they had put upon a portion of the land, was speedily attended by one of the largest congregations in the rapidly-growing town. But it was the remarkable revival which began in the summer of 1897, and went on for four years, which attracted the attention of the religious world to such an extent that an ardent spirit has declared that the fame of Gilkes Street has gone out "through all Christendom." John Dickinson, in simple terms and from a glowing heart, has told the tale of the marvellous upheaval in a booklet. From this recital we learn that for some time prior to the outbreak a few in Gilkes Street had been pleading with God for a revival. The ministers Robert Hind and William Younger shared the anxiety, and on Sunday night, June 6th, 1897, one soul was converted at the service conducted by Mr Hind. "This," exclaims Mr Dickinson, "was the beginning of a revival which will never end." During the week James Flanagan preached and lectured two days, and the fire rose to white heat. On the following Sunday, Mr Younger preached like a man inspired, and seven young men and maidens surrendered themselves to the Lord. Pentecostal seasons followed in the church and in the school, as many as twenty-four penitents being at the communion rail at the close of a Sunday evening service. The united camp meeting in July was declared by a veteran, who had been at some notable meetings of the kind, to have exceeded any he had ever known in the past for spiritual power and influence. The love-feasts at Gilkes Street and Linthorpe Road baffled all description, twenty-four seeking the Lord at the former place and fourteen at the latter. And so the work went on, young and old entering the old at the morning services as well as the evening. Upon one meeting the power of the Lord was so mighty that the people were almost lifted out of their seats, and Mr Hind declared that he had never felt anything like it in all his life. Tom Sykes, while at Manchester College, spent such a day at Middlesbrough as he will never forget. Penitents were sought out in their homes. Young men, after leaving the services, and walking some distance away, would turn back, and march straight to the front for forgiveness. Drunkards and gamblers became willing disciples of Jesus. On a day of special prayer on behalf of the children, J. G. Soulsby and Richard Stork visited the school, and over seventy voluntarily dedicated themselves to the Lord. "Though it is four years since the revival began," says the writer of the pamphlet in 1901, "we are still in the midst of a grand work." And let it be noted that the visitation began in the summertime, that no extra human agent was engaged, and that there was never a special meeting held apart from the ordinary work on the plan. "The Holy Ghost did the work, and did it effectively."

‘Northern Primitive Methodism’ by W M Patterson, published 1909, page 60.

Additional Information

This church is now the Cleveland Craft Centre.

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