Soon after the Nelsons, another remarkable man was stationed at Sunderland Nathaniel West, an Irishman, over six feet in height, only a few years before known as Corporal West of the King s Bays, and who eventually went to the United States, where he became a D.D. and chaplain to the Federal Forces. West had not been long on the ground when he wrote:
"A very blessed and glorious work has gone on for some time in Sunderland and the neighbouring collieries. In Sunderland and Monkwearmouth (which is a village on the opposite side of the river from Sunderland) we have nearly 400 members. In Lord Steward s and Esquire Lambton s collieries we have near 400 more! Some of the most abandoned characters have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Indeed, the Lord and the poor colliers are doing wonderfully. . . . On some occasions (for want of time to wash themselves), they are constrained to come black to the preaching, or else miss the sermon. And when the Lord warms their hearts with His dying love, and they feel Him precious in His word, the large and silent tears rolling down their black cheeks, and leaving the white streaks behind, conspicuously portray what their hearts feel."
Writing on December 8th, after the first quarter day, when 962 members were reported, "leaving out South Shields and her towns, which are a circuit of themselves," showing an increase for the quarter of over 400 (" taking in Stockton and her few towns "), the ex-soldier continues to speak of the blessed prospect.
"We have got our large chapel at Sunderland covered in," he says and adds that some useful men had lately joined them. Revivals proceeded during the winter at Sunderland, Shiney Row, New Penshaw, Philadelphia, South Hylton, and other villages, bringing the total membership of the circuit up to nearly 1,300. In and about Shiney Row and Philadelphia signal manifestations continued. On Sunday, April 11th, 1824, there was a love-feast at the former place conducted by Nathaniel West and William Taylor. The attendance was so great that two places had to be utilized, a barn and Joseph Fawcett s house and there was a mighty time in both.
‘Northern Primitive Methodism’ by W M Patterson, published in 1909, p245-7.