The History of Methodism in Bridlington

Report of our meeting held on 27th February 2017

Another near full house of members and a guest enjoyed the Rev. John Fisher’s illustrated talk about the history of Methodism in Bridlington. John grew up and was schooled in Bridlington. He then trained and became a Methodist minister in Lancashire and elsewhere before retiring to Flamborough.

John first gave a brief history of Methodism. John Wesley founded the movement. He was born in Epworth near Doncaster in 1703, one of 19 children. He travelled the country on horseback covering up to 5000 miles a year, preaching wherever he went. His brother Charles wrote many well known hymns.  John Wesley preached in Bridlington in 1770 after which the local Quay well-to-do Robinson family established a regular place of worship. On a later visit John Wesley tried to preach on Church Green but the Priory Church bells were rung to drown him out.

The Rev John explained that Methodists were “renowned for falling out”, the two main factions being the Primitives and the Wesleyans until the reunification in 1932. When the first Chapels were built, Old Town (Burlington) and Quay were separate communities and each built their own Wesleyan and Primitive Chapels. Growing congregations necessitated extensions and rebuilds in the 1800’s.

In Quay, Chapel Street had one Chapel of each faction. The Primitive Chapel closed in 1969 and stood were Iceland is now. It replaced the first Primitive Chapel in Quay which was built on the Esplanade in 1821.

Many will remember the demolition of the old Wesleyan Chapel which closed in 1999 to make way for the Promenades shopping centre. The frontage which could not be saved and the organ open to the elements were sad sights. Strangely, the other end of the shopping centre is the site of another Chapel fronting onto the Promenade. It was built by a different faction of Methodism about 1850 and closed in 1957.

St John’s Street was the site of the Old Town’s Methodist Churches. The present St John’s Burlington Methodist Chapel was designed in the “Italian” style by architect Joseph Earnshaw and building started in 1883. They moved from a building of 1803 which is now part of the West Building Supplies outlet. What is now the Coop shop was the Primitive Chapel built in 1877. The Primitives moved from a smaller Chapel on the other side of the street. This was demolished when St John’s Street was widened in the early 1900’s.

John then gave a quick review of the Methodist Chapels in the surrounding villages. The glass in the Rose window in Sewerby once adorned the Chapel on the Promenade. The oldest Chapel still in use is that at Barmston, built in 1839.

After a lively series of questions and comments the Prior Rick Hudson asked Kay Kenny to give the vote of thanks.  She thanked John for his description of Methodism and the Chapels in Bridlington which certainly got members talking.