John Wesley first passed through the town on his way to Newcastle in 1742. In March 1743 he preached to the colliers of Chowden(e), 'the very Kingswood of the North'. Caught in a snowstorm on Gateshead Fell in February 1745, he vowed 'never again', and there is no further record of him visiting the North East during winter months. He preached for the first time in Gateshead town in September 1745, and in 1753 in a house in Gateshead Fell belonging to William Bell, a baker. A meeting room added to it the following year was possibly the first Methodist chapel in the (then) county of Durham. A Sunday School was opened there in 1789. Wesley also visited several villages and townships now within the Gateshead boundary, including Ryton, Whickham, Swalwell and Lamesley.

Gateshead WM Circuit was formed in 1812 and divided in 1875. Prominent WM ministers stationed there included Hodgson Casson (1827-30) and Peter Mackenzie (1865-68). Maldwyn L. Edwards was the first minister at the Central Hall when it opened in 1933 at the height of the Depression.

The MNC was introduced by Joseph Forsyth, expelled from the WM ministry in 1833, taking with him a large following. In 1835 he allied himself with the MNC. Bethesda Chapel, opened in April 1836, was a notable MNC edifice, where William Booth was minister 1858-61, just before he left the connexion. Another name notoriously linking Gateshead and the MNC was Joseph Barker, expelled in 1841 on doctrinal grounds.

PM arrived in 1821 with the preaching of John Branfoot. A Gateshead Circuit was formed in 1837, although because of financial irregularities it was included in the Newcastle Circuit from 1841 to 1862. The PM author J.G. Bowran ('Ramsey Guthrie') was born there in 1869. The UMFC was represented locally from 1852 by WR, a separate Gateshead Circuit being formed in 1858. There was a small IM group there from 1819, with a chapel opened in 1823.

  • W.M. Patterson, Northern Primitive Methodism (1909)
  • F.W.D. Manders, A History of Gateshead (1973) pp.148-56
  • Julia Hinchliffe, Light on a Hill:the story of Gateshead Methodist Church (York, 2012)