Newhaven

For many years there were two active Methodist churches in Newhaven. The Wesleyan church was formed in 1894. The foundation stone for a church building, originally known as The Tabernacle, was laid by the Honourable T.S. Brand R.N. on 24 May 1893. On Friday June 7 1895 Mr. W.W. Pocock laid the final stone. Today the building is the headquarters of the Newhaven Sea Scouts. Previous to the opening a Mr. Gosling had sought permission for Methodist services to be held in his barn. The influence of the Rev. G.T. Dixon, Superintendent of the Sussex Mission, led to new chapel schemes in both Newhaven and Seaford. The Wesleyan Circuit in those days extended over a wide area, including Lewes, Brighton, Eastbourne, Bexhill, Tunbridge Wells and Littlehampton.

In contrast, the Primitive Methodist Circuit was based on Eastbourne and Newhaven. The Rev. William Dinnick signed the deeds for a chapel in Newhaven on the east side of South Road on 11 October 1886. The list of Trustees in 1900 shows that the early members consisted mainly of railway workers and local artisans.

On 8 September 1923 the two churches were united in a special service, with the Wesleyan chapel in Chapel Street as the centre of worshjp and activity. The Rev. H.W. Holtby from Brighton, who shared in the service, commented that this local union was ‘an echo of events already taking place in other parts of the country’. At the time of Methodist Union in 1932 there were 50 members and the following year Newhaven became part of the Sussex Mission (later the Mid-Sussex Circuit). By 1935 there were 72 members and a flourishing Sunday School. The minute book on 8 January 1939 recorded that 80 children attended in the morning and 120 in the afternoon. During the war the church was much involved in catering for the needs of servicemen stationed in the port of Newhaven.

During the ministry of the Rev. J.L. Cooper (1968-1973) it was found that some £6,000 was needed for urgent repairs. So negotiations took place between the Methodists in Chapel Street and St. Michael’s Anglican church. Ultimately the decision was reached to share the Anglican premises, Anglican services at 10 a.m. being followed by Methodist worship at 11.15. This arrangement gradually declined and the Methodists drifted away to other churches.. However, the present rector is also recognised as a Methodist minister and attends meetings in the Central Sussex United Area and occasionally leads worship in Methodist churches. His influence is greatly appreciated.