In October 2023, members and guests of Bowburn Local History Society enjoyed a presentation about Bowburn Methodism by John Fuller.
John has kindly allowed us to make a copy of his talk available via this website.

Bowburn Methodist Church, by John Fuller

Below are listed a number of events, mostly drawn from local newspapers, in the history of Methodism in the Bowburn area. Some weddings and funerals are included, where reports of them mentioned people of significance in local churches.

29 April 1752

John Wesley probably travelled through Coxhoe and Bowburn on way from Stockton to Durham.

He preached in Stokesley and then Stockton on 28 April 1752 and in Durham the following day. So presumably he followed what was later called the A177. He preached in Shincliffe on 31 May 1780 and may have passed through again then.

(Source: Northern Echo 24 May 2002; 4 July 2007.)


Wesleyan Methodists chapel erected at Cassop Colliery

It was a stone building erected at a cost of £200. There was also a Primitive Methodists chapel.

(Source: Whellan, 1894.)


Primitive Methodist Church was built in Front Street, Quarrington Hill.

(Source: Engraved stone in wall facing Front Street.)


Wesleyan Chapel erected at Front Street, Quarrington Hill.

A "good building" (Whellan), erected at a cost of about £400, which would seat nearly 300.

(Source: Whellan.)


Wesleyan chapel erected at Tursdale, with a capacity of 170 people. Cost = £350.

The land on which it was built was leased from Bell Bros., who agreed on 3 December 1891 that the lease be signed.

Kelly’s gives the year it was erected as 1891. However Robin Walton gives 1892, as does www. cornforth. org. uk/cornforth. This seems more likely, in view of the date on which Bell Bros. agreed the lease.

(Sources: Kelly’s 1921; R. Walton (1991); www. cornforth. org. uk/cornforth; Bell Bros. Minutes – Min. 755.)


The first Primitive Methodist services were held in Bowburn, in the house of Mr. Thomas Park Robinson of 23, Durham Road.

(Source: Don Wilcock, Bowburn Interchange no. 10.)

17 October 1908

The Iron Primitive Methodist chapel (later known as the Durham Road Church – also the “top chapel” or “the tin chapel”) was opened at the top of Durham Road West, by Mrs. S. Lancaster, wife of the Circuit Steward.

It had been built by Ginger Lee & Co., Manchester, on land donated by Mr. Oxley, of Park Hill Farm. Services were previously held at 23, Durham Road, home of Thomas Park Robinson. In 1909, the chapel was loaned to Education Authority for use as an infant school. Lambs Place now occupies the site.

Don Wilcock gave Mr. Robinson’s name as Thomas PARKIN Robinson; the 1911 Census gives his middle name as Park. I previously had his name as Mr. Wilkinson, in error. Anthony Wilkinson’s house, at 24, Durham Road, was where the Anglicans met.

(Sources: Kelly’s 1921; F. Knox; Don Wilcock (cf. Bowburn Interchange no. 10.)

27 October 1909

Foundation stone laid for Wesleyan Chapel, at bottom of Durham Road West.

Half day’s holiday at Bowburn School. Dedication stones set in outside wall include “The Guilds of Durham Circuit”, “S. E. [?] Eales”, “E & E Smart” and two that are now indecipherable.

(Sources: F. Knox; School log book; Dedication stones.)

February 1910

The Wesleyan Chapel (later known as the Central Methodist Church) was opened by Lady Florence Bell, wife of Sir Hugh Bell, colliery owner.

Wesleyans had previously met in the house of Colliery Engineer, Mr. Frank Barkhouse [i. e. The Elms, Durham Road]. The chapel cost £600 to build and held c.100 people. The vestry (smaller than today) was used for classes and Sunday School.

Florence Bell was a noted author, best known for “At the Works: A Study of a Manufacturing Town”, published in 1907. Her step-daughter, Sir Hugh’s daughter by his first marriage, was the great Islamicist and traveller, Gertrude Bell – who cut the first sod of Bowburn Colliery in 1906.

(Sources: F. Knox; M. Richardson “Around Durham”; Don Wilcock, Bowburn Interchange no. 10.)

24 October 1915

A church parade at Coxhoe Wesleyan Church included scouts and guides, etc., including Bowburn Girl Guides under the leadership of Miss K. McIlwrain.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 8 October 1915, p.2.)

March 1922

Tursdale Colliery Wesleyan Church re-opened after renovation.

Mr. P. Harle presided at a celebratory concert. Rev. W. Nicholson, of Durham, was the preacher.

(Source: Durham County Advertiser 10 March 1922, p6.)

June 1923

Ordination Services at Coxhoe Primitive Methodist Church admitted three local preachers.

They were W. M. Cook (West Cornforth), J. W. Tweddle (Coxhoe) and George Scott (Bowburn).

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 22 June 1923 p6.)

30 August 1923

The funeral of John Lynn, miner, of Wylam Street, was conducted in Bowburn PM Church by Rev. J. W. Collingwood. About 200 people joined the funeral procession.

(Source: Dur. Adv.)

March 1924

A concert was held in the Institute, Bowburn, “in connection with the Primitive and Wesleyan Churches at Bowburn, Coxhoe”, by members of the Coxhoe Primitive Methodists Concert Party.

Mr. Wm. Smith presided. Mr. J. W. Tweddle (the Circuit secretary) was leader and Miss F. Harrod the accompanist.

(Source: Durham County Advertiser 7 March 1924, p4 + 6.)


Coxhoe Co-operative Society built new branch premises in Bowburn, next to the Wesleyan chapel. It opened late in 1924 or early in 1925.

At about the same time, the chapel’s vestry was enlarged.

(Source: Durham County Advertiser 12 September 1924, p6.)


Enlarged vestry of the Bowburn Wesleyan chapel opened. The extension was built by Mr. Lumley of Coxhoe, for £300.

(Source: Don Wilcock, Bowburn Interchange no. 10.)

11 December 1926

Peter Harle, Durham Road, Bowburn, died aged 63 years. He was born at Pit House Lane, Durham, and lived at East Howle as a child and later at 62, Ramsay Street, Tursdale, He was an overman at Tursdale Colliery for many years, before moving to Bowburn. He was a well-known lecturer and preacher, and an official of the Independent Methodist Church and a keen temperance advocate.

Though the local press report says that “he was esteemed by his workmen, who recognised his sincerity”, there is no mention of the colliery manager, also named Peter Harle. The manager was this Peter Harle’s cousin, son of his father’s brother William.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. & Dur. Chronicle 10 December 26, p.11.)

18 March 1927

A Cadet Section of the Sons of Temperance, under Bishop Auckland Grand Division, was opened at a ceremony performed by Bro. J. J. Walker, G. W. Patron, in the Primitive Methodist Church, Bowburn.

Bro. Millward, G. W. P. presided. Other officers of the Grand Division of the Coxhoe Refuge Sub-Division were present. The officers elected for the Cadet Section were David Bewick, Harry Bell, Mary Carlling, Ethel Lawson, Geo. Dowson, Annie Bell, Hilda Bones and Mrs. T. Robinson. Masters Lawson and Lynn, Bowburn, contributed to the musical programme.

(Source: Durham County Advertiser 24 March 1927, p4.)

27 March 1930

Rosannah Fawcett died, aged 8 years. There is a plaque in her memory in Bowburn Methodist Church. She was the daughter of Thomas Edward & Jane [née Wilkinson] Fawcett.

April 1930

Arthur Gillett organised a concert in the Primitive Methodist Church, Quarrington Hill, in aid of the new heating apparatus fund. A party from West Hartlepool provided the entertainment.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 24 April 1930, p.3.)

June 1930

William Stuart Bewick, captain of Bowburn Primitive Methodist Church Club, was married.

He was presented with a case of cutlery by George Scott, on behalf of the club’s members, during its annual meeting.

His family were all prominent members of Bowburn PM Church, including his father, William Bewick who was also Treasurer of Bowburn Miners’ Lodge but had died in 1929.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 19 June 1930, p.4.)

13 June 1930

Bowburn Primitive Methodist Church was well attended for an address on “Child psychology and its relation to Sunday School teaching”, given by Miss Bossoms, Connexional Sunday School Demonstrator, on her visit to Bowburn.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 19 June 1930, p.4.)

6 October 1930

A choir of 30 rendered the contata “Ransomed of the Lord” in the Institute Hall, Bowburn, as part of the Wesleyan Church’s harvest festival.

The choir consisted of the chapel’s choir “plus friends”, with soloist Miss Edith D Sigwick (soprano?), of Coxhoe; Miss E. Cockburn, contralto, of Bowburn; Mr. E. Wharton (Bowburn), tenor, and Mr. G. Gilderoy (Durham), bass. The orchestra comprised Messrs. J. W. Brighouse, T. Shotton (Coxhoe), Wilson, Jordan (Bowburn) + two others on viollins; Mr. Jacobs (Durham) + one on cornet and Mr. W. Cowings (Bowburn) on bass, with Miss Moore on piano and Mr. C. Morley leading the whole. Mr. W. G. Grace, the new agent (or “assistant agent”, according to the Advertiser) presided, having been introduced by Mr. J. G. Ramsay, the colliery under-manager.

(Source: D. Adv. 10 October 1930, p.4.)

8 November 1931

“Armistice Service in Cinema

“Minister Refused Permission to Preach in Church

“The Remembrance Day service at Coxhoe, Durham, on Sunday [8 November] afternoon will be held in a cinema instead of at the parish church, as arranged. The Bishop of Durham has declined permission to the Rev. Arthur Watson, the Primitive Methodist minister at Coxhoe, to give the address in the parish church unless he gives an assurance in writng that he personally accepts the conditions of reunion formulated at the Lambeth Conference. Mr. Watson is not prepared to do so, and, in consequence, has been informed by the Bishop that he cannot give the address in the parish church.

“The Vicar of Coxhoe will take part in the service at the cinema with Mr. Watson and Captain Statham, of the Salvation Army.”

(The Manchester Guardian, Saturday 7 November 1931, p.7)

August 1932

Bowburn Sisterhood was formed at the Primitive Methodist Church.

Mrs. Bainbridge? was president, Mrs. Brown treaasurer and Mrs? Scott, of 31, Wylam Street, secretary. They were to meet weekly, on Monday afternoons.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 2 September 1932, p.5. Some print is unreadable.)

1 October 1932

The main branches of British Methodism combined. In Bowburn, the Primitive Methodist Church became the Durham Road Methodist Church and the Wesleyan Church became the Central Methodist Church.

(In Coxhoe, the Primitive Methodist Church became the Central Methodist Church and the Wesleyan Church became St. John’s Methodist Church.)

The Methodist Church’s website is believed to be mistaken in saying that “The present building was built in 1910, following the amalgamation of the ‘Tin Chapel’– a Primitive Methodist church which was on the top of the hill in Bowburn – and the ‘Central’ Methodist church at the bottom of the hill; and initially served the spiritual needs of a mining community”. Certainly, the amalgamation was not until much later – presumably in 1932. Moreover, the Central (sic) Methodists celebrated their 52nd anniversary in 1962, i. e. their formation in 1910. This must refer to the opening of the Wesleyan Chapel in February 1910 – two years after the opening of the PM Chapel (the “tin chapel”), in October 1908.

(Sources: Members of Coxhoe St. Andrew’s Methodist Church (1999), “So those were the days?…”, p.44; http://circuit. webspace. fish. co. uk/bowburn. shtml [9 June 04]; Dur. Co. Adv. 23 February 1962, p.12.)

January 1934

Rev. A. Watson, of the Manse, Coxhoe, presided over the annual meeting of the Quarrington Hill High Street Methodist Church Trustees.

Ralph Hope was secretary and Co. Cllr. M. Duddin was treasurer. (Both were also Joint Property stewards.) Organist was J. Harry and Asst. Organist was Miss Olive Hope. Sidesmen were M. Duddin, T. Wheatley and T. Stephenson.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. & Dur. Chron. 19 January 1934, p.4.)

17 January 1934

Mrs. Robinson, of Bowburn, was re-appointed President of the Coxhoe Methodist Circuit Women’s Auxiliaries, at Quarrington Hlil Methodist Church.

Vice-presidents were Mrs. Gray of Cassop and Mrs. Craig of Trimdon Grange. Mrs. Dawson (Bowburn) was organist.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. & Dur. Chron. 19 January 1934, p.2.)

10 March 1934

Bowburn Durham Road Methodist Church members performed “The Homely House at Blackpool”. Mr. Morley Cheesey was instructor and leader and Mrs. Dawson pianist. Mr. T. Robinson presided.

Parts were taken by Mesdames M. Bainbridge, Robinson, Ogden, Peat, Thompson, Bell (sen.), J. Bell, Lawson, Morris, Egglestone, Lynn, Holmes, Blenkin, Brown, T. Scott, Hope, Fitzgerald, C. Bainbridge, Harrison, Richardson, Turnbull and Dawson; Misses M. Scott, J. Ogden and J. Greenwood; Messrs. J. Holmes, G. Scott, R. Egglestone, Y. Cook and R. Egglestone; Master Arthur Thompson and Ida Thompson.

(Source: Co. Dur. Adv. & Dur. Chronicle 16 March 34, p.4.)

16 March 1934

Coxhoe Methodist (formerly Primitive Methodist) Circuit decided to invite Rev. J. W. Soulsby, Horden, to be circuit minister, as Rev. Arthur Watson was going to Sunderland next year. (2nd choice was Rev. H. Howes, Sunderland.)

Circuit Stewards Mrs. I. Parker (Trimdon) and Mr. G. Scott (Bowburn) reported income of £139 October 4 for the last quarter – an increase of £16, thanks to the generosity of Bowburn Church. Mr. J. H. Holmes (Bowburn) was appointed delegate to the Synod, with D. Galloway (Cassop) as vice-delegate.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 23 March 1934, p.13.)

24 March 1934

Durham Road Methodist Church’s Entertainment Party repeated a humorous sketch, “The Homely House at Blackpool”, the proceeds of which (about £15) were in aid of Mr. W. Austin, a blacksmith at Bowburn Colliery, who had lost his eyesight through an accident.

Dr. J. Moffatt, of Coxhoe, presided, supported by W. S. Hall, general secretary of the Durham County Mechanics Association. (The Durham Road Methodist Church was the former PM “tin chapel”.)

(Sources: Co. Dur. Adv. & Dur. Chron. 30 March 34, p.7.)

January 1939

Durham Road Methodist Church Trustees appointed their officers for the ensuing year. They were G. Scott (secretary); H. Bell (treasurer); Mr. Holmes (property steward); H. Ogden & N. Dawson (sidesmen); Mrs. H. Bones (organist); Mr. Cheesey (assistant organist), and Mr. Cheesey (choir master).

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 20 January 1939, p.4.)

January 1939

Durham Road Methodist Church Sunday School appointed its officers for the ensuing year. They were G. Scott (superintendent); J. Stead (assistant superintendent); H. Bell (secretary – for the 16th successive year); J. Reveler (assistant secretary); Mr. Holmes (treasurer); Mr. Cheesey (organist and representative to quarterly meetings), and H. Bell (treasurer).

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 20 January 1939, p.4.)

18 January 1944

The funeral of Tommy Hodgson, of Lamb’s Close farm, was conducted at the Durham Road Methodist Church by Rev. R. Hughes, of Coxhoe, after he was killed in a road accident south of the Pit Laddie. The bearers were fellow farmers R. Storey, E. Oxley, J. Swainston, J. Dixon and A. Oliver, and R. Greathead, blacksmith. A long list of the mourners, including many farmers, is in Dur. Adv.

He was buried in Etherley churchyard.

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv. 12 January 1944, p.1 +19 January 1944, p.3.)

March 1948

The funeral of Sidney Blackburn, who died at Bowburn Colliery on 9 March 1948, was conducted, at the Central Methodist Church, by Rev. W. S. Weddell, followed by his burial in Bowburn Cemetery.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 19 March 1948 pp. 6 & 8.)

March / April 1952

Rev. H. Allan officiated, at Elvet Methodist Church, at the wedding of Mr. J. Bowron and Miss Helen Craggs, the only daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Craggs, 4, Lansdowne Crescent, Bowburn. The Bridesmaids were Misses Jean Million, M. Akenhead, R. Laverick and B. Johnson. The Small attendants were Yvonne Wilson and Brian Craggs. The Best Man was Mr. W. Hunter and the Groomsman was Mr. G. Huntley.

(Source: Durham County Advertiser, via Bowburn Interchange no. 19.)

11 April 1952

The Durham County Advertiser reported that Richard Ferguson, of 113, Park Avenue, Bowburn, had been admitted a Serving Brother of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. After working in the mines for 40 years, and once secretary of Bowburn Miners Lodge, Mr. Ferguson left that industry in 1951 and became a rent collector for Durham RDC. He had served on Cassop-cum-Quarrington Parish Council for a number of years and was currently vice-chairman of Bowburn County School board of managers and a life-long member of Bowburn Methodist Church. He had also served terms on Sherburn Hill Co-operative Management Board. He took first aid classes at Bowburn and Sherburn schools and his services were in great demand all over the county.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 19.)

7 May 1952

Mrs. Ogden presided at the weekly meeting of the Bowburn Methodist Sisterhood, when Mrs. Redfern read the lesson. Mrs. Galloway was the speaker, with Mrs. Prest soloist. Mrs. S.E. Law was organist.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 19.)

May 1952

Rev. H. Allan officiated at the wedding of Mr. J. Bowron and Miss Helen Craggs, the only daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Craggs, of 4, Lansdowne Crescent, Bowburn, at Elvet Methodist Church.

The Bridesmaids were Misses Jean Million, M. Akenhead, R. Laverick and B. Johnson. The Small attendants were Yvonne Wilson and Brian Craggs. The Best Man was Mr. W. Hunter and the Groomsman was Mr. G. Huntley.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 19.)

6 July 1952

Rev. R. Kent led a combined service with the Methodists (speaker Rev. S. G. Wood), in the Welfare ground, on this Sunday.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 11 July 1952, p.3.)


Tursdale Wesleyan Church closed.

The church’s organ was presented by its trustees to the Central Methodist Church, Bowburn in February 1954. A plaque in the chapel says: “Presented to the Central Methodist Church, Bowburn, but the Trustees of Tursdale Methodist Church, February 1954”.

(Source: Plaque on organ in chapel.)

29 October 1960

Foundation stone laid of Cassop Methodist Church

The site had previously been open space/field. The former chapel was on the other (east) side of Front Street. The tin school once stood just to the north of this site, next to the School House.

(Sources: Inscription on foundation stone; Geo. Marsden.)

24 July 1961

The newly formed joint Bowburn & District Youth Committee took possession of the old miners’ welfare, including fittings, furnishing and attachments, gifted to it by the Welfare Committee, who had now moved into the new centre over the road.

The premises were to be used by all three of the village youth clubs – those run by the Parish Church, the Methodist Church and the Boys’ Club. These would maintain their own identities but each would assist in the financial upkeep of the new centre, which was expected to cater for some 400 youths. A care-taker committee was chaired by Cllr. J. E. Wright, with Norman Strong (treasurer) and Ralph Jackson (secretary). The committee would consist of five representatives of each of the three organisations. It was planned to engage a part-time caretaker.

This arrangement did not survive, however, and the old Miners’ Institute / Welfare Hall was demolished in 1966.

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv. 28 July 1961, p.7; Dur. Co. Adv. 20 May 66.)

9 June 1963

The preacher this Sunday at the Durham Road Methodist Church was Rev. J. G. Cox…

… while that at the Central Methodist Church was Miss M. Smitth, of Nevilles Cross College.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 14 June 1963, p.7.)

October 1963

The funeral of Juhn Dinning, of 16, Lansdowne Crescent, Bowburn was conducted by Rev. J. G. Cox at Durham Road Methodist Church, prior to cremation.

Mr. Cox officiated at other services at this time, such as the funeral of William Roger Snook, of 29, Bede Terrace, and of Lily Jane Potter, of 18, Burn Street, later that month.

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv. 25 October 1963, p.7 + 1 November 1963, p.15.)

November 1963

The funeral of Miss Mary Wilkinson, of 1, Surtees Avenue, was conducted by Rev. J. G. Cox at Durham Crematorium. She had spent 60 years at Tursdale School, as pupil, pupil teacher and later teacher. She was also a well-known vocalist and church organist at Tursdale.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 8 November 1963, p.14.)

1 July 1964

Bowburn Methodist Church was formed from the two existing societies of Bowburn Central [former Wesleyan chapel near Ash Terrace] and Bowburn Durham Road [former PM “tin chapel”], using the former's premises for worship and the latter's for Sunday school work. The Society remained in the Durham Circuit. In 1969 the top chapel was sold, with Sunday school activities transferring the schoolroom and premises adjoining the bottom chapel.

(In the same year, the Central and St. John’s Methodist churches in Coxhoe combined to form St. Andrew’s Methodist Church, which sold the Central premises and it became a furniture store.)

(Sources: Durham Record Office; Members of Coxhoe St. Andrew’s Methodist Church (1999), “So those were the days?…”, p.28.)

May 1966

William Hedley, of 13, Bow Street, Bowburn, was honoured at a circuit gathering at Durham Elvet Methodist Church, after serving 40 years as a local preacher.

He began in Sunday School at Castletown, Sunderland and later became a teacher and superintendent, society steward and treasurer for the choir before moving to Bowburn in 1935. He continued preaching in the Durham circuit, was a youth club leader and lay secretary and treasurer of the Christian Citizenship Department of the Durham Circuit.

(Source: Dur. Co. Advertiser 6 May 1966, p.14.)

15 May 1966

Norman Strong, of 1, Newburn Avenue, Bowburn, was presented with a hymn book from Bowburn Methodist Church Sunday School teachers, following his retirement after long service as Sunday School Superintendent.

(Source: Dur. Co. Advertiser 20 May 1966, p.14.)


The Primitive Methodist church building (the “tin chapel”) was sold and the proceeds used to buy the Coxhoe Co-op stores, next to the bottom chapel, for £2,150.

Sunday school activities were transferred to the schoolroom and premises built on the site of the stores, adjoining the bottom chapel.

The top chapel may have stood empty till about 1972. The site was developed as Lamb’s Place in 1974.

(Sources: Durham Record Office (intro to Durham and Deerness Valley Methodist Circuit records) plus interpretation at LHS meeting 16 January 03; Mary Egglestone 15 August 1999; Don Wilcock, Bowburn Interchange no. 10.)

19 April 1969

Children from Bowburn Methodist Chuch won the Bob Best Trophy for gaining the highest no. of points in all classes, at the Durham Methodist Circuit Youth Eisteddfod.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 25 April 1969.)

About 1973

Lamb’s Place built by Fabar on site of former top [tin] chapel (the former Primitive Methodists’ chapel). It is presumed to have been named after Lambs Close farm, which had disappeared with the building of the motorway.

According to Bob Oxley, the land for the chapel had been donated by his grandfather, John Oxley, on condition that it would always be for a place of worship, and would revert to the Oxley family if that ceased. However it was sold (for £10–15k) when the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists amalgamated. Bill Oxley was persuaded not to pursue the matter.

(Sources: Mary Egglestone; Bob Oxley.)


Methodist church rooms, formerly occupied the premises of the Coxhoe Co-operative Society, were opened for youth work, concerts and coffee bar.

(Source: Don Wilcock, Bowburn Interchange no. 10.)

17 April 1979

Jim Reveler died. He is remembered by a plaque on the clock at Bowburn Methodist Church.

20 November 1991

Bowburn Methodist Church have raised £14,500 and received grants and donations amounting to £10,000, towards the £40,000 needed to renovate the church.

Work started on the hall in 1988 and on the church in 1990. Works were completed in 1992 and included a new entrance hall (in the area once a passageway between the chapel and Coxhoe Co-op); new roofing, and new windows and brickwork. The old church entrance was blocked up and the inside of the chapel was turned around, with the congregation facing north. The vestry was converted to a meeting room. John Hopper, church steward, was secretary of the refurbishment committee. Rev. Lawrence Sharp was the Minister.

(Source: Northern Echo (or Durham Advertiser?) 20 November 1991– Rita Irwin’s scrapbook.)

June 1996

A new drop-in was started at Bowburn Methodist Church, supported by Rev. Elizabeth Oliver and loyal friends. It was to meet each Thursday morning during school term time, for families with young children (and anyone else). Three women helpers, all retired, were there to help with the children and be someone to chat to if a listening ear was needed.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 21.)

August 1996

Audrey Woods died. She is remembered by a plaque in Bowburn Methodist Church.

November 1996

Two public meetings were held at Bowburn Methodist Church, to consider three proposals: (1) that provision for children and young people be improved, including uniformed organisations (Rainbows, Cubs, Beavers etc.) as well as a youth club for younger children and sporting clubs; (2) that the needs of local teenagers be investigated, leading (in consultation with them) to the development of some suitable provision, such as a drop-in coffee stop, featuring soft drinks, chessboards and maybe video games, and (3) that the possibility be considered of setting up an informal drop-in job club, with training opportunities for people who are unemployed.

The meetings followed a needs survey (the “Spectrum Project”) carried out by half a dozen members of the Methodist Church, with support from Christ the King Church and the local development officer from the Barnardos Spectrum organisation.

The chapel’s Thursday Coffee Mornings for Mums & Kids had already started, in June, and the Kids Club started the following year. Both were a direct result of this initiative. Contacts for these were Liz Atkinson and Denise Horner.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange nos. 1 & 21.)

25 December 1996

Rev. E. A. Oliver conducted the Christmas Day service at Bowburn Methodist Church.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 1.)

2 September 1997

The Kids’ Club started at Bowburn Methodist Church. It was to be run every Tuesday, 5.30-7pm, by Denise Horner and helpers.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 3.)

21 March 1998

A Special Service was held in Bowburn Methodist Church to celebrate the work of Kids Club.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 7.)

26 July 1998

A Book of Remembrance to Bowburn men who died in World War II was dedicated at Bowburn Community Centre, following a parade from the Oak Tree public house. The cabinet containing it was made by local ex-miner, John Johnson, using oak from Bowburn Methodist Church pews, which were being removed.


25, Broadmeadows, Bowburn, was acquired for use as a manse for Bowburn Methodist Church. The first minister to live there was Deacon Elizabeth Timmins. It was sold in 2009.

(Source: Durham Records Office m/DDV 1738.)

August 1999

A short history of Methodism in Bowburn was published in Bowburn Interchange no. 10, written by “Stavros Young” (pen-name of Don Wilcock).

August 1999

Liz Timmins joined Bowburn Methodist Church. Although she moved (from Carrville) into the Manse house in Broadmeadows, Bowburn, she was also to work with the people of Elvet and Shincliffe Methodist Churches.

“I trained as a nurse in Newcastle in the 60s”, she told Bowburn Interchange, “and most of my working life has been in nursing. In 1978 I moved to North Yorkshire and now class myself as Yorkshire by adoption. But it has been good to return to my roots recently. Baptised and confirmed in the Anglican church, it was not until 1984 that I became a committed Christian.”

LT studied at Cliff Bible College for a year and then stayed on as matron. She expected to be ordained as a deacon the following June. “As a deacon, who is not a local preacher, my main role is serving the church and community in pastoral care and encouraging people to develop and grow in their relationship with God through Jesus Christ.”

A deacon in the Methodist church can be male or female and also belongs to the Methodist Diaconal Order which is a religious order.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 11.)

May 2000

Syd Snowball died. He is remembered by a plaque in Bowburn Methodist Church.

25 December 2000

Rev. John Allison took the Christmas Day service at Bowburn Methodist Church. Other services that month were taken by Mr. Aspinal (a Carol Service) and Mrs. Offler.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 15.)

25 December 2001

Rev. John Allison took the Christmas Day service at Bowburn Methodist Church. He also took services on Sunday 16 December (an all-age service, with nativity tableau) and Sunday 23 December (a Carol Service).

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 18.)

6 July 2002

Bowburn Methodist Church raised £140.03 at the refreshment stall at the Bowburn Fun Day, which was donated to NCH, formerly called The National Children’s Home. Later, thanking the church for its donation, Gary Day, NCH’s Support Care Manager, wrote that the charity now supported 480 projects around the UK, helping over 98,000 children.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 21.)

About December 2002

The drop-in at Bowburn Methodist Church received a Community Health Award from Durham & Chester-le-Street NHS Primary Care Trust. The Trust made five such awards in 2002, “in recognition of outstanding work and contribution to the community”. June Snowball, one of the drop-in helpers since it started in 1996, sent an invitation via Bowburn Interchange to “Call in any Thursday morning for a drink, a biscuit and friendly smile.”

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 21.)

Summer 2003

Services at Bowburn Methodist Church in August and September were taken by Mrs. Greener, Rev. J. Allison (Sacrament), Mrs. J. Goodman, Mrs. M. Tribe, Mr. R. Leach, Rev. A. Lunn and Mr. A Clowes.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 23.)

About September 2003

Members of Bowburn Methodist Church welcomed their new Minister, Rev. Andrew Lunn, his wife Julie and children Nicole and Kirsty.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 24.)

November 2003

Bowburn Methodist Church celebrated its Anniversary Weekend at the beginning of November. On Saturday 1 November, entertainment was provided by the singing group “Agapé”, from Chester-le-Street Methodist Church, followed by a Faith Tea. Later that day there was an evening of entertainment, “Absolutely Topping”, with June & Frank Topping. Then, on Sunday 2 November, the Church welcomed back Rev. Elizabeth Oliver, for the Anniversary Weekend services, at 10.30am and 5.30pm.

Services later in November and in December were held by Rev. John Allison (United Service); Mr. Alistair Sharp (Wesley Study Centre); Mr. W. Offler; Rev. Andrew Lunn (Sacrament of Holy Communion); Miss D. Hale; Rev. John Allison (Family Service), and Rev. Andrew Lunn (Carol Service).

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 24.)

December 2003

Children from Bowburn Junior School attended a Christingle Service in Bowburn Methodist Church, after which the offering was sent to the Children’s Society.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 25.)

18 January 2004

A United Service of Bowburn Methodist Church and Christ the King church was held at Christ the King Church.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 25.)

January-February 2004

Services at Bowburn Methodist Church were taken by Rev. John Allison, Rev. A. Lunn, Rev. Kingsley Barrett and Mrs. E. Griffin.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 25.)

2 March 2004

The Durham and Deerness Valley Circuit Local Preachers met at Bowburn Methodist Church.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 26.)

2 March 2004

A course for Lent, called “Face to Face”, brought together a group of Bowburn residents from the congregations of Bowburn Methodist Church, the Church of Christ the King, Bowburn, and Emmanuel Church, Durham. The course was written by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, an ecumenical group that drew from all major Christian traditions. It was held every Tuesday over Lent.

Monthly meetings continued after that, with a course of study based around Saint Paulʼs letters to the Corinthians, for instance, in the autumn. For these they met in individualʼs houses, the first meeting being on 21 September, at the home of Richard and Liz Walsh.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange nos. 26 & 29.)

March-April 2004

Services at Bowburn Methodist Church were taken by Rev. Andrew Lunn, Rev. John Allison and Dr. M. Wilson.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 26.)

May-June 2004

Services at Bowburn Methodist Church were taken by Rev. Andrew Lunn, Mr. W. Young, Mr. J. Hackett, Mr. A. Aspinall, Mr. Eric Watchman and Rev. John Allison.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 27.)

June 2004

Bowburn Interchange no. 27 reported that Bowburn Methodist Church had a website:

(This no longer exists. It is now: )

It also gave the URL of the new Christ the King Church website,

(This too no longer exists. It is now: )

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 27.)

November-December 2004

Services at Bowburn Methodist Church were taken by Mr. J. Farish, Rev. J. Allison, Dr. M. Wilson, Dr. J. Bryan, Mr. W. Offler, Ms. E. Faulkner and Mr. M. Bagnall.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 30.)

September 2010

The Rev. Shaun Swithenbank became Elvet and Bowburn’s new Methodist minister.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 55.)

John Fuller did a presentation for members and guests of Bowburn Local History Society about Methodism in Bowburn in October 2023. He has kindly given a copy of his report for publication on his website.

Bowburn Methodist church Article.pdf