The village of Monkseaton has seen regular worship since 1886. Monkseaton Cottage, still in existence, was the location of the first recorded Church of England Service held in the village, led by a visiting Clergy from St. Paul’s Cullercoats. A Methodist Chapel in Front Street became our first permanent home in around 1900, becoming a daughter Church to St. Paul’s, Cullercoats. This Chapel, still in existence today, is the Methodist church for Monkseaton, and it is good to still maintain the close physical, as well as spiritual ties with our Methodist friends.
Sometime later, St. Peter’s transferred from Front Street to a tin hut (known as The Tin Chapel or Tin Tabernacle) which was in Chapel Lane where our Village Altar in Tin Tabernacle Clinic stands today. It continued to be a daughter Church of St. Paul’s, Cullercoats, and Father H.S.S. Jackson was the Priest in Charge at the time our New church in Woodleigh Road was being built. On 16th and 17th July 1930 there was a Summer Fair in the Council Park, Whitley Bay. This was in aid of St. Peter’s Mission, Monkseaton for funds to build a new church.
It was in the Tin Tabernacle in Chapel Lane that we moved in 1938 to our existing Building.
The church was designed by Mr. George Holmes and built by the Gofton family, the land having been purchased for £2,000 from a local leather merchant called John Robert Hogg. The church was built on a concrete raft and had the same kind of strength as some medieval churches – a fact proved by the lack of structural damage in World War II. Messrs. R.A. Gofton built the church at cost price, which was equivalent to a gift of at least £2,000. The workman made a contribution by working one Saturday afternoon without pay.
The Church of St. Peter’s Monkseaton, was consecrated by the Rt. Revd. Harold Ernest Bilbrough, Lord Bishop of Newcastle on the Vigil of St. Peter, Tuesday 28th June 1938 at 7:00 p.m.
St. Peter’s received its first Curate in 1940 with the arrival of the Revd. George H. Earle. A Newfoundler, who had come to represent his home diocese at World Conference in Amsterdam in 1939. Unfortunately for him, he got caught up in the War and was unable to return home. He was welcomed to the parish at a gathering in the ‘old’ church building on 31st July 1940.
Exactly one week later a stick of bombs, dropped by a solitary German plane, fell on St. Peter’s ‘old’ church, the new church vestries, the Smithy (Methodist), and Trinity Methodist, Whitley Road – four Church properties in one night! The old church ‘tin hut’ in Chapel Lane was completely destroyed – only the door remained. The night before, a dance had taken place in the tin hut, which had been used as a hall after the new church was built.
The War Years
The windows in the church were completely blown out and blackout material was used to cover them. After a few years it was decided to replace the windows with plain glass. Messrs. Gofton replaced the windows. The bill for this was paid on a Saturday and that night the windows were all blown out again. They remained blacked out Until the end of the war.
The vestry was completely destroyed and not rebuilt until after the war. The church and Lady Chapel were partly affected.
With the disappearance of the tin hut, there was no hall and many of the organisations of The Church met in St. Andrew’s Church Hall. The small corrugated part of the present Hall (known as the small hall) was built while Father Jackson was Vicar and later, when Revd. L. Watson became Vicar, the main hall was added.
Apparently, during the blackout days, Evensong was held in the afternoons.
In 2001, an ambitious project was started, which was named the Crosskeys Project. The aim of the project was to bring together the two communities who use the facilities at St. Peter’s, by providing common access to Church and hall and by enhancing the amenities, making the place of worship and the place of recreation pleasant places to commune. The mission was to be a focus for the local community, to provide access and welcome to all, to encourage fellowship and to serve as the chosen meeting place of first recourse.
Phase I and II, which were completed involved the re-ordering of the church, to free up space to allow the following phases to be realised. The Chancel was divided to create a new Sanctuary and Lady Chapel, the Choir Vestry and Sacristy were re-located and the organ console and choir stalls moved to the rear of the church. In the hall, an extension was built alongside the main hall, which houses a new kitchen along with a meeting room and some valuable storage. This phase also included the installation of a toilet for those who are physically impaired.
The remaining phases of the project never came into being as fund were never available. If they had gone ahead they would have included a large new common entrance porch to the church and the hall and the enhancement of the church grounds.