Gateshead, Fell Dyke/Windy Nook WM, County Durham

On 6 June 1790, John Wesley preached at Byker Hill as he was returning to Newcastle from North Shields. In the afternoon, he had been invited to preach in Lamsley [parish] church but the vicar changed his mind and so Wesley preached at Gateshead Fell Meeting House and in the evening, at the Orphan House, Newcastle.

To be able to get to Gateshead Fell, the usual route would have been to travel to Newcastle and then take the Durham Turnpike southwards however, the stone bridge linking Newcastle and Gateshead had been washed away by flooding on 16 November 1771, being replaced with a temporary wooden structure that was chaotic in crossing. Visitors to Newcastle town were discouraged from entering the town walls in 1790 due to a typhus epidemic raging through the town and therefore Wesley would probably have avoided Newcastle and crossed the River Tyne at Hog’s Island. His route would then follow the line of the Great Grindstone Way – an early wagon-way linking Usworth to the river. Following this route to Gateshead Fell, would lead him through the villages of Felling Shore, High Felling, Windy Nook and Fell Dyke.

The hamlet of Fell Dyke bordered Windy Nook village and consisted of a few cottages, a farm, stream and was near the Heworth corn mill. A Wesleyan Methodist meeting house, the home of James Robson, was registered at Durham on 22 December 1804 and on 29 March 1833, was changed to “Windy Nook Wesleyan Chapel”.

There are no surviving records of the chapel itself though Circuit Meeting Minutes make occasional references to the weakness of the cause over a number of years until 1843, probably as a result of the New Connexion and  Primitive Methodist societies located not far away. It appears that the Society re-opened in 1847 but by 1898 the premises had been sold and were being converted into shops. The village itself, now absorbed into Windy Nook, was then known as “Old Chapel” and the whole site was cleared in 1935. Housing now occupies the land that the chapel stood on and the village site is part of the Queen Elizabeth hospital grounds.

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