St. Paul’s Parish once covered the part of Whitley and Monkseaton now known as the Parish of St. Mary. In the early 1900s there were very few houses in that part of Monkseaton, but as the district began to develop as a residential area, plans were made to establish a church.
As a result, on 23rd May 1911, a submission was made to the Local Authority Buildings Committee to erect a temporary Church Hall on a site in Claremont Gardens, which would be known as St. Mary’s.
The hall was quickly built and opened in September of the same year. It was served by a series of Curates-in-Charge and by February 1920, St. Mary’s had been established in its own right as a separate Parish.
Soon afterwards, the congregation were eager to go ahead with the construction of a permanent church and in 1921 plans were drawn up, and finalised in 1928. The architects were Wood and Oakley, and the building contractors were Messrs. John Jackson and Sons of Newcastle. Construction work commenced soon afterwards with the foundation stone being laid on 9th May 1931 by the Bishop of the Diocese.
As can be seen in the image, the architectural drawing originally incorporated a bell-tower towards the north-west corner; however, this was never built. The construction costs at this time were over £8,000.
The old Church Hall still remained and during the war years was requisitioned to accommodate troops, so many of the social and fundraising activities were temporarily suspended.
By 1957, the hall had reached the end of its useful life and was demolished to make way for the present hall, which was rebuilt on the same site adjoining the south side of the church and opened in 1959.
Over the years, St. Mary’s Church has been home to many organisations, including a Mothers Union group and Girl Guide association first established in the 1920s. The Church and hall are still used for many community based events and activities.
The Roll of clergy between 1904-1928 included C.L. Gwilliam, G.H.S. Bailey, C.R. Liversey and E. Fletcher.
The subsequent incumbents were:
- 1928-1936 Rev. W.E. Hicks
- 1936-1938 Rev. J.M. Nicholson
- 1938-1951 Rev. S. Thistlewood
- 1951-1960 Rev. A. Wilson
- 1961-1967 Rev. H.I. Jones
- 1968-1975 Rev. C. Turnbull
- 1975-1982 Rev. D. Smith
- 1983-1990 Rev. J.M. Lowen
- 1990-1999 Rev. J.L. Hallatt
- 2000-2004 Rev. Dr. C.H. Knights
- 2005-2013 Rev. Canon Dr. R.P. Greenwood
by Charlie Steel © 2013
His published books include ‘Monkseaton Village’ Vols 1 & 2, and ‘North Shields Public Houses, Inns & Taverns’ Parts 1 & 2, all of which are available from most local booksellers.