St Matthew

The cost for the corrugated structure was £260.

My grandmother Margaret Fenwick Reed belonged to a very devout Church of England family, the Reeds of Hill Top, New York, Shiremoor.  All seven children were christened at St. John’s Percy Main in the 1880s and attended church every Sunday travelling through the fields to Percy Main beside the railway track that came from Backworth Collieries, as Hill Top was near Middle Engine – (pronounced Middle Injun by everybody).

My grandmother became Maggie Thompson and came to live in New York itself in 1900 where there was no Church of England church. However, St Matthew’s Church was built in 1905 on consecrated ground next to the Wheatsheaf Public House on the corner of Murton Lane and New York Road and it was opened by Bishop Lloyd on 15 January 1906 at 3 p.m.  The cost for the corrugated iron structure was £260 and there was seating for 130.

There were still several members of the Reed family living at home and Maggie, her mother and her sisters gave the new church their fullest support.  All my father’s brother and sisters attended three times on Sundays culminating in my father Baden’s case with confirmation in 1917 at St. Marks, Shiremoor.  He was 17 at the time and I think he gave it another year then decided he had enough of church and hardly ever attended again.  The rest of the female family members remained devout members and when most of them moved to Whitley Bay, Dora Thompson continued to play the organ at St Matthew’s for many years, till it closed in May 1947.

I remember in the winter of 1947 the Bishop of Newcastle was actually visiting the humble, ugly little church and Auntie Dora instructed my mother and myself to attend on pain of death, even though we were both Methodist and couldn’t follow the service very well.  It was a blinding snowstorm and I don’t know how the poor man got there, but he did, to be confronted by a very small congregation.

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