Historian blasts plans to demolish 125-year-old Jarrow church

An historian has called for plans to demolish a 125-year-old church to be rejected as a row rages on over development plans for the building.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 6:00 am

The closed Park Methodist Church in Bede Burn Road, which was most recently to the Jarrow Auction Rooms company, was gutted by a fire in November 2017 and has stood derelict ever since.

The building’s owners, Premier Leisure Ltd, have applied to South Tyneside Council to demolish the burnt-out church and build a five-apartment complex.

But the plans have sparked uproar, with campaigners pointing out that while the 1895 building isn’t listed, it features on South Tyneside Council’s list of “Locally Significant Heritage Assets”.

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Historian Ged Lynn has spoken out against the proposed demolition of the former Methodist Church on Bede Burn Road. Picture by Stu Norton.
Historian Ged Lynn has spoken out against the proposed demolition of the former Methodist Church on Bede Burn Road. Picture by Stu Norton.

Local historian Ged Lynn has now added his voice to the opposition to the plans.

He said: “It is one of the few places in the town where a person can see an entire Victorian townscape as it was, the day it was constructed. The church and park behind it are the focus for that.

“This is the period that Jarrow, as a town, owes its entire existence to, and the proposed development pays no attention to that crucial aspect.

“The church is a perfect little example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. This is important because that style was deliberately chosen to demonstrate the confidence of Britain during the 19th Century.

Historian Ged Lynn has spoken out against the proposed demolition of the former Methodist Church on Bede Burn Road. Picture by Stu Norton.

“In response to the idea that a new-build on the site is ‘progress’: since the 1980s, the idea of demolishing all in way for the new, has been questioned by the wider, more satisfying idea of instead converting old buildings for modern uses.

“This upholds the link to the past that gives an area its character, identity, and pride.

“It’s happened all over the country, including here, in South Tyneside.

“Buildings like Jarrow Hall, The Alum Ale House and The Customs House have all endured periods of being in the same state as the Park Methodist Church is currently, until their day has come again. Imagine if we’d knocked them down.”

Premier Leisure has defended the plans, saying the building can’t stay as it is and that the development will benefit the area.

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