A HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE’S MISSION
The first reference leading to the Official Opening of the Mission in Wellington Street is contained in the Minute Book of 1892 which refers to a meeting held on 6th March that year and reads as follows:’ ‘resolved that the new Mission Room be opened on Easter Sunday”. Mr. Richard Adcock was the Chairman at that important Meeting. This means that the birthday of the Mission is 17th April, 1892 and Good Friday in 1992 is on the same date. Of course it will be realised that much work must have been done leading up to that eventful decision.What we do know is, that as far back as 1877 Mr. George Bowman a Londoner who had arrived in South Shields at the age of sixteen, to work in the area and now twenty-four years of age, joined with three other working men, Richard Adcock.William Pinkney and Thomas Elliott, to establish the Mission in a room in Albion Street, for which they each paid sixpence per week. Previously, for an indeterminate time they had been Members of the Town Mission, which had become defunct.
The question has sometimes been asked, “why the title People’s Mission?”- it may be that the clue lies in the placing of the apostrophe between the letters ‘e’ and ‘s’, indicating the possessor – in other words the intention was that this new Mission should belong to the people.
Now that the new Mission Hall was opened the next task was the appointment of Trustees – even today becoming a Trustee is not to be taken lightly, and just over a year later on 12th April, 1893, ten were so appointed. These were Messrs. Adcock, Alderson, Bowman, Brogden, Coskie, Dunn, Elliott, Jefferson, Moore and Tennant. The observant reader will perhaps wonder what happened to Mr. William Pinkney mentioned earlier, who with.the two others commenced the fellowship in Albion Street in 1877. Unfortunately we do not know, but it would not be unreasonable to suppose he died between 1877-1892.
Mr. George Bowman previously mentioned as one of the Founders and a Trustee was appointed to the position of Mission Secretary on 21st March, 1894, and also Superintendent of the Sunday School, both appointments he held until he was called to Higher Service in 1932. His work for, and the love of children, gained him a special place in their hearts, so that when they were asked what Sunday School they attended, the answer would nearly always be “Bowman’s Mission”. It is not without some significance to note that one hundred years on his two great, great grandchildren Janet and Angus Griffin attend the Mission today as Members of the Girl’s and Boy’s Brigades.
Of course, it is to be noted that in those early days whole families became interested in what was happening in this modest building and not only joined the Mission, but became valiant workers. Their names are penned in the records leaving no doubt that their personal commitment and testimony to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, was instrumental in building up a Fellowship which a few years earlier could not have been envisaged.
The temptation to mention names is irresistible but, at the risk of possible omissions we record a few whose service and those of their families, can never be forgotten, nor should they be.
James Brimer, Cuthbert Peel, Edward Coulson, Charles Bedlington, David Ogle, William Alderson, F. Moore, W. Lascelles, T. Noble, D. Addison, M. Seales, J. Gibson, Lawrence Garrick, Robert Urwin, Henry Hogg, Alex Todd, J. Beck, J. Abernethy, John Jarret, Elijah Cook, William Shadforth, George Charles and many others.