Memories of chapel choir being sought

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North Tyneside chapel-goers are being asked to help clear up mystery over the history of Cullercoats Fishermen’s Mission’s chapel choir.

Cullercoats Heritage and Family History Group is appealing for help to find out more about the past of the seaside singers, pictured.

The group meets at Cullercoats Community Association, in Belle Vue Street, on Mondays from 2.30pm until 8pm.

“What we are looking for are memories from people who recall the choir or took part in it and of what specific hymns were sung,” said group member George Frampton.

“Efforts are being made to identify and trace each choir member, some of whom are known to have emigrated or moved out of the area.

“We aim to write a complete history of the choir and perhaps recreate its spirit with some of its hymns and items of a more secular nature.”

The original choir belonged to the Primitive Methodist church.

In the 1880s, its conductor was fisherman John ‘Fiddler’ Lisle, who, with his six daughters and two sons, performed in chapel and with its Wave Treachery and other themed services of song around the north east, as well as in the open air during the summer months.

They were even recorded by the BBC on a number of occasions.

In 1901, the Primitive Methodists opened their new chapel in John Street, though it was destroyed during the Second World War in 1942.

The church grandees decided that a choir dressed in its characteristic fishermen’s costume and ganseys didn’t fit the image they were trying to portray. History doesn’t record why.

Lisle and members of his disaffected choir drifted away and, in 1905 opened their own fishermen’s mission in Front Street.

He died in 1912, but his son Albert continued the tradition and had the red-brick building at the junction of Eskdale Terrace and Promontory Terrace built.

Albert himself died in 1951, but the choir was carried on by his sons and son-in-law John Harrison until late last century.