Craster Methodist Chapel
60 Years Organist
In 1904, Miss Annie Scott, the future Mrs. Jack Grey, was appointed chapel organist to succeed Miss Rachel Archbold when her family moved to Blyth, an appointment which together with that of assistant organist she held for nearly 60 years, few records of the kind its equal. Niece and assistant organist Miss Jean Grey (Mrs. R. Longstaff) continued a family tradition upheld today by grandson Scott Grey, one of the chapel's regular organists, the other being Mrs. E. Morris.
Two of Annie's early assistant organists were the late William Reed Archbold and Miss Cissie Stephenson (late Mrs. W. Stanton), whose grandfather, the renowned Matthew Stephenson, acted as precentor in the days before the first chapel organ. He died, aged 72, in 1905.
Thanks to W. Stephenson and J. T. Archbold for the gift of a six inches wide strip of land for widening the road up to the chapel were expressed at the trustees' meeting of 1913, also thanks to Robert A. Smailes and John W. Smailes on their departure for Canada for " the noble, kind and generous way in which they have done their work in the church."
Then the outbreak of War, and at their first war-time meeting in January, 1915, the trustees accepted George Scott's offer to take the chapel Bible to Alnwick " for necessary repairs." Later, they insured the chapel against risk of enemy bombardment and air attack, but fortunately it was never a target. Problems though, in both World Wars, with the black-out. Eighty-five-year-old Miss Bella Trotter, of 2, West End, Craster, who with 67 years membership is the chapel's oldest member, was living at Little Mill in 1914, and recalls cycling down to Craster with her father to the war-time services, which, as in World War II, were frequently attended by soldiers stationed in the area.
The names of the 16 men from Craster and Dunstan - three belonging to the Smailes families - who fell in World War I are honoured on one of two memorial tablets on chapel facing walls, the other in memory of the five to die in World War II (one reported missing). Both tablets were unveiled by the late Earl Grey of Howick - the first on August 28, 1921 ; the second, on November 2, 1947. Circuit ministers officiating at the respective unveilings were the Rev. James Clark and the Rev. J. Victor Staton.
Miss Trotter is not alone in remembering the camp meetings held for many a year on an early August Sunday afternoon on a green beside the present Choughs Cafe, but the fact that her first camp meeting was over 70 years ago makes her record rather special.
" Folks in those days had nothing like the range of pleasures they have now, and in fine weather - usually we were lucky with the weather -the camp meetings were a big draw and attracted large turnouts," she recalls.
In 1926, John Grey was thanked by the trustees for his 37 years service as chapel fire-lighter.
Three young ladies listed as assistant organists in 1928 - Miss Eva Archbold, Miss Mary Taylor (Mrs. M. Richardson), and Miss Jean Grey (Mrs. Longstaff) are still doing their bit as chapel workers 52 years on.
Back to Craster Methodist Chapel '100 Years On'