Decision to Build
The decision by Craster Methodists to build their own church may additionally have been influenced by the continuing success of the local revivalist campaign, the extent of this reflected in the entries of another diarist, fish curer Joseph Henderson Archbold.
"December 7. - Revival going on, several young people brought in. John Stanton, Robert Stuart, young John Smailes, Thomas Smailes, our Charles and Joseph, with some more.
" December 11. - Great revival still going on - 15 or 16 brought in to-night. " December 12. - The revivalists round the place every night and doing great work for the Lord.
" Christmas Day.-We had a grand soiree down in the Shade (`shade' or shed, implying herring shed). Several young men told of their conversion and experience."
Four weeks later, early in his diary for 1880, Joseph made the first of the entries which summarise the origin of Craster Methodist Church, built that year at a cost of £474 from whinstone quarried locally, and first opened for public worship at a thanksgiving service held on Christmas Day morning.
"January 22. - We have had a meeting about building a meeting house on the North Side. Ralph Archbold has agreed to give as much ground as will do to build it on.
" March 27. - We had meeting tonight about a chapel, and have got grant to build.
" June 19. – Subscription books out for erection of chapel.
" June 21. - Our Joseph brought in first load of lime for builders.
" June 27. - Masons commenced work.
" July 12. - Chapel foundation stone laid. My name, with names of 11 more chapel trustees, put in a bottle which placed in foundation stone."
Fisherman Ralph Archbold, son of Martin Archbold, and donor of the site on which the chapel stands, belonged to a family which has been identified with Craster for 500 years or more, one Edward Archbold figuring in the Embleton parish muster roll of 1538 of " men capable of bearing arms." Ralph's wife, a dressmaker, also made liquid yeast, and was known as "Margaret the Manty." The couple had no family, and Ralph died at Prudhoe in 1909.
Another Archbold, diarist Joseph's brother William Henderson - their father, Charles Archbold, died in 1855 - gave the ground for the road to the chapel, and acted as secretary for a fund-raising appeal. "The inhabitants of Craster having long felt I the want of a place of worship are now resolved, with the help of their friends, to have one erected, and kindly solicit your aid towards the same," read his note attached to the subscription books.
Nevertheless, not everybody shared the want, but undeterred by opposition, such as it was, the founders pressed on, appointing seven Archbolds to the first roll of 12 trustees, so that the names which repose in the foundation stone bottle are those of William Henderson Archbold, Matthew Stephenson, Joseph Henderson Archbold, Ralph Archbold, John Smailes, Robert Archbold, Charles Archbold, Ralph Simpson, Charles Archbold (William's son), Hugh Archbold, Thomas Smailes, and John Taylor Stanton.
Predominantly Methodist families Archbold, Stephenson, Smailes, Simpson, Stanton - not forgetting Dawson, Taylor, Grey, Scott, and their various branches. Old family names as synonymous of Craster as its famous kipper!