Frank Walters 1885 – 1907

Rev. F. Walters

From Maurice Large: “With the appointment of Rev. Frank Walters, not only do we move into the 20th Century, we also move into the time when we still have in our possession personal records. The earliest register of baptisms, marriages and deaths still in our possession dates from 1896, and the earliest entries therein are in the handwriting of Frank Walters.

Further, while I have relied heavily on the published lecture of Richard Welford from 1904 for these biographies, Frank Walters was present when the lecture was originally delivered, and Welford was clearly anxious to spare his blushes! However, Welford does tell us, “Whether in the pulpit with Dr Gilpin, or in the lecture room with William Turner, Mr Walters has maintained the very highest traditions of the pastorate”. He was known to be a brilliant and original thinker and highly regarded by the congregation. Before he came to Newcastle, Walters had been at various churches, including St Vincent Street in Glasgow, where George Harris had also been minister.

The Teesdale Mercury for Wednesday 12th August 1885 carries a report of the Annual Conference of the Northumberland and Durham Unitarian Association (the predecessor of the Northern Unitarian Association). Frank Walters was President, and there were representatives from Newcastle, Stockton, Darlington, Middlesbrough, South Shields and Sunderland churches. One of the matters discussed was where to direct missionary work during the coming winter. Suitable areas were considered to be Bishop Auckland, West Hartlepool, Hetton, Gateshead, Jarrow and the western portion of Newcastle! One member of the Newcastle congregation present at the conference was Councillor Joseph B Ellis who had been Mayor of Newcastle and would in due course become the first Lord Mayor of the city and receive a knighthood. Frank Walters retired from the ministry in Newcastle, but remained in the area, dying on 3rd November 1908 in Monkseaton.