The John Carr Plate, and Mollie McIntyre’s Legacy

Members of the congregation may have seen the name ‘John Carr 1868-1936’ etched into one of our collection plates, but who was John Carr? Maurice Large has done some research…

“The registers don’t go back to John Carr’s birth of 1868, but we have a register of deaths which shows he lived at 4 Benwell Grange Terrace, died on 27 May 1936 and was cremated at Newcastle, with the service being conducted by Rev. Herbert Barnes. The significant information in the entry is “Old member of Choppington”, and I surmise that maybe those collection plates came from Choppington Chapel when it closed. It may not be a coincidence that Mollie McIntyre’s brother, sometime secretary of Choppington, was called Hugh Swinburne Carr.”

Choppington Chapel (1868-1970) was one of several former Unitarian congregations in the North East, and was known as the ‘Chapel of the Miner’s Lamp’. Choppington was a mining village, and their custom of hanging a lit miner’s lamp in the chapel

Choppington Chapel centenary 1968.

when services were taking place predates the adoption of the chalice as the Unitarian symbol. Newcastle upon Tyne Unitarians inherited the miner’s lamp when Choppington Chapel closed in 1975 – along, it would seem, with the collection plates! One of our current members, Maurice Large, attended a youth service there in the 1950s. He comments:

“Mollie McIntyre was Hugh Swinburne Carr’s sister; you may remember that he wrote an article in the Inquirer about the Choppington miners’ lamp. After Choppington closed, Mollie (correct name Mary Indiana McIntyre) was a regular at the Newcastle Unitarian Church. She died in 2008 with no family to leave her estate to, so she left it all to the church. She had always led a very frugal life, so we were astonished to receive a very sizeable sum! Without Mollie’s generosity, we would probably have had to close.”