In June 1899 a site for the new church was purchased in Wilson Street. The land was within the Parish of Pallion (St. Luke) where Father S. Pater was Vicar, with his several assistant curates, for many years. A photograph survives, from these early years, of a horse drawn Church Army Mission wagon parked on this site and engaged in mission work led by the evangelist Captain Brazier, C.A. In May 1900 the Infants’ Sunday School began with 14 Children.
On 18th October, 1902 the foundation stone of the Big Room laid and the room opened in May 1903. The formal worship of the Church was being established in the district by now at the latest with, presumably, the Office of Evening Prayer in the Big Room on this occasion.
On 21st December 1907, the Parish of Bishopwearmouth, St. Mary Magdalene, Millfield was formed from part of the Parish of Pallion. Fr. T. H. Hurrell was inducted as first Vicar on 16th February, 1908.
In April 1910, fundraising began for the construction of the present Church. In the following years much fundraising took place with many ingenious methods used. Easter Communicants were numbering some 300 and the need for a bigger building was pressing.
On 16th December, 1924, Fr. William “Bill” Wright came to St Mary Magdalene’s. Fr Bill was a great defender of Anglo Catholicism. The congregation flourished within this very form of worship.
Fr. Bill suggested that the “Million Penny Fund” be started and organised at least 10 groups of volunteer collectors to bring in the pennies. He also instigated the “Mary Fund”. This involved massive publicity exercise to draw attention to the building of the new church here in Millfield and inviting all women in England of the name of Mary to send a donation to generate further income for the building fund.
The Bishop of Durham The Rt. Rev’d Henley Henson laid the foundation stone of the new church at a ceremony on 22nd July 1929. Also present were Sir John Priestman & Ernest Doxford, Esquire, son of Lady Doxford prominent people of Sunderland who were generous benefactors to St. Mary Magdalene’s building fund.) The Church was completed in its current form and Consecrated by Bishop Henley Henson on 22nd December 1930. The day of consecration was just 25 years to the day since The Parish of S. Mary Magdalene Millfield was carved out of the parish of S. Luke’s Pallion.
Incumbents of the Parish
1908 – 1910 : Thomas H. Hurrell
1910 – 1914 : T. J. McKitterick
1915 – 1924 : Walter Archibald Prideaux, C.F., M.A.
1924 – 1931 : William Wright, B.A.
1932 – 1939 : Charles Edwin Goshawk, A.K.C., B.D.
1939 – 1955 : Cecil Brammer Renshaw
1955 – 1987 : Charles Leslie Barron, A.K.C.
1988 – Date : Beresford Skelton, C.M.P, B.A. (Vicar from 1993)