It is thought that two stone mason brothers built this primitive Methodist chapel and the adjoining 3 cottages in 1841, in what is now known as The Street.
Strategically placed at a confluence of dales, from the chapel windows can be seen Garsdale (formerly Hawes Junction) station, and the Dandrymire viaduct. With its railway connections and historic interest, it remains one of the most beautiful and best decorated of wayside chapels.
During the years of the construction of the Settle to Carlisle railway and the 22 cottages at Hawes Junction and Moorcock, the Midland Railway Company contractors provided a wooden structure, near to the railway bridge that marks the county boundary, for use as a school, reading room, and chapel. Once construction work was complete, and a permanent community was in residence, the Middleham Primitive Methodist Circuit raised funds for a permanent chapel.
Built by the stonemasons Groves & Woodiwiss who had built the new station and cottages, the style matched that of the cottages, with a front of Bradford stone. The chapel was painted in the colours of the Midland Railway: maroon and cream. As far as we know, this is the only place of worship to be built by railway contractors. Reuben Alton laid the foundation stone on May 1st 1876, to coincide with the opening of the Settle to Carlisle line to passenger trains.
The chapel was completed for the opening services on October 7th 1876 and was originally known as Mount Zion. For over a hundred years, the chapel thrived, regular weekly services continued up to 1999 when the congregation became too small.
The Friends of Hawes Junction Chapel were formed to raise funds to arrange special services, and to maintain the building for religious and community use. Their support and generosity has provided a recent extension with facilities. The chapel has also been redecorated inside and out in the original Midland Railway colours. Hawes Junction forms part of a trail of small chapels linked to the history of the railways and religion in the Western Dales.
The Carlisle to Settle railway line was built between 1870-1876, by Midland Railway Company. It was one of the most difficult railways to construct in the UK. Its 73 miles include 20 viaducts and 14 tunnels cut by hand through steep, often boggy, isolated and exposed countryside. Over 6,000 'navvies' lived and worked in appalling conditions during its construction. The Methodists in this part of Cumbria were significant providers of welfare and spiritual help to the railway workers.