A Glimpse of Twentieth century Life in Dunston
The fifth and last in a series of illustrated leaflets depicting life in the 20th century in the old Whickham Urban District, this leaflet covers Dunston and is available free from all Gateshead Metropolitan Borough libraries.
A Glimpse of Twentieth Century Life in and around the Riverside from Dunston Staiths to Derwenthaugh
The fourth in a series of illustrated leaflets depicting life in the 20th century in the old Whickham Urban District, this leaflet covers the Riverside from Dunston to Derwenthaugh and is available free from all Gateshead Metropolitan Borough libraries. A leaflet covering Dunston will be available in 2011.
Origins of Dunston Street Names
The following has been received as a comment regarding the origins of some Dunston street names.
'Woodside, Knightside, Monkridge, Redesdale, Elsdon, Horsley, Raylees, Rochester, Woodburn, Holmside and Otterburn are all areas within Northumberland National park. They are all historic or Roman areas or town lands contained within the National Park.
If you go up the A68 to Scotland through the National Park you have Woodburn, Rochester and Redesdale, over onto the A696 you have Raylees, Monkridge, Otterburn and Elsdon which has lands called Knightside, Woodside and Horsley.
All these names above are the names of all the Gardens surrounding Knightside Gardens.
Percy and Douglas Gardens;
Percy and Douglas are the two family sides of the battle of Otterburn in 1388.
Battle of Otterburn - Date - 19th August 1388 -
Setting - Otterburn, Northumbria, England
Earl of Douglas (the Black Douglas) of Douglas, Scotland versus Sir Henry Percy of Northumbria"
Memories of Dunston and World War II
Jack Dixon recalls life in Dunston during World War II.
Read by Pete Keen.
Available on: A Miscellany of Twentieth Century Memories from the Old Whickham Urban District.
Medical Services in Dunston
|Timaru House||Health Centre (built 1970)||Glenpark(built 1905|
|Drs. Foster||Drs. Fairbairn ret'd 1975||Drs. Dougal|
|Summerville||Brown ret'd 1976||Dougal (jnr)|
|Fairbairn||Dale ret'd 1961|
|Brown||1961 Aitchison ret'd 1980|
|1963 Cross re'td 1990|
|1974 Julia Gibson ret'd 1996|
Timaru House Surgery
Timaru House Surgery
This was a small terraced cottage, from where the Doctors lived and worked. It was diagonally opposite the Dun Cow and was demolished in the early 1970s(?). Timaru is a town in New Zealand's south island.
When Dr.Foster worked from Timaru House patients waited in the backyard and then moved into the back kitchen to sit on wooden benches.
In Dr. Summerville's time patients came in through the front door and waited in the hall until it was their turn, sometimes for as long as two hours. At a certain time the door would be locked and no more patients would be admitted for that surgery. A large grandfather clock ticked away as everybody sat in silence. The doctor would examine and treat patients, stitching, bandaging and mixing medicines. There was no nurse. After being seen patients would leave through the back door into the yard and out into the back lane.
In about the early 1940s a young Dr Fairbairn took over the Practice. He introduced an appointment system (new at that time). When he, his young wife and two sons later moved to Holmside Avenue he had a dispensary built in the back yard and employed a dispenser. The treatment room became a waiting room. His house in Holmside Avenue had a treatment room at the front, just off the hall, which Dr Brown used as an anti-natal clinic.
Dr. Brown who became Dr. Fairbairn's partner lived at the bottom of Carr's Bank (now Dunston Bank)
The Health Centre
A new Health Centre was built in 1970, on the field at the Four Lane Ends, and the Timaru Practice moved there. When Dr. Fairbairn retired in 1975 Dr. Brown joined with Dr. Cross and Dr Aitchison. The two practices now use the Medical Centre and Glenpark Surgery on Ravensworth Road. In 1976 Dr. Holmes joined the Practice, followed by Dr. Prudhoe in 1980.
At one time in the 1930's to 1950's there were four doctors in Dunston, all working in their own practices:-
Dr. Wilther or Wilthew
Dr. Dougall and
Dr. Wilther had his Practice in a terraced house on Ravensworth Road. When he retired in about the 1940's Dr. Kelly took over. After the War Dr J M Finnerty joined the Practice followed by a lady doctor, Brannigan and later by Dr. Pannu.
The surgery moved to the top of Ravensworth Road when Dr. Ranu joined.
1994 - 1999 Drs. Pannu, Ranu, Rajan
2000 Drs. Pannu, Ranu and Roberts.
This practice now has surgeries at Bensham and Lobley Hill.
Dr Dougall started up on his own at Glenpark, which he built in 1905. He married two years later. After the three children were born he bought the house at right angles to Glenpark in the road running up the left side and knocked through, so the family could live there, away from the hustle and bustle of the very busy practice. The original nursery was immediately above the surgery and they found it impossible to keep the children quiet during surgery hours.
Later he took on a partner, Dr Alec Hanson, who became a great family friend. Dr Dougall died in 1935. His wife then ran the practise with locums until his son qualified in about 1936 or 37, when he took over at Glenpark. Dr Alec Hanson was still there too at the outbreak of war and held the fort until the end of the war when Dr Dougall's son was released from the services and returned to Glenpark. He then sold the practice (to his mother's great horror - she felt quite betrayed) and he moved to Bath.
In 1914 Dr Dougall presented a cup to the Scouts to be competed for annually. It was for Ambulance work. In 1978 the competition was changed to Emergencies. The cup was still being competed for in 1988.
Dr. Hanson a very flamboyant man always wore a flower in his buttonhole. He practised from his house in The Crescent. He was succeeded by Dr Thompson, followed by Dr Simpson. The Practice moved then to Chirton House, 1 Spoor Street.
At one time all the doctors' wives helped in the Practice. Before the National Health Service was introduced in 1948 a way of paying for treatment at that time was a payment of a weekly amount of a few pence. This was collected each week and was called "The Panel", a type of insurance.
There were two nurses in Dunston, Nurse Simpson and Nurse Porteous who was also a midwife. She attended mothers before, during and after birth. Few people went to hospital to have their babies.
She was very brisk and efficient, dressed in her starched white apron. Both nurses ran a baby clinic, which was opposite the Dun Cow, in a large building below the library. They weighed babies, gave advice to mothers and handed out powered milk and jars of cod liver oil and malt. In the clinic there was also a room where children could have sun-ray treatment.
The nurses helped the doctors' visits to schools where children were physically examined, had a simple eye test and heads checked for lice. Nurse Porteous also took guides through their First aid and Home Craft badges. Before nurses were directly employed by GPs Sisters Pearson and Brown were the district midwives. Later Sisters Annabelle (Moon) and Berelay were district nurses aligned to Glenpark.
No record of when a library service to Dunston or Whickham started but they were among the first communities to have libraries.
Dunston Library was situated in Brompton House and was a small divisional library from where Whickham, Swalwell, Sunniside and Marley Hill were served. The staff were all based in Dunston and would work in various locations. Most of the smaller communities, including Whickham, had collections of books delivered by vans and left in village halls and staffed for a few hours every week.
Whickham Library had a number of different premises, including a room in The Hermitage and a shop in Front Street, but in February 1968 they moved into a purpose built building in Chase Park. As the community of Whickham grew with the building of new housing estates the management of the sub libraries was transferred from Dunston to Whickham. This became a divisional library.
The population continued to increase and when the shopping centre in St. Mary's Green was planned, a new library was included. This opened on 26th September 1975 and is still well used but is once again proving too small.
Whickham Library is now open 49 hours per week and issues 176,000 items per year. It has approx. 9,000 members and a stock of 25,000 books.
The population of Dunston declined and the old building in Brompton House became totally unsuitable and past repair - at one time the chimney fell through the roof - so a decision was made to include the library in a new Activities Centre which opened on 17th July 1986.
The library was in the old Claxton's Hall behind Holy Trinity church. It was closed in the 1950s and Blaydon or Whickham were then the nearest County Durham libraries.
The libraries were part of the Durham County Library Service but now are run by Gateshead Council.
The Imperial, Dunston (The Bottom Hall)
The cinema was located on Ravensworth Road and was known locally as the 'Bottom Hall'. It was opened in 1910 and eventually closed in 1961 when it became a tyre depot before demolition. It opened twice-nightly six nights a week, changing films each Monday and Thursday, and had a film and a "short" as well as the Pathe News. Films were then classified into A and B films.
There was also a Saturday matinee for children, which was very popular. Entry was one penny, or twopence for the back two rows which had plush seats. Some parents gave their children two pence with the intention of keeping them away from the riff-raff in the penny seats. Little did they know that one penny was spent on sweets and their offspring met their friends in the penny seats!
When there was a film on involving Cavalry and Indians or Cowboys chasing Baddies the row of the stamping feet and the yelling was deafening! Mr Morrison did a wonderful job of controlling the children (and the fleas), by continuously going around and squirting 'Jeyes Fluid' everywhere.
At Christmas-time before the Second World War every child was given an orange. He also provided the tea at the Dunston Church School Christmas party.
Later, it was owned by a Mr Scott who had a small circuit of cinemas in the area.
Regretfully it was demolished for road developments.
The Albert, Dunston (The Top Hall)
The Albert Picture Palace
Opened in 1912 on Ravensworth Road and locally known as "The Top Hall". It had a ground floor and a balcony and was owned by a local syndicate. In 1959 it boasted that it had "The most modern cinemascope equipment in the north". When it first opened it showed silent films and had various types of acts and performers. It closed in 1960 when it was briefly a club and then a bingo hall before eventual demolition to make way for the Derwent Court re-development scheme.
Dunston - Farming
Thinking about Dunston certainly doesn't conjure up images of lush pastures, yet on the 1858 Ordnance Survey Map no fewer than nine farms are shown on the area now covered by Dunston.
Seven farms have all disappeared without trace.
Mount Hooley Farm lives on in name only as a housing estate.
Low Glebe Farm on Carr's Bank was on church ground.
Cowheel Farm was built at the Duncow end of Ravensworth Road and took its name from the small hamlet which grew up around the crossroads.
Jacks Leazes, Market Lane and Baldwin Flat are all gone the latter lives on as Rochester and Elsdon Gardens.
Whitegate Farm was built in the eighteenth century and was one of the area's first listed buildings. It formed part of the Bute Hall Estate but had gone downhill in the seventies. In 1983 a local firm, Holly Construction, restored the farmhouse as the centre of a small local housing development.
Whickham Thorns Farm on Market Lane was restored as an Inner City Farm Project and is the focal point for school visits and local history studies. It was once known as Geordie Cairns farm.
Picture Gallery - Shops' Advertisements
The first Gateshead trams were steam driven but by the time the Dunston line was built the system was electrified. The route was single line along Pine Street then double line past the Gas Works. The line turned single again past the Team Gut, then a short double stretch, and another single stretch led to the double line terminus.
Tram terminus on Askew Road looking towards Dunston
The Dunston route was withdrawn on 4th August 1951 and crowds of people turned out to see what was the the last tramcar to run on Tyneside. Commemorative tickets were issued to the passengers.
Industry in Dunston in the second part of the Century.
All Vent Systems moved onto the site which had previously been the site of "The Old Collingwood Hotel".
The Sewage and Treatment Works are on the site of Dunston Power Station.
Woodhead RSR, Lancaster Road.
Saltwell Signs, Staithes Road Dunston.
Dewsons, Dunston Saw Mills, Flour Mills Road, Dunston.
Dunston Federation Brewery, Wellington Road.
More information available on the Tyneside History Website at:- http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/north_east_england_history_page/Tyneside.htm
Emmerson Walkers made windlasses and capstans for ships.
Clayton and Davie, Limited
When a ship grows old and becomes uneconomical and a liability to the owners, the shipbrokers of the world offer her for sale to the ship-breakers. Many ships have ended their days at the jetty of Clayton and Davie Ltd., Dunston.
This famous firm, (a founder member of the British Ship-breakers Association), was formed in 1926 by Mr. Herbert Clayton after returning from World War One. A little later Mr. William Alexander Davie joined him by buying into the company.
A German ship waiting
to be broken up.
Torpedo boat "Walrus"
in Scarborough harbour.
Since 1926 many vessels, famous and infamous, including destroyers, German U-boats, frigates, passenger ships, tankers, submarines, dredgers, fishing boats, tug-boats and cross-channel steamers have fallen into the hands of the Clayton and Davie acetylene cutters.
Acetylene torch cutters divided huge sections of steel and other metals. They were then lifted onto the waiting trucks by a crane carrying a lightweight electric lifting magnet, 45 inches in diameter, capable of handling 1,250lbs.of metal in a single lift. Some of this metal was exported to European countries. Some steam railway locomotives were also cut up for scrap in the 1960s.
In the fifties when the yard was fully operational, between 75 and 100 men were employed. Many had worked for the firm since boyhood. When an employee completed 25 years service he was presented with a gold watch from the management. Many watches were presented.
The firm was managed in the sixties by Mr.William Alexander Davie and Mr. Herbert William Clayton
Here are some interesting stories connected with Clayton and Davies.
Killed in action
The ship, which had been in action, had had many casualties, and the emergency repairs necessary to keep the ship afloat concealed the presence of some dead sailors, who sailed in this floating hearse until found by the men at Dunston.
There had to be an inquest, then the bodies of the unidentified were buried in Garden House Cemetery.
Tom Goulbourn tells us that he was on board when the bodies were found and that his father Thomas Thompson Goulbourn was Foreman of the Jury at the Inquest.
The veteran paddle wheel tug 'Eppleton Hall' built in 1914 was bought to scrap by Clayton and Davie in 1967.
The news of the tug's fate reached the ears of Mr. Karl Kortum, director of the San Francisco Maritime Museum in the U.S.A. He told Scott Newall who did a "United States Marine Act" by crossing the Atlantic in haste to reprieve the 'old lady' by buying her from the Dunston firm.
A book, The Eppleton Hall, written by Scott Newall, tells the story of the discovery, restoration and journey from the Tyne to San Francisco of the ship. (Howell-North Books, Berkeley, CA, 1971) and is available from local libraries or second hand bookshops - try the Internet.
The "Eppleton Hall" paddle
steamer now in San
Francisco Maritime Mueum
Mr Scott Newall
Plaque for the "Eppleton
Hall" at San Francisco's
Mr. Scott Newall spent £41,600 to rebuild the tug. Then after many trials and tribulations, set sail on her last voyage on the 16th July 1969 - not to a breakers yard - but to honourable retirement as a show-piece in the San Francisco Maritime Museum. See San Francisco Maritime Museum
The "Eppleton Hall"
at San Francisco Maritime
Museum - picture supplied by
The "Eppleton Hall"
pictured at San Francisco's
The "Eppleton Hall"
pictured at San Francisco's
The Cruel Sea
When the film "The Cruel Sea" was being made, the Elstree Studio camera team visited the breakers' yard of Clayton and Davie at Dunston to shoot scenes aboard an ex-Royal Navy corvette awaiting demolition.
Later most of the superstructure of the vessel was sent off to the studio to be re-assembled.
Some of the name-plates of ships of the past hung on the walls of the yard fitting shop which could be likened to a Naval Museum. Names which quicken the heart-beat of a naval man-'Plucky', 'Paladin', 'Linnet', 'Echo' all ships of war. Ships of commerce include 'Thornaby', Hallmoor', 'Lievvroukerk','City of Christiana', etc.
We would be pleased to have more stories about this and of other Dunston Riverside Industries.
Taylor Pallister Limited
Taylor Pallister commenced ship repairing before 1900 from a small workshop near the Dunston Staiths, servicing the small ships that came up the River Tyne to the Staiths and Derwenthaugh. During and after the 1914-1918 war, the firm provided lifting gear and items for steering and mooring of much larger vessels. During the Second World War many demands were made upon the firm. Taylor Pallister Warping Guides were used to moor tank landing craft.
In 1958 they took over the site of the original Dunston Colliery.
Dunston was world famous among sailors because of the 'Rollos' or 'fair leads'* on ships, which were made at Taylor Pallisters. More recently, some of the world's largest ships, including the Q.E.2, were fitted with Taylor Pallister Fair Leads.
* A fairlead is a hole, set of holes or a more elaborate device for guiding a rope etc. to reduce friction.
SEE THE MEMORIES PAGE FOR A WONDERFUL ACCOUNT OF WORKING FOR TAYLOR PALLISTER BY NOEL GARVIN!
Taylor Pallister article.
Dunston Staiths were opened by the North Eastern Railway Company in 1893 to meet the growing output of export coal and to save the rail journey to the docks at the mouth of the river. A second set of staiths was built adjoining the first in 1903 and a tidal basin dug out, providing six berths in all, at which ships could be loaded at all states of the tide. Each berth was provided with two gravity spouts and there were three conveyor belts. The staiths also occasionally loaded fluorospar and pitch.
The two staiths were separate in construction and pitch pine was the wood used white-leaded as a preservative, beams of 12 by 12 being used with mortise and tenon joints. Railway fitters did any repairs, the staiths being railway owned. The spouts were numbered from 1 to 12 starting at the west end of the River Staith (on the Tyne) with spout numbers 1 to 6, then moving from east to west along the Basin Staith, numbers 7 to 12. The electrically-driven conveyor belts were used when the tide made loading by the spouts impractical. The railway wagons were shunted into position by a locomotive known as the 'pup', and the staiths were built with a gradient of 1 in 96, rising from west to east so that wagons could be allowed to run downhill into position over the spout hoppers and the wheels chocked. Men known as teemers were responsible for this and for opening the wagon bottoms to allow the teeming of the coal or coke down the chutes or spouts into the ships hold. The counter-balanced spouts could be easily raised or lowered by the teemers according both to the state of the tide and the height of the ship as it sank lower in the water as it filled up, and they also moved from side to side. When the coal jammed or was frozen in the wagons the trimmers would have to free it. Because some customers preferred their coal and coke in larger lumps and unbroken, a device called an anti-coal breaker could be used to prevent breakage. This was electrically operated, the coal coming down the spout and onto a continuous belt at an angle, and thence into the ships hold.
When the ship's holds were filled gangs of men called trimmers moved onto the pile of coal and levelled it to ensure the ships' stability. Triangular shovels were used, four or five men to a hold. This was a time consuming job and a dirty and uncomfortable one, done in all weathers, in daylight or darkness (though the staiths were lit), and the trimmers were accordingly better paid than the teemers.
Ships were also supplied with bunkers (coal for the boilers) and the hatch or bunker hole for this being small, a temporary wooden 'funnel' would be built by the teemers to guide the coal into the bunker hole as it was teemed down the spout. Fresh water was also supplied to ships, this was a private business owned by a man who lived in the white house in Dunston Road near the present filling station.
The statihs were 526 metres long (1725 feet) and 20 metres (66 feet) high above high water. They handled on average 140,000 tons of coal a week in the 1920s but only 3000 a week in the 1970s. Dunston staiths closed on 4 March 1980 and the Basin staiths were dismantled in 1985, leaving the River statihs which survive today.
In 1923 West Dunston Staiths were opened by the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) to meet the greatly increased demand for facilities at Dunston and by the following year the two Dunston Staiths handled a third of all coal and coke shipments from the Tyne. West Dunston staiths had three loading berths but with the decline of coal shipments they closed in 1934. An embankment carried the railway feeding the staiths over a bridge across the main railway line between Gateshead and Blaydon and there were numerous sidings. This land was reclaimed in the 1990s and is now a car and coach park together with a new road running parallel to the railway.
Embankment on line to
West Dunston staiths
Sidings near staiths embankment
with Dunston Power Station.
Trackbed of West Dunston
Staiths line, looking east
with main line at right.
East Dunston Staiths handled coal from Marley Hill, Watergate, Ouston and Kibblesworth. It was solely concerned with the shipment of coal and coke from the Norwood Coke Ovens. Some of the coal was exported to countries such as Sweden and Germany and many foreign shops loaded coal there. West Dunston Staiths received coal from the collieries in the Derwent Valley, competing with Derwenthaugh staiths. Also it handled oil and tar from Consett Coke Works and shipped coal to the Ford Motor Company at Dagenham. About one million tons of coal and coke were shipped per annum.
Staiths had existed from the 1630s and possibly earlier but these were built on a much smaller scale than those shown above. Fordyce's map of 1846 shows 43 Staiths on the Tyne and a list made in 1792 shows nearly forty thousand individuals employed and dependent on the coal trade of the river. The keelboats were used to carry coals from the staiths to the colliers (larger vessels) which then took the coal downriver and on to its destination.
The Staiths built in the early 1800s extended further into the river and coal could be dropped directly into the holds of the colliers thus cutting out the need for the keel man or middleman.
Don't think that strikes and new technology are peculiar to the present day. Although it is difficult to think of Staiths as new technology, they posed a threat to the keel men which led to the great strike of 1822.
During the 1822 strike involving riot and disorder, soldiers were billeted at public houses and Bute Hall in Dunston. A bill dated November 23rd, 1822, states that:
"Peaceable inhabitants should keep within their houses during the times the keels are passing from the Staiths, as the marines have orders to fire on the first man to throw a stone at them."
So much for the miners' strike of 1984. Dunston had seen it all before.
The Staiths, no longer in use, is now a Grade II listed building and reputedly the largest wooden structure in Europe. At the National Garden Festival held in Gateshead in 1990 it was open to the public and it was possible to walk along the top of the staiths and view the chutes and other machinery used in loading the ships.
Various views of Dunston Staiths from the 1960's.
Elsie Cork's Recollections of the Dunston CWS Soap Works.
Elsie Cork, nee Muncaster, began work at the Soap Works in Dunston when she was eighteen years old. Her Mother, who was friendly with Mrs. Baxter, the wife of the Manager, managed to get her the job in the hope that Elsie would not have to go into the forces. However, in 1942 she joined the ATS.
At the Soap Works Elsie did a variety of jobs, from waiting on the tables in the canteen, working in the "dry soap" department, to canvassing and finally, because the men had been called up, to checking the supplies going onto the lorries.
She remembers being paid 18 shillings a week for the 7.30am to 5.30pm job. There was a ten minute break in the morning and an hour for lunch. In bad snowy weather she would walk from Whickham to Dunston, leaving home at 6.30am.
At the Soap Works there were three departments:- the Dry Soap (washing powder such as Solvo and Paddy), the Frame Department (household soap) and the scented soap and perfumery department.
The canvassers went around the area with free samples of soap. They had a bag over their shoulders and wore a white coat and a white beret. A van would follow them with supplies. Elsie remembers often being invited into homes for a cup of tea and even for bacon and eggs!
The Co-operative Wholesale Society's Soap Works were sited next to the Flour Mill. The Soap Works was a further early example of reinforced concrete construction, opening on 15th February 1909. Oils used in the manufacture of soap were brought up the River Tyne from the West Indies and the West Coast of Africa. The Soap Works provided employment for many local people and catered for staff leisure pursuits including an Amateur Dramatic Society. Both the Flour Mills and the Soap Works are now closed and demolished.
CWS Flour Mills
This was the most prominent building in Dunston and was built between 1887 and 1891. It was one of the first reinforced concrete buildings and electric lighting was used throughout the mills. The grain silos had a capacity of 2,500 tons and the mills produced 5,600 sacks of flour per week. Grain was imported mainly from Canada but also from Argentina, Australia and USA. All grain coming in, with the exception of local wheat, was brought up the River Tyne and unloaded into large silos at their own private wharf. Finished products were dispatched by rail.The premises were extended in 1908 with the construction of the Soap Works next to the mill.
Dunston Saw Mills. (Palmer Hall Company, Ltd.)
The Dunston Saw Mills were among the largest in the country. The firm supplied timber to builders, joiners and cabinet makers throughout the North of England. There were two circular saws in the Mills which were used to saw pit props for the many local collieries.
Dunston Power Station
Dunston Power Station
The power station was constructed in the early 1900s when the railway had to be diverted south of its original route. It was rebuilt from 1933 to 1950 for the North Eastern Supply Company, to a design by Merz and McLellan using glass, rather than brick, walls to enclose the machinery. It took water from the River Tyne for the coolers and used coal from various pits in the North Durham Coalfields such as Marley Hill. The electricity was supplied to the grid system for Cumberland to Yorkshire and north to Galashields.
Dunston Power Station was the first one in the world to use super re-heated steam.
Hedworth Boat Yard
Built all kinds of racing boats.
Sadler's Boat Building Yard
Sadler's Boat Building Yard was famous for the building of Keelboats. Later on the building of Wherries and Yachts was carried out at the same yard.
The Sadler family were very competitive in the sport of rowing. So much so that one of them married Harry Clasper's (a champion rower) sister.
They may have been members of Dunston Social Club.
Part of the family moved at the turn of the 20th century to Paradise in South Benwell. There they took over the one man ferry boat crossing that ran across the Tyne from Paradise Yard to the Delta (Raines Steelworks)near to the mouth of the river Derwent not far from The Skiff Pub. The ferry mainly carried workers back and forth across the river.On one occasion Mr Sadler was awarded the Royal Humane Societie's medal for saving a man from drowning.
That part of the family also ran The Boathouse Pub on Scotswood Road in Newcastle.
Dunston Engine Works
Dunston Engine Works made all types of pumping and winding engines and iron and steel boilers, etc. This company also had a world wide reputation for stone breaking and ore crushing machinery.
Atlas Concrete and Stone Works Football Team
Atlas football team late 1940s.
Atlas football team late 1940s.
The goalkeeper (third from left, back row),
is Harry Patterson.
The left hand picture was taken in Dunston Park before the last war. Far left, middle row, George Nealey. far right, middle row, brother Harold Nealey and 2nd from far right, middle row is another brother Wilfred Nealey. Middle row, second from the left in the photograph is Archie Thompson (Senior). The other two pictures were kindly sent by Ken Patterson. Click 'Comments' for memories of the firm.
Help with more information about the firm and about the three pictures would be appreciated.
Atlas Rivet Works
The Atlas Rivet Works which belonged to Mc Farlane and Whitfield, produced one hundred tons of rivets per week and was once the largest rivet factory in England.
The firm supplied all the rivets for the Mauretania.
Industries in Dunston in 1903/4
The Dunston Ferry Co Ltd Direct ferry to Water Street, Newcastle and to Elswick.
The Tyne General Ferry Co. Boat Landing
Marsh Thamas & co. Ltd. manufactures of iron and steel stern frames, keel bars, rudders, marine and other forgings, general smiths.
Dunston Engine Works Co Engineers and makers of stone ore and cement crushing machines, land steering gear and all kinds of colliery work and ship repairers, also Capell Patent fans
River Plate Fresh Meat Co. Ltd ,10 Rothesay Terrace.
Robert Thubron & Co oting works and sawmill
Younger & Gallon Iron founders (High Dunston)
The main area of industry has always been concentrated near the River Tyne at Dunston and Swalwell.
Dunston is believed to have its origins in fishing. Historians believe that the settlements original houses were built along the Teams and the Tyne because of the rich pickings on offer. The advent of heavy industry along the riverside put paid to that. Now it is all gone, salmon are back in the Tyne!
The River Tyne provided a good method of transport as it was navigable for ships of about 8,000 tons beyond Derwenthaugh and in the 1950s was dredged to about 30 feet.The factories were also connected to a branch railway.
Long before the end of the century all had changed. The old industries were replaced by light industry, retail and service trade sited at the industrial estates in Dunston and Swalwell. At the Metro Centre, various supermarkets, hotels and food outlets became the main employers. Sadly much of the work is part-time and or shift work.
A Boy on the Railway
At the age of 15 I worked for British Railways as a Messenger Boy reporting to the main office, next to the Staiths at Dunston. I picked up all the mail and used to deliver to all signal boxes from Dunston to Blaydon, bringing mail back to Dunston, then picking up the mail for delivery up the line to Marley Hill. I used to hitch a lift on the coal trucks cable set up to Lobley Hill top.
I sometimes sat on the front with the Onsetter, the man responsible for detaching the cable. We jumped off as the set ran on to bump into the other empties. The empties ran up from Dunston to Lobley Hill, an engine took them along to Watergate where the cable took them up to Pennyfine. If my luck was in I hitched a lift all the way up on the empty sets and all the way back down on the full sets. An engine from Marley Hill pit brought the coal trucks down to the bank top at Pennyfine and took the empties back to the pit. The engine drivers often let me drive the engine up, through Pennyfine gates and into the pit. I used to enjoy blowing the hooter and if I helped the fireman throw coal onto the fire he sometimes made me a bacon sandwich, cooking the bacon on a shovel held above the coals.
I was sometimes out of luck and had to walk all the way up from Dunston to Marley Hill and back again. On route I used to help the railway workers fill the signal lamps with oil and climb up to replace them. I became quite an
expert hammering nails into the sleepers to keep the rails in.
It was a great job in good weather but horrendous in bad weather. We often trudged miles during the blizzards, fighting our way through giant snow drifts. We had to deliver and collect the mail regardless of the elements. Because of my route I knew every worker on the line, the Brakes-man who slowed the sets down with a huge wheel in his box, the Gate-keepers who opened and shut the road gates, the Signalmen , the Linesmen, the Guards. I have happy memories of the way they all treat me as a young lad, with great friendliness, good
humoured banter, and sharing their food with me. I must have been the best fed lad in Sunniside in the 1950`s, such a kind hearted lot of men.
In later years when I worked at Marley Hill pit on the screens filling the trucks with stone free coal I used to watch the trucks coming and going with a different perspective. I think I was the only one who knew exactly how the coal
reached the Staiths and onto the ships at Dunston. For a month or two I had worked as a switch lad on top of the Staiths guiding the trucks to the bays where the coal dropped into the chutes sliding down into the ship`s hold.
Again, when I think of the On/Off Setters sitting on the front of the sets moving at about 60m.p.h. with a hammer in their hand ready to knock the washer off the hawser at the top/bottom of the banks, I shudder to think that they wore no safety harness and could have met an instant but horrific death. Even when they detached the hawser they had to climb on the truck side and jump clear, often falling down, especially in icy weather.
Tanfield Railway (The Bowes Incline)
Click On Map to View
Can you imagine the serenity of the countryside between Bowes Bridge and Lobley Hill being shattered by the noise of trucks clattering their way down through the fields, carrying their load of coal from the local mines of Marley Hill, Byermoor, Hobson, Dipton and Tanfield, on their way to the Staiths at
Dunston? A distance of some 7 miles.
This was the Bowes Incline, part of the Tanfield Railway which is the oldest railway in the world. Originally, in the 17th Century, coal was carried by horse-drawn wagons on wooden rails but by the 1950s a loco-hauled railway was in operation. From Bakers Head Bank, near Sunniside, the wagons were lowered down a self-acting incline with a gradient of 1:11. At the top were two kips, one on each side of a central track. The loaded wagons, with a Bank-rider on the back, travelled down the central track whilst coming up, the empty trucks with a Bank-rider riding on the front, were led alternatively to the left and right kips. There was a passing place near Frugal Bridge and then a single line to Watergate Colliery. The Brakes-man controlled the journeys from the Bank Cabin. Locomotives took over at the bottom of the incline and hauled the wagons to Lobley Hill where they were marshalled ready for the next incline.
.Brakesman Will Harrison
The line eventually closed on the 7th September 1962. The Bank-rider that day was Mr. Norman Christer and the Brakes-man was Mr. Will Harrison. Mr. Harrison had spent all his working life on the railway and he recorded some of his memories in 1997.
Mr. Tommy Wharton, Whickham. Coalminer.
Tommy went to Whickham Front Street School until he was 14 years of age then after working for a short time on a farm he obtained a job in Axwell Park colliery. He worked there until it closed in 1954 then transferred to Blackburn Fell Drift mine where he stayed for 20 years. He then went to Marley Hill colliery where he did development work until 1982. Tommy and other miners were then moved to Monkwearmouth colliery at Sunderland, where he worked 15 miles out under the North Sea. In 1984-1985 the miners went on strike to prevent the wholesale closure of the mining industry. In September 1986 Tommy retired after working for 40 years "down the pit".
Taken from 21 Eleanor terrace,
looking up Whickham Banktowards the pit head
and pit yard, about 1940
During the strikes in the mid 1920s, my Grandfather, who had trained as a saddler in the first world war, was employed by the pit management as clerk and company weighman. My father and uncle were on strike and worked in the cobbler's shed to make a little money. This photograph was taken from his garden.
The Miners Strike 1926
We endured hard times in the village of Whickham in the depression years especially during the miners strike in 1926 as 60% of people were connected with Whickham, Whaggs, and Watergate pits. The strike was a very testing 26 weeks.
A soup kitchen was formed and run successfully in the grounds of Whickham Social Club. Boilers, which were coal fired gave a satisfying smell throughout the village.
The produce to supply these boilers was all given by local trades-people. Coal came from the colliery, bags of spuds plus turnips from the farmers, leeks, carrots, parsnips, etc., and from the market gardeners. The butcher would supply a barrowful of bones, often with a bit of meat on them, the grocer would provide a tin of bully beef or something similar and all labour was voluntary.
Basins, bowls, jugs and cans were prominent in the queue on soup days, in fact it was more of broth. If there was still a queue when the soup was running out, in went a bucket of hot water and every person received a ladle full. On special days uncooked fish was given out.
The Soup Kitchen Committee arranged comic football matches, including ladies, and various games and parades. These events raised money to purchase equipment and utensils such as ladles, scrubbing brushes, dishcloths, tea towels etc.
When the miner's strike was about two weeks old, games, chores, pastimes and pleasures almost ceased one afternoon when word was passed around that the Pit Galloways were being brought to Bank. Lads and men who had handled these ponies in the past collected at Whickham Pit gates to welcome their favourites.
They came up in the cage two at a time in care of the horse keeper and his assistant. Stepping out of the cage into daylight each pony was soon recognised by the lads who shouted out their names. There were Tip and Darky, Doctor and Dragon, Bullar and Freddie, Saxon and Sweep and so on. Lads were invited by the horse keeper to hold a pony in the pit yard until all (approximately 25) had been brought up.
Now some of these ponies had been underground for months, some even years. They were hard working, docile and very friendly. Now in the bright sunshine after two weeks rest they took some handling, there was plenty of hoof flying, (fortunately the shoes had been removed), prancing, neighing, squealing and kicking all round quite exciting.
All assembled they left the pit yard still prancing, neighing and kicking. Each handler had his work cut out to keep control.
As the strike was in the summer months, men and lads spent most of their time, after a few home chores, playing football and cricket on Cooks Field or taking a few favourite walks around the area. Fellside, Meadows, Sandy Lane, Washingwell Woods, Back Lonnon etc. were all popular places to walk.
Political meetings were often held off Front Street opposite the Hermitage, or on the ground behind Spoor P.M. Chapel . The speaker would often stand on a soapbox. Mr W. Whitely M.P. for the Blaydon division and Mr E. Shinwell from Seaham addressed and gave speeches to large gatherings of men.
Soup Kitchen in Dunston
In 1926 during the General Strike a soup kitchen was set up to help the needy during those hard times.
Hundreds of breakfasts and dinners were served in Christ Church, Church Hall, commonly known as "The Tin Mission".
This colliery was located very near to the River Tyne and the Staiths. It was sunk in 1874 but closed after 12 months and remained idle for 15 years until reopened in 1890. The mine employed 400 men and boys to work the Beaumont seam at 45 fathoms and the Brockwell seam at 74 fathoms. All of the shallower seams had been exhausted in previous centuries. Dunston Pit closed finally in 1947.
Pit Screens at Dunston Colliery
James Fitspatrick and his brother Bob worked at Dunston Pit from 1938 to 1942, they worked on the screens sorting the stones from the coal.
They were in a big, cold building with a corrugated roof, which was broken in places so the weather - wind rain and snow - came blowing through. At night the whole place was lit by a ghostly green light.
At the top of the building was the tipler, a machine which emptied the coal tubs onto a steel belt. Their job was to take out the stones and help the two men in charge to weigh and bag the coal. The iron belt pushed the coal towards the waggons which were under the screens. The machinery screeched and the noise was deafening. The young people who worked there hated the place, they likened it to Dante's Inferno. As they became used to the noise it had a hypnotic effect and lulled them into a trance-like stupor. This would be shattered by one of the bag-men throwing a stone or lump of coal at their frozen hands.
During the time the pit was waiting on, which meant no coal was coming up the cage, they would go downstairs to the bait cabin where a big open fire was blazing. The cabin was in a dreadful state, full of old coal sacks, bits of bait and some big, sprightly mice. They put their bottles of cold tea on the hob to warm up, if they forgot to loosen the cork, the bottle burst with the heat. An old man called Cloughie looked after this cabin.
During the winter months, they would get so sleepy in the warm cabin that Jack Lowes, the keeker, a slang name for a gaffer, would bang a lump of iron on a girder to wake them up and get them back to work. If this failed, he would appeal to their patriotism, "Come on lads, don't you know there's a war on?" Feeling ashamed they would go back to work.
One the lads working on the screens at that time was a local artist and would draw pictures of horror - Dracula and Frankenstein - all over the place. Another twist to his macabre humour was to hang bits of wire with faces on them in dark places. It was a frightening experience to feel these horrid figures touching their faces as they passed them in the dark. Another lad, nicknamed Tarzan, would swing on the topmost girder and drop into a moving coal truck below. To show his flexibility, he would, on occasion, drop 20 ft and at the last moment catch another girder to break his fall.
The conditions and existence were so insufferable that all the lads longed for the day when they would be able to go down the pit proper.
Above the screens, but part of the same building, was the coal cleaning plant where the small coal or duff was cleared of stones. This was done by taking the small coal along a series of rubber conveyor belts higher and higher until it was stored and crushed in a hopper at the very top of the building. Bill, the man in charge of the plant, had a wooden leg from an accident down the pit, and he patrolled the stairs up to the hopper. One lad always called him Captain Blythe, and was often heard to say, "I see Captain Blythe is on the bridge again".
The whole machinery of the plant was driven by two big fly-wheels with a shaft running between. One day when attending the plant, James got too near the shaft, his coat coiled around it and he was swung of his feet, his head just missing the floor. He went round and round with the shaft until he coat tightened and started to slow the fly-wheels down. He shouted frantically. Scullion, a screen lad, stopped the plant and untangled his coat. He was laid out on the stinking concrete floor covered in blood, and later dumped in a coal lorry and taken home.
As the country was at war they worked a Saturday shift 2a.m. to 8a.m. some of the youngsters didn't go to bed that day. They sometimes went to the ' Imperial' or 'Albert' cinema and often would fall asleep, paying the admission price just for a good sleep.
Some miners think pits like Dunston should be kept as museums, exactly as they were, so that the children of today could find out what it was like to work down the pits in 'The Good Old Days'!
Coal was mined in the Manor of Whickham prior to the 13th century and as early as 1356 the Bishop of Durham had five mines on lease in the Manor. Originally coal was obtained from near to the surface, pits being merely holes in the ground and the small quantities of coal extracted were largely for domestic use. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries coal production in the Manor of Whickham increased. Bell pits were sunk with shafts 3 metres in diameter to a depth of 10 metres at first increasing to over 100 metres. Coal was mined in all directions from the bottom of the shaft. It was possible to have an output of 90 tons per day from the most productive of these bell pits. By the beginning of the 18th century the shallow seams of coal in the area were becoming exhausted but coal continued to be mined from seams such as the Beaumont, Hutton and Busty which occurred at great depths.
Coal mining and heavy industry played a major part in the development of Whickham and the surrounding area, but agriculture also played its part. Much of the land above ground was given over to farming and market gardening. On the Ordnance Survey Map of 1897 there are many farms to be found. Today there are very few working farms and market gardens. There are still allotments to be found in the area.
Most of the farms in the area were owned by the Ravensworth or the Carr-Ellison Estates.
Dunston Millennium Festival held in Dunston Park, June 2000.
The Dunston Band (1968)
Dunston Band had a successful trip to Heererween, Holland, where they took part in an International Music Festival and Contest. In addition to the Festival, they also played in various Dutch towns and conveyed to the Mayors greetings from Councillor C.B. Westgarth, the Chairman of the Council.
Christmas Time is Party Time 1952
Dunston Junior school pupils acted two little plays at Christmas. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Who Killed The Giant."
Party games were in full swing at Byermoor Infants School Christmas Party.
Children at Whickham Infants School Christmas Party took time off from party games to sing carols.
Santa Claus was a popular visitor to Swalwell Infants School Christmas Party.
The League of Friends of Dunston Hill & Whickham Cottage Hospitals
The League held its annual dance on Saturday, March 29th in the Recreation Hall of the hospital. Evening Dress optional. Licensed Bar. Tickets 10/6d. Buffet Refreshments included.
A Grand Draw was held. The prize a day trip to Paris for two people. Tickets 1/- each.
Westway VE Street Party 1945.
Victory Street Party, Athol Steet Dunston, 1918
Reports from Dr. Andrew Smith, Medical Officer of Health.
1900 Sanitary Requirements
1. All slaughter houses to be registered.
2. An isolation hospital should be erected as soon as possible.
1908 The main drainage scheme has been completed by the inclusion of Whaggs Lane, Cornmoor Road, Millfield Road, Sunniside and part of Marley Hill. It has now been decided to connect up the remainder of Marley Hill. Byermoor is still drained by open ditches.
Slaughter houses still remain unregistered but are subject to regular inspections.
WPC Dorothy Hall
Portrait of Miss Dorothy Hall, born 1st April 1921, in her Woman's Auxiliary Corps uniform. She joined the WAPC in November 1941 and was stationed at Whickham in a shed behind the Sergeant's house. In 1944 she was moved to Barnard Castle.
Dunston Fire Brigade-(Circa1904) in Beresford Street, Dunston. This was an unofficial fire service started by Jimmmy Goulburn
The officer in charge was Mr Jimmy Goulbourn (sitting on the waggon).
Dunston fire station, Dunston Road.
The first Gateshead trams were steam driven but by the time the Dunston line was built the system was electrified. The route was single line along Pine Street then double line past the Gas Works. The line turned single again past the Team Gut, then a short double stretch, and another single stretch led to the double line terminus. The Dunston route was withdrawn on 4th August 1951 and crowds of people turned out to see what was the the last tramcar to run on Tyneside. Commemorative tickets were issued to the passengers.
Dunston station in 1905.
Another view of the station.
Dunston station in 1984.
Dunston railway employees.
An outing from Dunston station.
kThe line was opened in 1907 but the station did not open until 1909, trains running from Newcastle via the King Edward Bridge, but only as far as Dunston which was the terminus for passenger services, although goods trains continued to Blaydon and beyond. The population served by the station in 1911 was 6,050 but there were 44,780 tickets issued that year. There was previously another line through Dunston, which ran from Carlisle to Gateshead closer to the riverside and running up the Redheugh incline at Rabbit Banks. During World War 1 the Dunston passenger service was suspended from May 1918 to October 1919, when it recommenced. The infrequency of the passenger train service compared to the tram service led to its withdrawal following the General Strike in May 1926, although the line was still in use for other trains running westwards to Hexham and Carlisle. The station continued in use for goods traffic until 1965. The principal goods loaded at the station in 1913 were flour/bran, creosote/tar and timber.
In 1982 all Newcastle - Hexham - Carlisle train services were diverted to run south of the River Tyne, and Dunston station was re-opened for passengers on the 1st October 1984, none of the original station buildings remain, however. Access is down a ramp from the main road.
North Eastern Railway ticket
Tom Brymar's Ferry
In the 20s the smallest ferry across the Tyne was run by Tom Brymar who was known for his odd sayings and manners. Tom's ferry, a small rowing boat, operated near Clayton & Davie the ship breakers, to Vickers Armstrongs. He would row across for only a penny, by the second world war he charged 6d. Between trips he was to be found at The Skiff Public House.
Bob Gardener's Ferry
Some information would be helpful.
Roads in Dunston
Road making in Dunston In 1925 a road was made to join Holmeside Avenue to Ellison Road. Mrs. Hilda Thompson moved into her house in 1924. Beyond these houses lay the fields of Baldwin Flat farm. During the next ten years Holmeside Avenue was continued and Rochester, Horsley and Elsdon Gardens were built on this farmland.
Holmeside Avenue was known as Soap Works Avenue because so many C.W.S. Soap Works employees lived there. The decades from the twenties to the seventies saw the farm land behind Holmeside Avenue to Whickham Highway gradually disappear.
What did they do to our Street? They turned it into the Western By-pass.
Westway had a footpath, a wide grass verge, the road, then the same on the other side. Our end was a cricket pitch, a football pitch and a rounders park. We played cannon, relievo and hide-and-seek in the hedge at the end and round the corner of the end house where the occupant used to chase us away. Our Street was a cycle track, a roller skating rink and a river, where we enacted Tarzan swimming away from the alligators and then swinging on the lamp posts with the aid of our mams' washing lines, also used for mass skip-ins.
At the other end of our street were allotments and a railway line while we had a hedge with a large field and allotments behind it. There was also a short cut through to Wilson Street and the main road. The other cut through went behind the Masonic Hall and out onto Holmeside Avenue.
They pulled down the other side - all our playmates' (grown up now and moved on) parents moved away leaving our side, parents missing their friends and neighbours. They had shared their joys and sorrows, two Victory teas - with the dining tables down the middle of the street and the wind-up gramophone - the wartime air-raid shelters, dried fruit for special occasion cakes - everything was shared.
Some of us went to our weddings - there were babies born and there were funerals - all shared.
In May 1968 the then County Council had a meeting with the public.
November 1968. A Public Enquiry and compulsory purchase orders.
It was found that the conditions of those still living next to boarded up houses on Westway, Rochester Gardens and Dunston Road were becoming intolerable.
In 1971 Ellison Road was temporarily closed - the By-pass would go under Ellison and Dunston Roads to lessen the noise.
In 1972 the new link up from the new Redheugh Bridge, past Askew Road to link up with the Western By-pass near Westway was to commence with traffic diversion at Wood Street.
November/December 1973. Wood Street back to normal - that's what they said in the Focus. Sadly there would be no going back to normal for our street - Westway.
Winifred Robson, (née Britton)
Dunston "Board" School
Dunston Junior and Infant Schools were built on the site of an old orchard and opened as Board Schools by Ralph Carr-Ellison on December 14th 1874. They came under the auspices of the Whickham School Board. Under the Education Act of 1902 School Boards ceased to exist and the schools were taken over by Durham County Council from April 1st 1904. The name, "Board School" still lives on and even in 1974 it was still known as the Board School. It has been known as Durham Council School and Durham County School. In April 1974 it came under Gateshead MBC with the reorganisation of county boundaries and renamed Dunston Junior and Infant Schools. It is now called Dunston Riverside County School.
Pupils of Dunston Board School.
Dunston Church School
Dunston Church School was opened on November 4th 1818. The Church of England Mission was built opposite the school and later became Mission Cottages. These buildings continued in use as school and lecture rooms until the outbreak of the Second World War.
Dunston Hill School
Kingsmeadow Community Comprehensive School
At Easter 1959 the senior departments of Dunston Hill School and Dunston County School combined to form Dunston Hill Modern School, moving in to new premises on Market Lane. The Headmaster was Mr Henry Nattress who was succeeded by his Deputy Alan Johnson.
It became Dunston Comprehensive School in 1973. This coincided with the raising of the school leaving to sixteen. An extensive building programme was started comprising of a large dining hall and kitchen, until then the meals had been cooked at a central kitchen and brought to the school. At the same time a Science, Art and Handicraft Block was built with provision for two Year Group Assembly rooms and offices. The School at this time was organised on a Year Group system with a Head of Year.
In 1975 with the reorganisation of boundaries the School was transferred from Durham County Council to Gateshead Metropolitan Borough and the building programme was suspended. Other Headteachers were Mr Winwood and Mr Robinson.
In 1990 with the reorganisation of Secondary schools in Gateshead a new school was created, taking pupils and some teachers from Dunston Comprehensive, Saltwell Senior High School and Hillhead Junior High School. The school was
Stan MacRae's Memories of Shopping at the beginning of the centuryThe great difference between shopping before the War and now is the disappearance of the small specialist shops, often dealing in only one commodity compared with the multiple retailers and department stores of the present time. Along with this goes the disappearance of the old-time personal service of the small shopkeeper. Many shops greeted you at the door with attentive shop assistants and even chairs for the use of customers. You would be hard pressed to find a customer's chair anywhere in Asda or Tesco and even high class shops like Fenwicks, Bainbridges or House of Frazer.
The other difference is the disappearance of the street trader and the door-to-door salesmen, Ringtons being a notable exception with regular deliveries of tea, coffee etc. to your door even today. I remember the time when bread, vegetables, vinegar, lino dealers, haberdashery pedlars (usually Indians in colourful turbans), clothes prop men, umbrella repairers, knife sharpeners, pan and kettle menders (tinkers) and even dentists regularly visited the village of Dunston. My Grandmother told the tale of having her teeth pulled, without anaesthetic, in the kitchen by an itinerant dentist. Most of the milkmen have disappeared, not being able to compete with the price of milk at the big supermarkets.
Shopping in Ravensworth Road
Club Card from Stern's the chemists in Ravensworth Road.
Club Card - reverse side.
There were eight grocers in Ravensworth Road. Some have gone out of business but others, like Walter Willsons and the Gateshead Co-operative Society still exist, whilst others have been absorbed by the large supermarket chains. The small independent grocers however have all gone. I remember the system at the Co-op was butter, bacon, lard etc. were on one side of the shop and dry goods such as sugar, peas, lentils etc. were on the other side, which meant getting into the queue twice. There was no such thing as self-service. An assistant stood patiently whilst the customer decided what she wanted, and then weighed it out, put it on the counter and proceeded to the next purchase. Shopping was an art form in those days. The price was then calculated and money paid out of a big leather purse, not forgetting the dividend cheque of course. I can still remember my mother's and granny's cheque numbers - 829, 1945- my granny's being the lower as she had been a member for much longer. The dividend varied each quarter, depending on the profits made, anything between a shilling in the pound 5%, and 2/6 in the pound 12½ %. You could buy everything you needed on Ravensworth Road, from shoe repairs to a new wireless set, a new hat to a handmade corset. I had a good business collecting glass accumulators from neighbours and taking them to be charged at Rowells. I got a penny for each one. Another good scam was collecting bottles and getting the deposit, usually a penny, on returning them to the off-licence, of which there were many. Shops stayed open late in those days. I loved the smell and warmth of the gas lights lighting the shops, especially at Christmas time when the fruit shops had all their piled up on the pavement outside. Shopkeepers were characters - Fred Creed was a small man with a waxed moustache, straw boater on the back of his head, bustling about the shop exchanging gossip with the customers and jollying up the young shop assistant. Larner, the butcher, was a big man with a ruddy face, wearing a blue and white striped apron over a brilliant white coat, wielding a meat cleaver or saw and sharpening his knife on a steel rod. In contrast when you went into Miss Barnard's drapery shop you were met by a small bird-like lady dressed all in black, her hair drawn back in a bun, wearing gold rimmed spectacles perched on the end of her nose. She sold everything, from safety pins to hats, ribbons to elastic of various width and types. She even sold lace curtains. One of my favourite shops was McCoys, the pork butcher and I lingered there many a time savouring the smell of the roast pork, saveloys and other mouth- watering delicacies. I occasionally spent a penny on a saveloy dip, a large bread bun dipped in gravy with coloured sausage sticking out of it. I remember getting pig's trotters there, which I thought disgusting. Not far from McCoys was Culeys, the bakers. My Auntie worked there, so I sometimes got a broken cream cake or sly cake passed to me. Culeys had a bakery on Ravensworth Terrace, just where the library used to be in Brompton House. I often called there to see my Auntie Minnie, who was the pasty cook. Always I came away with something to eat.
|1||Mary Charlton||Fancy draper||Laws Stores|
|2||Robt Aggio||shopkeeper||Geo Shanley||grocer|
|4||Stephenson & Mallams||grocers confectioners|
|11||Geo Bell||fried fish|
|17||Norwood & Wilson||greengrocers|
Co-op Soc Ltd
|49||John Wharrier||butcher & fruiterer|
|82||Ralph Broadbent||fancy draper|
|89||Thos Surtees & Sons||boot dealers|
|97||Benj Chas Attwood||fruiterer|
|121||Progressive Co||fancy dealers|
|129||John McCoy||pork butcher|
|132||Jos Wm Bonner||newsagent|
|136||Mary Menzies||hosier||Alex Usher||confectioner|
|137||James Goulburn||butcher||Ann Johnston||confectioner|
|147||W & E Bell||draper|
|192||Geo Armour & Son||confectioner|
|196||Horn & Son||grocer|
|204||Wm Gray||beer retailer|
|206||Walter Willson Ltd||grocer|
|208||Emerson Shepherd||boot dealer|
|222||Norwood & Wilson||greengrocers|
|228||Kate Taylor||general dealer|
|Miss Isabella Alcraft||grocer||Clifford Brayson||fried fish|
|Arthur T Brunswick||butcher||Jos Eastland||hairdresser|
|Thos Coulson||hardware||Cassie Hackney||confectioner|
|Lambton House||Robt Hall||fried fish|
|Coulthard & Co||grocer|
|1||Mary Charlton||Fancy draper||Laws Stores|
|2||Robt Aggio||shopkeeper||Geo Shanley||grocer|
|4||Stephenson & Mallams||grocers confectioners|
|11||Geo Bell||fried fish|
|17||Norwood & Wilson||greengrocers|
Co-op Soc Ltd
|49||John Wharrier||butcher & fruiterer|
|82||Ralph Broadbent||fancy draper|
|89||Thos Surtees & Sons||boot dealers|
|97||Benj Chas Attwood||fruiterer|
|121||Progressive Co||fancy dealers|
|129||John McCoy||pork butcher|
|132||Jos Wm Bonner||newsagent|
|136||Mary Menzies||hosier||Alex Usher||confectioner|
|137||James Goulburn||butcher||Ann Johnston||confectioner|
|147||W & E Bell||draper|
|192||Geo Armour & Son||confectioner|
|196||Horn & Son||grocer|
|204||Wm Gray||beer retailer|
|206||Walter Willson Ltd||grocer|
|208||Emerson Shepherd||boot dealer|
|222||Norwood & Wilson||greengrocers|
|228||Kate Taylor||general dealer|
|Miss Isabella Alcraft||grocer||Clifford Brayson||fried fish|
|Arthur T Brunswick||butcher||Jos Eastland||hairdresser|
|Thos Coulson||hardware||Cassie Hackney||confectioner|
|Lambton House||Robt Hall||fried fish|
|Coulthard & Co||grocer|
Photographs Showing Shops on Ravensworth Road
Shopping in other Parts of Dunston
|George Burns||shopkeeper||John Close||shopkeeper|
|James Goulburn||butcher||Wm Griggs||hairdresser|
|Chas Moffatt||hairdresser||Martha Noval||shopkeeper|
|41||John R Bell||chemist|
Return to map of Dunston Shops
|9||Miss Eliz Beveridge||grocer||Chas Fish||beer retailer|
|Mary Murton||shopkeeper||Sarah Oysten||shopkeeper|
|92||Jos Eastland jnr||hairdresser|
Return to map of Dunston Shops
|Sam Buttery||beer retailer|
|29||Richard Culey||cycle repairs|
Return to map of Dunston Shops
|James Gardener||beer retailer|
Return to map of Dunston Shops
|1||Stephenson & Mallams||grocers/confectioners|
|13||J G Lee||fruiterer|
|Jos Stokoe||grocer||Hannah McCauley||shopkeeper|
Return to map of Dunston Shops
|16||Ernie Clasper||cycle repairer|
Return to map of Dunston Shops
|55||John & M Tindale||shopkeeper|
|Catherine Pickering||cocoa rooms|
|Thos Plews & Co||outfitters|
Return to map of Dunston Shops
|H H Foster||tobacco/stationer|
Return to map of Dunston Shops
The legendary Granny Dawson was a regular sight in Dunston early in the century. She spent a lifetime working at her family's Market Lane Dairy, herding and milking cows and delivering their milk from her float seven days a week.
Mr. Morrison was the owner and manager of the Imperial Cinema known locally as the 'Bottom Hall'. It opened twice-nightly six nights a week, changing films each Monday and Thursday, and had a film and a short as well as the Pathe News. Films were then classified into A and B films.
There was also a Saturday matinee for children, which was very popular; entry was one penny or two pence for the back two rows, which had plush seats. Some parents gave their children two pence with the intention of keeping them away from the riff-raff in the penny seats- little did they know that one penny was spent on sweets and their offspring met their friends in the penny seats!
When there was a film on involving cavalry and Indians or cowboys chasing baddies, the row of the stamping feet and the yelling was deafening! Mr Morrison did a wonderful job of controlling the children and the fleas, by continuously walking around shouting chocolates, chewing gum and cigarettes or squirting 'Flit' everywhere.
Before the Second World War,at Christmas-time, every child was given an orange. He also provided the tea at the Dunston Church School Christmas party.
Billy Griggs, 1903-1989
Billy Griggs moved to Wellington Road from Blyth when he was just three years old, and spent almost all his lifetime as a barber, having started as a lather boy when he was ten. When his employer went off to fight during The First World War, Billy gained experience in all aspects of the business. When his employer returned and forced him to take a cut in wages, Billy at the age of 16, decided to strike out on his own.
He opened for business in a wooden hut in Railway Street, where he stayed until it was demolished. He then converted the front room of his home into a shop. Dunston's "Billy the Barber" was cutting hair in this shop until he was 80. Even after retirement he continued to trim hair for his family. In 1983, Billy and his wife Hilda celebrated their Diamond Wedding. Billy died in 1989, aged 86.
Joe Chucks a well-known character in the twenties lived in Athol Street.
He was a sawdust man. He collected sawdust from the sawmill and supplied local butchers shops and pubs.
At the annual carnival he entertained the crowds with his antics on the slippery pole. He regularly took part in the annual road race in Dunston when he again entertained the crowds. On these occasions he wore shorts and had his head shaved and painted like an Easter Egg. He usually came in last, which was not surprising as he had frequent stops for liquid refreshments. One year he won the race, but it was said that he took a short cut through the Park!
He also played football. Perhaps you have a story to tell about his exploits during this activity!
Joe had a friend called Teddy Whipps. Teddy had a wooden leg, which he sometimes removed and used as an offensive weapon!
In the 20s Tom Brymar, who was known for his odd sayings and manners, ran the smallest ferry across the Tyne. Tom's ferry, a small rowing boat operated from near Clayton & Davie the ship breakers, to Vickers Armstrongs. He would row across for only a penny; by the Second World War he charged 6d. Between trips he was to be found at The Skiff Public House.
At one time he owned a motorbike and was involved in an accident.
Dunston Tram Service opened.
1904 Dunston Board School (built 1874) was taken over by the County Council; the headmaster was Mr. C. McIntyre.
1905 Dunston Colliery opened. Dunston Christ Church had the chancel extended and a new vestry and organ.
1906 Wood Street Methodist Church was opened.
1907 Dunston Excelsior Social Club was formed in a house in Athol Street; the present club building was opened in 1910. There was a Rifle Range in the club during the First World War and Dunston Lads became the English Rifle Champions. Dunston Railway Station was opened.
1908 The Co-op Flour Mill site was extended to include the Soap Works; key workers were brought from Manchester Soap Works.
1909 An addition to St Phillips Neri RC School was made in Dunston.
1910 Dunston Hill School was opened. Dunston Power Station opened and was called The Newcastle Electric Supply Company.
1911 Dunston Wesylan Chapel had its own Cricket Club.
1914 Dunston Hill Hospital was converted into an Orthopaedic Hospital.
1920 Dunston Chapels had a Ladies Hockey Team and a Football Team.
1922 Wood Street Chapel was extended.
1923 The opening of Dunston Social Club (its origins go back to 1983 and The Clavering Avenue Club).
1924 The Boys Brigade began in Wood Street Chapel.
1925 Wood Street Chapel held an "Electric Lighting Night" after cables were laid from The Dun Cow to Four Lane Ends.
1926 Dunston Station was closed to passenger traffic. Many people were out of work due to the General Strike and meals were served in the "Tin Mission".
1929 The first St. Nicholas's Church was opened in Dunston.
1930 A new Catholic school was built in the Teams for the senior pupils from St Phillips school. It was called St Joan of Arc. Commencement of the building of Dunston Power Station.
Dunston Park was developed, before that people took a short cut over waste ground.
1931 Dunston Power Station became the Central Electricity Supply Company.
1933 Dunston Power Station was replaced and was the first power station of frame and glass wall construction in England and possibly the world!
A new bridge was constructed over the gut (River Teams) in Dunston.
1935 The Silver Jubilee of King George V. Celebration of 100 years of Methodism in Dunston.
1936 Men on the dole worked on building a bowling green in Dunston Park.
1937 Coronation of King George VI; schoolchildren given commemorative cups. New extensions to the Flour Mill at Dunston.
1939 Dunston Lecture Hall was requisitioned for the Home Guard.
1940 Temporary closure of Dunston Council school and St. Philips Neri because of the evacuation of pupils. The remainder of teachers and pupils worked on a part time basis with their own Head Teachers at Dunston Hill School. Soldiers from Dunkirk billeted in Dunston School - on arrival they were offered a hot bath and their first good meal since leaving the French beaches! Troops from The BEF were billeted overnight in the concert room of the Excelsior Club and the Lecture Hall, Dunston.
1941 Catholic school reopened in January and the council school reopened on August 26th.
1947 Dunston Pit closed
1950 Methodists raised funds to repair and decorate the Lecture Hall after its use by the Home Guard.
1951 Dunston Tramway, the last surviving tramway on Tyneside, closed. The last tram ran at 11.22 pm on the 4th August.
1953 A pig was roasted in Dunston Park to celebrate the coronation - a washout due to heavy rain. Holmeside Hall Labour Social Club was opened in Dunston. Hexham Road Methodist Church celebrated its Golden Jubilee.
1954 Gateshead County Borough applied for permission to build a secondary school on Whickham Highway.
1956 Wood Street Chapel celebrated its Golden Jubilee.
1959 A proposal for swimming baths at the junction of Market Lane and Carrs Bank.
1961 The plan to build swimming baths in Dunston was approved.
1963 Wood Street and Hexham Road Methodist Churches united.
1964 Plans were approved for a Health Centre in Dunston.
1965 Dunston swimming baths opened. Dunston Station was closed to goods traffic. Consecration of the new St. Nicholas Church.
1966 Mount Hooley Estate, Dunston was completed.
1969 Dunston Social Club's new premises opened.
1972 Temporary closure of Ellison Road, Dunston, in connection with the construction of the Western Bypass.
1973 Beech tree on Dunston Bank given a preservation order; estimated age 300 years. New mini-roundabout at bottom of Carrs Bank.
1974 Centenary year for Dunston County Infant and Junior School.
Dunston Staiths, the largest wooden structure in Europe, became a listed building.
1976 Dunston Parish Church closed because of subsidence.
1979 The last ship was loaded at Dunston Staiths.
1980 Dunston Power Station ceased generating electricity. Wood Street Chapel was demolished.
1981 The Lecture Hall was hired by the BBC for the filming of "Play for Today".
1984 Work began on the Metro Centre. Dunston Railway Station reopened.
1985 Ravensworth Road and Dunston Hill Chapels together celebrated 150 years of Methodism in Dunston.
1990 Gateshead Garden Festival took place on Norwood Coke Works Site, which earlier (1874) was a flower garden.
2000 Millennium Festival in Dunston Park.
Dr Thomas Nicholson Wilthew
Doctor Thomas Nicholson Wilthew lived at Hillcrest until 1922 when he moved to Ravensworth Road, Dunston. He had a day surgery at Whickham in 1914 and another at Swalwell in 1934.
Sergeant Major Charlie Challoner of Cyprus Crescent Dunston served in two world wars and was at one time Chairman of the Eleven Club and also of the Dunston branch of the British Legion.
William Ritchie worked on the railway. He lived in 31 Holly Avenue Dunston and served right through the First World War with the Northumberland Fusiliers. It was a railway battalion equipped by the railway and handed over as a battalion, complete with horses, wagons and men who were all railway workers. This battalion was recruited at York. In 1966 he was Chairman of the Eleven Club in Dunston and was also president of the Dunston branch of the British Legion. He used to spend Armistice day selling poppies in Dunston.
James Goulbourn, 1871-1955
James, a butcher by trade, was a very well-known and well-respected personality in Dunston at the beginning of the century. He was very involved in many aspects of the community and died aged 84 after a very active life.
As a young man he could be seen riding his bicycle around Dunston. He was still riding his bike at the age of eighty. He was the instigator of many organisations and events in the local community.
Here are some of his activities as told by his grandson Tom Goulbourn. As well as running his own butcher's shop he was; 21 years on Whickham Urban District Council, Captain of the first Dunston Fire Brigade, Captain of The Lord Collingwood Rifle Club, Founder of The Dunston Mechanics Institute (1913) which he always referred to as the "abode I love" (known locally as the Abode of Love) and founder of the now extinct Eleven Club.
He was a Special Constable from 1914 to 1945 when he was awarded a long service medal with two bars.
On the outbreak of the First World War he formed the Dunston Rifle Club into a company. This was the same as the Home Guard in the Second World War. He used to march them up and down Cloddy Lonnen, near where The Metro Centre is now. He led them on a pony, whilst a conveyance followed behind with a barrel of beer. They attended a rifle range to practise shooting.
James had a medal made for each of the members.
When they met in the Mechanics Club to celebrate the Armistice in 1918 James suggested they should form The Eleven Club which would meet each November the 11th to commemorate Armistice Day.
He also owned a horse drawn charabanc and a pony and trap. He used the charabanc to transport various groups around the district and on occasions decorated it for the Dunston Carnivals.
Gallery - James Goulbourn
Whickham U. D. Council 1910
Fire brigade 1904
Rifle club Challenge cup
Garbutt Cup Certificate
Carnival Certificate 1928
James Goulbourn and friend
Raymond Hudson, known to his friends as Rocky, was a well-known footballer from Dunston. He played for Newcastle United in the seventies for four seasons but did not have a great deal of success.
He went to the United States in1976, to try his luck in the North American Soccer League. He loved everything about America and for thirteen years played football for Fort Lauderdale Strikers lining up with such notable players as George Best and Gerd Muller. He was later made captain and played against international stars such as Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Pele.
He had many fans; James Last (bandleader) and Brian Johnson ( of AC/DC, another Dunston lad) are two of the most famous. On one occasion, when James Last was playing at The City Hall, Ray's father and mother were invited to the concert and he met them in the interval and told them that he enjoyed Ray's style of football.
When his playing career was over he had a business cleaning swimming pools, together with doing some football commentating and coaching children in a local youth league. Last year he was doing a T.V. commentary for the Miami Fusion team, who were not doing well with their Brazilian coach. The owners asked him to come in as a caretaker manager and they won their first three games.
This is his first year as a top manager and he has taken the team from Major League no-hopers to Eastern Division Champions in just one season. He still returns to the North East regularly, not only to see his family but also scouting for players.
Ray's parents Doris and Wilf still live in Whickham.
Paul Gascoigne ("Gazza")
Paul was born in Gateshead, May 27 1967 and attended Brighton Avenue Primary School, Breckenbeds Junior High and Heathfield High. He moved to Dunston when he was 11 years old and lived in Spoor Street. At Breckenbeds he played on the school team. He was a talented sportsman, being also good at tennis, badminton and rugby.
He Played football for Redheugh Juniors in the Sunday League until he signed for Newcastle aged 14. He made his debut for Newcastle in August 1985 aged 18 when he played against Southampton at the Dell. The Sunday Sun reports that he "emerged as the game's outstanding performer".
Quotations from a former teacher at Breckenbeds School who taught Paul Gascoigne
"Paul Gascoigne was a professional joker with a wicked sense of humour."
"He played for the County under 16s when he was only 13!"
"Ian McFaul (an ex Newcastle goal keeper) came to Breckenbeds to sign him up for Newcastle when he was only 14 years of age."
"He was considered to be, at one stage in his career, the best footballer in the world!"
He joined the England Under 21s in 1987 and made his debut in June of that year against Morocco, where he scored in the 2-0 victory. He played for Newcastle United until 1988, when he moved to Tottenham Hotspur, signing for a record British fee of £2 million.
In 1990 Paul played for England in the World Cup in Italy and his emotional tears as England lost in the semi-finals to West Germany made him world famous. His celebrity status in the UK led to him releasing "Fog on the Tyne" as a single. It went to Number Two in the Charts.
Paul played for Tottenham Hotspur until 1992. They were FA Cup winners in 1991 and an injury sustained during that Cup Final meant he was out of the game from 1991 to 1992.
His subsequent career:
1992: signed for Italian team Lazio for £5.5 million.
1995: signed for Glasgow Rangers.
1996: played for England in the Euro '96 tournament, where they lost in the semi-finals to Germany.
1997: signed for Middlesbrough.
August 2000: moved to Everton FC.
A publicity photograph.
Victoria Hopper, born 1909 in Vancouver, emigrated to Dunston with her family when she was 14. Victoria was brought up in the town of Trail in the Rocky Mountains. The daughter of Matthew Garfield Hopper and his wife Elizabeth (nee Rutherford), Victoria was educated at Central High School in Newcastle.
The 1901 census reveals:
Father: Matthew Hopper born 1854. Mother: Elizabeth born 1872
Sister: Elizabeth born 1888. Brother: Matthew born 1882. Father: house painter
As a child she won an all-Canada piano playing competition. She was influenced by her aunt, Sylvia Nelis, who had sung coloratura parts with the Beecham Opera company, and later became one of the vocal successes in Nigel Playfair's production of The Beggar's Opera at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Now Vickie, with the help of singing lessons with Dino Borgioli, a popular tutor of the day, and some gentle advice from Eugene Gossins, set about further achievement'. In Hansel and Gretel Vickie's Gretel, sung in a pleasing childish way, was favourably compared with the 'hard brilliance one has often heard in this opera'
She was married to stage and film producer Basil Dean at the registry office in Dunmow, Essex on 12 May 1934 with her mother in attendance. Dean was 21 years her senior. They lived in an old country house near Dunmow and also had a flat in Lowdes Square, London. Her interests were sailing, climbing and furnishing her two homes. The marriage was eventually dissolved in 1939, she then later married actor Peter Walter in 195l.
Reading, swimming and walking.
She formerly lived at Osiea Tree Cottage Newington Folkestone Kent
She started singing at the Webber-Douglas School of Singing with a view to an operatic career, and she appeared in a performance at the Webber-Douglas School in May 1933 as Martine in the play of that name. She was seen by Sydney Carroll, then manager of the Ambassador's Theatre, who transferred the play to that theatre 23 May 1933 when she made her first appearance on the professional stage, scoring an immediate success. Ivor Novello who had seen her in Martine at the Ambassadors Theatre recommended her to producer Basil Dean. She was also seen by Carol Reed (later a famous film director), on behalf of Sydney Carroll and immediately placed under contract. Dean went to see Martine 'and was struck by the young actresses possibilities. The gentle play and the intimate theatre were exactly suited to the reticences of an obviously immature talent. After much cogitation and many camera tests Victoria Hopper was cast to play Tessa in The Constant Nymph .
Victoria Hopper, well known from the 1930s for her achievements on stage and screen, was described as "petite and fair-haired". She was a great success in her very first play, "Martine", in which she starred. Victoria went on to star in several plays, musical shows and in seven films.
The local people were very proud of her. The Northern Echo on Friday 24th January 1936 reported in 'News of the North' that: "Victoria Hopper, the Dunston girl, will take the name part in a film based on the life of Grace Darling which will probably be made in the autumn." In fact, there is no evidence that this film materialised.
On 4th November 1935 she performed the opening ceremony at a cinema in South Shields, the Black's Regal in King Street. The Mayor and the St Hilda Colliery Band were in attendance.
We are indebted to film-makers/writers Austin and Howard Mutti-Mewse for the following piece and for the publicity still shown above.
Victoria Hopper, the petite and entrancingly beautiful blonde with retrousse nose and rosebud lips was a British screen actress of the 1930s, who played leading roles in a number of films before marrying noted film director and producer Basil Dean.
Her biggest film of note was 'The Constant Nymph' (1933), the second of three versions of Margaret Kennedy's novel about a sickly, sensitive Belgian schoolgirl, Tessa Sanger (Victoria Hopper), in love with world-famous composer Lewis Dodd (Brian Aherne), who marries her wealthy cousin Florence (Leonora Corbett). Undermining the already delicate Tessa's health, the composer realises that life without Tessa is unbearable and leaves his unloving wife - but sadly too late.
"I was nothing more than a school girl when I came across Margaret Kennedy's book," she said. "A friend and I had seen the silent version of 'The Constant Nymph' with Mabel Poulton at the cinema and were thrilled to the marrow. We thought of Mabel as the loveliest person in the world, for all intents and purpose she was Tessa."
Years later Sydney Carroll saw Victoria Hopper at the Webber-Douglas School of Music where she was studying singing, and cast her as the lead in 'Martine' at the Ambassador's Theatre. She then played Gretel in 'Hansel and Gretel' (1933) at the Drury lane theatre. It was there that Basil Dean noticed Hopper, gave her a screen test and cast her in the 'Talkie' version of 'The Constant Nymph' (1933).
Film Fashionland Magazine wrote: "Victoria Hopper gives a heart stirring performance. Her appeal on screen is breathtaking, her beauty enchanting." In March 2005, Victoria read the same review and with a hearty roar cried "What a load of bunkum!"
She was born on May 24, 1909 in Vancouver and educated in Trail, a small Canadian mountain town. Her father Matthew Gerard Hopper and wife Elizabeth Rutherford Hopper moved the family to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1922 with the intention of taking over his father's ailing manufacturing business. "I had no interest in anything beyond performance. Looking back I was a show-off," she said. Victoria Hopper frequently skipped school "I adored the pictures," she said.
She followed 'The Constant Nymph,' with the lead in Basil Dean's 'Lorna Doone' (1935). "Find me a girl that has ever read that story and failed to picture herself as Lorna? I took the book as part of my school leaving exam back in Newcastle and I soaked myself in it." Like with the part of Tessa the role of Lorna was a dream come true for Victoria Hopper. But for Dean 'Lorna Doone' was a headache and a financial flop.
Filming on location about the village of Oare, in the Doone Valley was particularly meaningful to the young actress as many of her ancestors settled there and were buried in the village churchyard. "I longed to see their faces if they knew a descendant of theirs was anything as disreputable as an actress!"
She also remained a star of the West End playing Prue Sarn in Mary Webb's 'Precious Bain' (1930) with Hilda Campbell-Russell, as Hazel Woodus in 'Gone to Earth' (1931) and in JM Barrie's 'Mary Rose' (1932).
She lost out on the lead in 'Frail Women' (1932) to Margaret Vines and was heartbroken not to be chosen for the 1934 adaptation of Margaret Kennedy's 'Little Friend.' Nova Pilbeam was cast instead or as Aisla Crane the Emlyn Williams vehicle 'The Frightened Lady' (1934), when actress Belle Crystal beat her to it.
Her theatre work also included the role of Edith in 'The Melody That Got Lost' (1936), as Monica Brooke in 'Autumn' (1937) and as Freda Johnson in 'Johnson Over Jordan' (1938).
"I soon released people were jealous of my being married to Basil Dean and that's why I lost out on so many film roles," she said last year. "Correct he was older than me and film folk simply saw me as being ambitious and something of a social climber. The truth is he was a womaniser and stupidly I stayed with him - I was only lucky in love when I married Peter (Marshall). "
She retreated to a remote cottage in St Mary in the Marsh with a bevy of cats and pet sheep, relying on a paid companion. Victoria hopper was distressed at being "completely forgotten" and blamed her isolation from the industry on her marriage to Basil Dean. "Everyone thought I'd married Basil to further my career this simply wasn't true. He was a charming man and so much more sophisticated than the other men I knew."
Her other roles include: 'Whom the Gods Love' (1936) with Stephen Haggard cast as Mozart Basil Dean featured his wife Victoria Hopper as Mozart's wife Constance Weber and Liane Haid as Mozart's first love Aloysia Weber.
After Basil Dean left Ealing Studios Victoria Hopper divorced him after she learnt of his having conducted a long affair with a married woman. Hopper found her career at standstill. John Trevelyan, then Secretary of the Board of Film Classification and a neighbour at the Dean's Grovensor Square home found Victoria a job as an elocution teacher at Ashford technical College.
She had an agent Eric Glass and did find odd supporting roles on television and with the outbreak of war was sent by Dean to entertain the troops with ENSA. Dean was given the job of heading ENSA by Prime Minister Chamberlain. She toured with ENSA in France and then on tour with the Central R.A.F Band visiting R.A.F. bases across Britian joining the likes of Pat Kirkwood, Gracie Fields, Mildred Shay and Tommy Trinder.
One critic remarked that it was only Hopper's marriage to Dean that had made her an actress in the first place. "She couldn't act for toffee and owed her career to delusion."
"I was the focus of much admiration when dinning at the Ivy," she once said. "If I tried to dine there now the doors would be shut tight - nobody knows who I am anymore." During the early 1930s she and friends Peggy Blythe and Renee Clama were known as the three Blondes at London's Berkeley Grill and Victoria a favourite for afternoon tea at Claridges.
Basil Dean's two sons Winton and Vernon remained in touch with their stepmother over the years. "I liked them very much," Hopper said. "I loved Basil's sons - sometimes more than he," she said.
After the war, Victoria Hopper resumed her theatre career with 'Yellow Sands' (1945) at the Saint Martins Theatre and toured with Sir Cedric Hardwickle in 'The House on the Bridge' (1945). In 1947 she played Lady Mannering in 'Said the Spider!' before touring as Helen Bligh in 'My Mother Said...' (1949). Her last stage role was that of Hester Byfield in 'Serious Charge' (1955).
In 2004, Victoria Hopper broke her promise to herself that she would no longer be photographed when she sat for New York photographer Elena Hill and film makers Austin and Howard Mewse. On looking at the prints she turned up her nose "I never much liked my looks."
Victoria Hopper celebrated her 97th birthday with friends, she now required twenty-four hour care and joked "I haven't enough life in me to blow out my birthday candles."
Victoria Hopper died at her home on Romney Marsh on 22 January 2007.
A list of her theatrical appearances follows.
At the Cambridge Theatre, Dec 1933 appeared as Gretel in Humperdinck's opera Hansel and Gretel.
Drury Lane April 1934, played Mary in The Three Sisters. (Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein musical with Charlotte Greenwood, Adèle Dixon and Stanley Holloway). A contemporary account reads;
"Three Sisters 'On that huge stage and in the company of such experience players as Charlotte Greenwood, Adèle Dixon and Stanley Holloway, 'her light sweet voice and reticent personality were completely lost. Thus, the bright start to her career was momentarily dimmed; so, too, was our association.'"
Duchess, March 1835, Judy Evison in Cornelius.
Palace, Manchester.Dec 1935,appeared for the first time in pantomime as Princess Sylvia in Jack and the Beanstalk.
Open Air, Sept 1936,played The Lady in Comus.
Embassy, Dec 1936, Edith in The Melody That Got Lost.
St Martins, Oct 1937, Monica Brooke in Autumn.
Playhouse, Liverpool, Nov 1938, David in The Boy David.
New, London Feb 1939, Freda Johnson in Johnson Over Jordan by J B Priestley.
A contemporary comment reads:
'Vickie played her (Jill Johnson's) daughter with a kind of gay sincerity that was equally touching
Toured, March 1939, as Sylvia in Drawing room.
"Q", Dec 1939, played Kate in The Two Bouquets.
Subsequently toured for ENSA in France and later toured RAF stations, with the central RAF Band.
Toured June 1943, as Angèle in The Count of Luxembourg.
Toured 1943 - 44 in North Africa and the Middle East, as Miss Smith in Springtime For Henry.
Lyric, Jan 1944, played Pat Keppel in Zero Hour.
Toured September 1944, as Deborah in The House On The Bridge with Sir Cedric Hardwicke with whom she subsequently toured for the BLA in Yellow Sands.
St Martins, 1945, played Margaret Helse in The Shop At Sly Corner, which ran for over a year.
Toured June 1946, as Mrs Sedley in Vanity Fair and played the same part at the Comedy Oct 1946.
Wimbledon, Oct 1947, Lady Mary Manners in "....Said The Spider!�? and played the same part at the Embassy, Nov 1947.
Fortune, June 1949, Helen Bligh in "My Mother Said....�?.
Toured 1949 and appeared at Wimbledon, Oct 1948 as Corinne Mahon in The Man They Acquitted.
Gateway, April 1950, Phylis Hengist in Marshall's Aid.
Toured 1950, as Norah Fuller in Queen Elizabeth Slept Here.
Garrick, February 1955, played Hester Ryfield in Serious Charge.
(From Who's Who In The Theatre, various dates)
BBC Television broadcasting began in 1936, but was confined to the London area.
Magic 1937; Cornelius 1938; London Walk 1938; Nine Till Six 1938.
She appeared in the following films.
The Constant Nymph (1933) - director, Basil Dean
Lorna Doone (1935) - director, Basil Dean
Whom the Gods Love (1936) - director, Basil Dean
The Lonely Road (1936) - director, James Flood
Laburnum Grove (1936) - director, Carol Reed
The Mill on the Floss (1937) - director, Tim Whelan
Escape From Broadmoor (1948) - director, John Gilling
Synopsis/credits of her films
The Constant Nymph (Drama) 1933. Director Basil Dean
A schoolgirls love affair with a famous musician, from a 1926 play by Dean and Margaret Kennedy's novel. Girl played by Victoria Hopper. Film's treatment said by Kine weekly to be unimaginative.
Victoria Hopper   - Tess Sanger
Brian Aherne   - Lewis Dodd
Leonora Corbett   - Florence
Lyn Harding   - Albert Sanger
Mary Clare   - Linda Sanger
Jane Baxter   - Antonia Sanger
Peggy Blythe   - Lena Sanger
Lorna Doone (Drama) 1935. Director Basil Dean
Dean tried hard to promote her as a film star. Her delicate personality failed to make much impact on the cinema public. Much of the film was shot in the West Country and it was beautiful to look at, with Loder seeming more at ease than usual as Jan Ridd, but it was too long and suffered from a fault which had earlier been founding many literary adaptations, that of trying to crowd too much of the book into the film. To Dean's distress it was derided at a charity premiere (at the Prince Edward cinema in Soho).
Victoria Hopper   - Lorna Doone
John Loder   - John Ridd
Mary Clarke   - Mistress Sara Ridd
Frank Cellier   - Jeremy Stiikles
Roy Emerton   - Carver Doone
Herbert Lomas   - Sir Ensor Doone
Roger Livesey   - Tom Faggus
Peggy Blythe   - Girl
Margaret Lockwood   - Ann Ridd
Margaret Lockwood appeared in her first speaking part.
From Basil Dean's autobiography: 'I thought Lorna would be ideal for her: an unspoilt personality, a determined chin, steadfast character, and a pleasant light singing voice seemed exactly suited to Blackmore's heroine.' When the film was put on at the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand at Christmas time (1934) it received favourable notices, especially for the beautiful photography of Robert Martin, who had remained our principal cameraman since his arrival in 'the Shires', top booted but without spurs, to photograph the opening sequence of Escape. The film did good business at the Adelphi according to our distribution manager, even better in northern cities, and, best of all, on re-issue during the Second World War'.
Whom The Gods Love (Drama) 1936. Director Basil Dean
Dean had long wanted to make a film about Mozart which would embody the high cultural ambitions with which he had founded the company and provide and important part for Victoria Hopper as Mozart's wife. The film finally came out in 1936 and it was a failure. It was said to be too slow and Victoria Hopper and Stephen Haggard, promising young nephew of Rider Haggard, were too inexperienced and unknown to carry the film. It was a turning point in Dean's life. The production caused a rift between dean and his friends and loyal supporters, Stephen Courtauld and his wife. 9360000 budget exceeded and cost of locations and studio work in Austria soared. Vienna and Salzburg in 1935. Crowds scenes expensive, top technicians and London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham in operatic extracts in UK all added to cost. Released 1936.
Victoria Hopper   - Constance Mozart
Stephen Haggard   - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
John Loder   - Prince Lobkowitz
Liane Haid   - Aloysia
Jean Cadell   - Frau Mozart
Hubert Harben   - Leanard Mozart
Marie Lohr   - Empress
Frederick Leister   - Emperor
The Lonely Road (also known as Scotland Yard) (Drama) 1936. Director James Flood
An adaptation of a Nevil Shute novel.
Victoria Hopper   - Molly Gordon
Clive Brook   - Malcolm Stevenson
Nora Swinburne   - Lady Anne
Malcolm Keene   - Professor
Cecil Ramage    - Major Norman
Charles Farrell   - Palmer
Laburnum Grove (Comedy) 1936. Director Carol Reed
Carol Reed directed a faithful adaptation of the neatly constructed Priestley play Laburnum Grove, about a respectable suburban householder who shocks his sponging relatives by telling them that the money they are so anxious to cadge was made by forgery. The part was played by Edmund Gwenn, the acting was excellent and the film was greatly admired.
Victoria Hopper   - Elsie Radfern
Edmund Gwenn   - Mr Radfern
Cedric Hardwicke   - Mr Baxley
Ethel Coleridge   - Mrs Baxley
Katie Johnson   - Mrs Radfern
Francis James   - Harold Russ
James Harcourt   - Joe Fleton
David Hawthorn   - Inspector Stack
Mill On The Floss. (Drama) 1937. Director Tim Whelan
An adaptation of George Eliot's novel about feuding Victorian families set in rural England and with a strong cast.
Victoria Hopper   - Lucy Deane
Frank Lawton   - Philip Wakeham
Fay Compton   - Mrs Tulliver
Geraldine Fitzgerald   - Maggie Tulliver
Griffith Jones   - Stephen Guest
Mary Clare   - Mrs Moss
James Mason   - Tom Tulliver
Athene Seyler   - Mrs Pullet
Felix Aylmer    - Mr Warren
Sam Livesey   - Mrs Tulliver
Amy Veness   - Mrs Dean
Escape From Broadmoor (also known as Curse Of The Broadmoor Ghost (Thriller) - short. 1943. Director John Gilling
John Le Mesurier
Mind's Eye: Basil Dean An Autobiography. 1927-1972. Hutchinson & Co Ltd. 1973.
Film Making In 1930's Britain: Rachel Low. Allen and Unwin 1985.
Stan Wallace remembers his parents
His parents were Elizabeth and Nicholas (known as Cissie and Nick).
Cissie was the oldest of ten and more or less responsible for the nine siblings. As a young girl she worked at Carr's Pawnshop and at Miss Barnard's Drapers Shop on Ravensworth Road.
Nicholas's mother a widow remarried when he was fourteen. His stepfather did not want him in the home so he moved into lodgings.
Before he married Cissie he worked at Dunston pit, then joined the army and was sent to France but was sent home to work in the pit (it was the only bit of luck he had!). At that time Nicholas worked at Dunston Colliery. On losing his job at Dunston he went to work at Backworth Colliery.
They moved into rooms behind a Butcher Shop next to the Plough Pub in Killingworth Village. Unfortunately he was soon again out of work. When she wanted to visit her mother she had to push her two small sons in a pram to the Teams where her mother lived. Eventually they got a rented house in Clavering Avenue, Dunston where Derwent Tower now stands, but still no work.
In addition to all the mundane house chores, his mother did washing for other people.
Some of you will know what the "Means Test" was in those days. It meant you were given "dole" if you were not working.
One local man who was on this tribunal had the gall to call my father 'work-shy'. Nothing could be further from the truth! He cobbled boots and shoes, cut all our hair. I was never in a barber's shop until after I was married.
He had an allotment garden where he had hens and ducks and grew all of his own vegetables. My brother and I sold these from door to door in Dunston, getting a penny here and a half-penny there. It all helped!
He made beautiful furniture which is still in use to this day sixty years on. There was a treadle lathe in the bedroom where he turned the legs for tables and chairs. I can still smell the everlasting glue pot always on the boil on the gas stove. When it was dark nights, my brother and I helped father to carry planks of oak wood from Newcastle, along the 'Rabbit Banks' to Dunston. This was necessary in case anyone informed the dreaded ' Means Test'
Except for six weeks work labouring making the bowling green at the new Dunston Park, he was on the dole for thirteen years.
After this period of idleness he got on the short list for a dustman's job for Whickham Council. He was a short man and being desperate for a job, any job, I remember him standing in front of the mantelpiece after stuffing newspaper into his shoes to gain extra height because the minimum height for a bin-man was 5'3" and he was just under.
Imagine a short list for a bin-man's job.
He didn't get the job but the next time that it came up he got it. Whether joining the Labour Party had anything to do with it I don't know.
Later in his life I got him a job as a crane driver at J.W. Ellis, Swalwell.
Father died aged 82 and mother died aged 85. I have fond memories.
Photograph supplied by Audrey Simpson nee Wallace.
Bill Urwin's Memories of Dunston. (born 17th May 1916).
Bill now retired lives in Whickham, he remembers the early days when he lived in Dunston.
His parents lived in Davidson Street when they were first married. Bill was born in 1916 Davidson Street, and moved to Dunston Road (previously known as Asylum Lane) just before he started school. He lived just below Park Terrace which consisted of seven pairs of flats originally built for the workers at the Asylum. Dunston Road at that time was just a rough track.
He attended Dunston Church School from 1922 until 1934 when the school closed and he transfer red to the Hill School for his last two years. Whilst at the Church School, the head teacher died, and the whole school attended the funeral. The Reverend McIntosh took the service.
When he left school in 1936, as there were no jobs he was sent to ‘sign on’ and told to attend the “Dole School" with several others at Blaydon.
They received no ‘Dole Money’ but a voucher for the return bus fare from Dunston. They spent half a day being shown how to make bread tins with loose bottoms from sheet metal then spent three and a half days playing football because there was nothing else for them to do.
So back to looking for a job again!
He sometimes worked at Kennedy’s Market Garden which was on the site of the old asylum and was run by two brothers, George the businessman and Billy the gardener. The Kennedy’s lived in part of the old asylum, which at that time was lit by paraffin lamps. They used the pavilion, (which in asylum times was used as a dance hall for the inmates) for storage and bringing on plants. The pay was penny hapny per hour.
At other times he worked for Jack Havis who had a small dairy herd and paid twopence per day. If Billy Kennedy found out you had been working for Jack Havis he would not give you any more work. Jack and his sister Mabel, delivered milk daily by pony and trap, the milk being transported in large urns and measured out in gill, pint or quart measuring jugs into the customer’s own container.
He remembers :-
Morrison, the owner and manager of the Imperial Cinema known locally as the ‘Bottom Hall’. For more information see People and Cinemas sections.
The Albert Picture Palace known as the "top hall".
In the 1920’s Mr. Clark, the manager at the Staithes built the white house that is still on Dunston Road, it was modelled on the main building of the asylum and was near to the site of the asylum.
The two ferries across the Tyne that the workers used to get to the factory. See Transport section for more information.
In 1926 the miners digging for coal in the Banky fields and as a result of this a workable seam was found that became known as the Watergate Seam.
The dedication of the War Memorial on Remembrance Day when Dunston Brass Band and the Silver Band performed and the Scouts and Guides marched, there as well as civic dignitaries
Dunston Silver Band playing each Sunday night opposite the Hill School in summer.
The Dunston Silver Band was third one year at the Durham Festival.
Dunston Band had a banner and the name was spelt DUNSEL probably a miss-spelling of Dunseil the original name for Dunston.
Dunston Park was opened in 1930. The work to develop the park was carried out by men on the dole! Prior to the opening, people used to walk over the spare ground to get to Ravensworth Road.
When the Ambulance Station was built on Dunston Road,(where the present petrol station now stands), in 1939 because of the coming war.
During the Second World War there were wardens working as lookouts from the top of the Power Station using ordinary binoculars. They worked in shifts, two at a time, looking out for enemy planes. It was thought that Dunston riverside area and Vickers Armstrongs on the north bank of the Tyne were targets for the German planes.
Extra staff were taken on at the Power Station some came down from Scotland and some were European Refugees. Local people were encouraged to offer lodgings
At the end of each shift outside the Power Station children would wait to ask the men if they had any bait. This also happened outside Vickers Armstrong where the children there would shout- “sportingmanorbaitleft�?- obviously the bait for themselves and the Sporting Man for their unemployed dad! The sandwiches were almost always bread and jam.
During the war Bill was exempt from the forces because he was in a reserved occupation making tanks etc., and when ships were damaged and sent to Dartmouth for repair, he was one of a team sent from Newcastle to repair them.
He was on duty for St. John and helped, despite working 12 hour shifts at Vickers, to ferry wounded personnel from Newcastle Central Station to various hospitals in the area.
He also worked at Dunston Hill Hospital when able to.
Bill was employed at Vickers Armstrongs’ from 1932 until November 1980, when he retired. Four members of his family were employed there, three brothers and their father. They all served and gained their apprenticeships as Fitters and Turners.
He was a member of St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, for forty-seven and a half years. Being the longest serving member in the north, he received a certificate for long service from the Lord Lieutenant of the County to commemorate this. He already had a certificate for forty-five years service.
For the full story listen to it on our Audio CD
Maisie (born 1908) remembers. (Maisie lived in Dunston until 1954.)
Running messages for neighbours and receiving half a slice of jam and bread as a reward and being sent back to return the money and apologise, on the occasion she accepted a halfpenny!
Playing games in the street. Her favourites were Ring a ring a roses, cannon, hidey, skipping and knocky nine doors!
Going to the matinees at the Imperial and Albert Hall cinemas- entry was 1d or 2d.
Working as a telephonist at the Coke Works, then owned by Mr. Reichswald.
Earning 25/- a week ( a big wage for a women in the 1920s) which went to her mother who returned 5/- pocket money. (She lived at home until her marriage in 1937).
Saving 1/- a week to buy bedding, crockery, ornaments for her bottom drawer.
The many foreign ships coming into Dunston Staiths.
Tramcars the only transport.
Dr. Foster travelling to visit his patients on a bicycle.
Standing in the back yard in a queue in all weathers to see the doctor at the surgery.
Washing day! Getting up early to light a fire under the setpot, ladelling the boiling water into the poss-tub, then "bang, bang, bang" with the poss-stick.
Wearing artificial silk stockings and only once affording to buy a pure silk pair!
Her father working as a trimmer at the Staiths.
Maisie remembers a hard, but very happy life " We didn't have much but we had happy times, making our own pleasure".
"We were not ashamed of what we were, or what we had not".
"It's what you do that matters!"
Maisie Kay (Mary Jackson) born December 1908, interviewed January 2000.
A notable event in Dunston was the Hoppings, a fair which was held in June on a piece of waste ground adjoining Ravensworth Road, and for which the schools were granted two days holiday.
In addition to the fair-ground attractions there were many organised sporting events and amidst all the activities two local characters, Teddy Whipps and Joe Chucks, were much in evidence. Teddy had a wooden leg, which he was known to take off and use as an offensive weapon on occasions. Joe, a rather docile chap used to take part in an annual walking race around the village. He wore shorts and had his head shaved and painted like an Easter egg. He generally came in last, but considering his frequent stops for liquid refreshment this was not to be wondered at.
Bloom’s Travelling Auction.
The visit of Bloom’s travelling Auction was another popular annual event. Sales of household goods by Dutch auction conducted in a huge marquee erected on land adjoining the Albert Picture Palace, and most of the assistants were both salesmen and accomplished entertainers. Thus, by a judicious mixture of auction and variety show, the proprietor ensured that the marquee was always full. But by no means all of the occupants were potential customers, for this was free entertainment that the younger generation eagerly took advantage of.
We were indeed always on the lookout for free entertainment, for pocket money, particularly by modern standards, was very meagre, and in fact we frequently had to resort to the petty crime of flattening a farthing on the tram lines to produce a ‘ha’penny for the purchase of a communal football edition!
But they were happy days, which perhaps were enjoyed the more because we had to make, rather than buy, our amusements.
Dunston Christ Church 1938.
"Worrying all the first day at school (1935), about home time.
I had heard such tales of rough behaviour from the older boys toward the new starters. Approaching the street outside the gate I heard a boy shout, "Leave her alain she's a Campbell's lass". Word had apparently spread that dad, after my older sister's experiences, had taught his daughters to defend themselves!
Hating percussion lessons, the teacher always chose me to be either conductor or to play a large triangle. I didn't like everyone looking at me and I wanted to play the drums. This task always went to a boy!
Playing with my (second hand) doll's pram, using someone else's tennis racquet for hot rice as our family didn't have one.
Emulating, Sonja Henie, on one roller-skate! A pair was expensive. You could actually buy one skate, which could be altered to fit different size feet; this was then used by the three Campbell girls.
Playing in "The Bungalow". Living in a tiny flat and making all our clothes and some for others, my mother was desperate for space and peace and quiet. My parents heard that someone had a pigeon cree for sale. It was duly inspected, negotiated for, dismantled and re-erected in our backyard leaving just enough room to get to the outside toilet, coal house, the gate to the back lane and access to the back lane shelter. It was scrubbed and disinfected, then painted, wallpapered, carpeted, furnished and equipped with crockery etc., We had some wonderful times there (and ate meals carried out on a tray by mam).
Walking with my family, around the Urban District. Sometimes 6 or 7 miles in an evening!
Mary Williams remembers.
"At last, the day arrived for me to start school. I had my new sixpenny case, from Woolworths. In it, was an apple for playtime. I reminded my mother frequently that she was to tell the mistress I was wearing my new boots. At last it was our turn to enter the mistress's office where I constantly nudged my mother and indicated the boots. At last, she said "Mary has new boots especially for today". They were duly admired. Then I was taken into the "baby" class to start what turned out to be a very happy school life.
"In my early days at school I hated to get it wrong. (I am still the same).
On arrival at school one day, I was horrified to find I did not have a slate rag. (Writing and sums were written with chalk, on a slate and a rag was essential). The said rag had to be held up in one hand and your handkerchief in the other at prayers (now called assembly).
What to do? I dashed into the toilet and tore a square out of the front of my petticoat it was plain green cotton with a lace edging.
All went well at school but when I got home, it was a different matter. My mother was furious. The "slate rag" was washed, then, sewn in again. I had to wear it for months, presumably to teach me that clothes were expensive and had to be looked after, carefully.
How I hated that petticoat"
In times of hardship.
"In the early 1930s when food was short some children went hungry. We were very fortunate in that my grandfather had an allotment, father's friend had a market garden, a cousin had a butcher's shop where we could get marrow bones for broth, and an uncle who was a railway linesman on the Carlisle route did a spot of poaching in his lunch hour.
One day my brother and I noticed children asking workers from the new Power Station if they had any " bait" left, and were given a newspaper parcel, which, when opened, seemed to be sandwiches. We stationed ourselves in a strategic position, "asked" and received a parcel, which proved to contain a jam sandwich - not of interest to us at all. Next minute we both received a sharp smack on the bottom, and were frog-marched home, by a very irate grandmother. Who lectured us all the way on how fortunate we were in always having enough to eat without any need to beg in the street - no treats for us that day from grandmother."
Outdoor games were played in cycles-top and whip, marbles, skipping ropes, but when it came to kites my brothers and I were always sent up the road to ask Mr Clark to make us one with the instruction “don’t forget to ask nicely and�? DON’T FORGET TO SAY PLEASE.�?
We were always told to come back the next day and bring one string (saved from one old tattered kite).
The next kite was always ready- a cross made with two straight pieces of stick and part of the wooden hoop of a butter barrel was used to make a rounded top, the construction was carefully covered with newspaper skilfully glued on then a tail string with newspaper bows all the way down- wonderful Mr Clark would then send us over to the park to play fly it.
Sometimes he called us back and added some more tailing-perfect. Flying the kite usually kept us busy during the school holidays.
Tennis Courts in Dunston Park
There was a booth where you went to book a court or to pay for a session on the Bowling or Putting Green.
The courts were very well used in the forties and fifties by local people of all ages.
In between games of tennis, players, whilst waiting for another court to become vacant, would go onto the Putting green for a game of Putt (which was the nearest most would get to golf in those days) or play Bowls.
As there was no refreshments available in the park groups would often remove to "Harrisons", on Ravensworth Road for ice cream, lemonade and conversation!
Dunston Lawn Tennis Club
Dunston Tennis Club moved into its premises between Woodside and Monkridge Gardens in the early 1930's.
At the height of their popularity they had 2 men's teams and 1 ladies team in the Northumberland and Durham Inter Club League.
In the forties two notable junior members were Decia Stephenson and Sheila Whitfield.
There also had a Table Tennis Section which performed with some success.
In the eighties the premises became a residents association.
The Royal - Dunston
In 1968-1970's The Royal Dunston Darts Teams, both A and B Teams, distinguished themselves by winning the Whickham and District A and B League Championship simultaneously. It had been the first time in ten years this had been achieved. The Royal had fielded good darts teams for over twenty years at this time
The Royal Regulars setting off for their annual "Farthing Outing" in 1910. They saved a farthing a week for this event, hence the name of the outing.
The Cross Keys Public House - Dunston
The Cross Keys Public House, on Ravensworth Road has had and has see many changes over the years. The building is one of Dunstons finest building after its refurbishment in the late seventies.
The Name Cross Keys, was a common sight prior to the Reformation, being the emblem of St Peter. Later the sign had a significance when watchmen kept guard throughout the night on behalf of the community.
The Old Collingwood Hotel - Dunston
A very popular pub in the twenties when the Manager was Joe Batey, it was situated not far from the Royal Hotel. The pub and all the property around it were demolished in the thirties and forties. A block of flats now stands on the site.
The pub was rebuilt as The New Collingwood further up Dunston Road.
The Chancellor's Club - Dunston
This club stood on Ravensworth Road opposite The Cross Keys. For some reason it was known as The Cracker Club or just The Crackers. It was a favourite of the trimmers, who worked at the nearby Staiths. They could obtain a pint after coming off night shift at 6a.m. Unfortunately it fell foul of the law and lost its licence. During the Second World War, after standing empty for some time, it was vandalized by local children of all ages. The older ones gained entry by breaking windows and doors. The younger ones went in and stripped the walls of pieces of plaster to use as chalk for marking bays for playing various versions of hopscotch!!
Holmeside Hall Labour Social Club - Dunston
The inaugural meeting of shareholders of the Holmeside Hall Labour Social Club was held on the 9th March, 1954. Mr. L. Atkins was elected President, Mr. N. Rutherford, Secretary, Mr. J. Vickers, Vice President and Mr. T. Chicken, Treasurer. The Committee was also elected. At the first Committee Meeting held on the 17th March, 1954, a report was given on the proposed site. It was also agreed that ladies could become shareholders and they could elect their own Committee which would be able to submit recommendations to the main Committee. On the 21st March, 1954, it was decided that the Club be registered with the Industrial and Provident Society, and that Planning Permission be sought for the site. At a subsequent meeting the Builders were selected and the Club was open for business on the 22nd December, 1955. The official opening of the Club was on Saturday, 17th March, 1956, and the special guests included Mr. J. Buggle, Whickham U.D.C., Mr. R. Bowey, Chairman and Secretary, Federation Brewery, Mr. Baddiley, Mr. R. Woof, M.P. and Inspector Mitford of Whickham Police.
More recently the Club has spent £16,000 on improvements, and in addition to the games room, bar and large concert area, there is a most comfortable lounge. The Club attracts a wide cross-section of the community, having included in the past two M.Ps and two J.Ps, amongst other notable members. Another proud record of the Club is the award by the C.I.U. of Certificates of Merit to seven Committee Members for long service on the Committee.
It is with gratitude that the members of the Holmeside Hall Labour Social Club recall the few local men who laid the foundations of this respected Club, which goes on from strength to strength. Indeed it was a most remarkable achievement.
Dunston Social Club
The club was inaugurated in 1892 by several local men namely Dr Foster, Charles Nordman, Isaac Bewley, Arthur Brunswick, Albert Sweeney, John Reynolds and others. They soon acquired Number 151 Clavering Avenue, Dunston, which had previously been occupied by the Primitive Methodists, and in 1898 the "Clav" was born.
Until the First World War it remained a rather exclusive private club, but in 1920, after extensions and alterations had been carried out, affiliation to the C.I.U. took place. However the Committee found this did not have the anticipated effect and so the club once again became private.
On the 15th April 1969, the impressive new building on Ravensworth Road was opened, at a cost of approximately £80,000. The 1,500 members of this private club enjoy a very comfortable lounge, spacious bar and a large concert room; a great improvement on 1926 when membership was only 87 and liquidation became a strong possibility.
Over the 108 years that the club has been in existence many officials have given sterling service, none more so than Mr John Cope (Chairman) and Mr Robert Davison (Secretary).
Dunston House Mechanics Social Club
This historic club was founded on the 9th of October 1913 and has occupied its present premises for many years. Alterations and improvements have been made to the building which was originally owned by various well known families.
The club is known locally by the name "Abode of Love", although the founder's grandson, Tom Goulbourn, has told us that his grandfather always called it "The Abode I love". However, the Committee like to think that the name refers to the hospitality for which the club has always been renowned.
The club's records for 1930 reveal that rum cost 1/4d per bottle, liqueur whisky 12/- per bottle, beer 5/3d per gallon, matches 9d per dozen boxes, and twist tobacco 10/3d per lb.
Also astonishing is the fact that in 1971 membership fees were 5d per year. Members were entertained every other Thursday evening by top-line artists free of charge and also had the use of an extensive library! Senior Citizens were taken on trips and received £1, a miniature whisky, 2 pints of beer, lunch and tea and a wonderful outing. Entertainment is still free of charge on Friday evenings from 8pm onwards and on Saturday evenings there is a minimum charge of 50p.
The club has now been a part of Dunston's history for almost 90 years and goes from strength to strength, with many officials giving valuable service over many years.
Dunston Excelsior Social Club
The Dunston Excelsior Social Club's first premises were in an Athol Street house and the first general meeting took place there on April 28th, 1907, when Mr. D. Whing and Mr. W. Bourn were appointed Chairman and Secretary respectively. In 1910 the Excelsior Social Club moved to their present premises.
In those early years many poignant entries were made in their Minutes, e.g. "11th November, 1908. Carried that this Club send Mrs. Gallon 2/6d. weekly in response to her letter in the Chronicle to help the starving people in this village." Also "21st March, 1909. Carried we give £2.2.0. to the West Stanley disaster.
A few years after these Minutes were written the Club established an indoor rifle range and the Dunston Boys' Team using these facilities became English champions during the First World War. Tom Goulbourn's grandfather won on one occasion and Tom has a replica of the target.
Excelsior Club outing
Excelsior Club outing 2
Felling police and the Home Guard used the rifle range before its eventual closure in 1946. In 1940 the British Expeditionary Force were billeted in the Club concert room after their successful evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk. These gallant men were given a brief respite from hostilities and benefited from the wonderful hospitality at the Excelsior.
Over the years the Club has supported a number of interests including the Pigeon Club, the Whippet Club, two Darts' Teams and two Snooker Teams. Today members have to rely on dart-boards and snooker tables.
Many officials' name are written in the annals of the Dunston Excelsior Social Club's history, having given years of faithful service to the members.
The Excelsior has in recent years enjoyed the sort of fame normally associated with places like Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. Gazza certainly put Dunston and the Excelsior in particular on the international map.
Dunston British Legion
Dunston British Legion
committee post-war: 1950's.
Photo on wall is Joe Harvey,
captain of Newcastle United
with the F.A. Cup.
Front 2nd from right: William Ritchie.
Back far left: Jimmy Goulbourn
Back right and 2nd right:
Front row, 2nd from right
Centre front: Mr Wappat.
Third from left: Billy Dixon.
Far left: Mr Hawe.
Back far right: Billy Little.
Dunston British Legion Show 1948.
Billy Ritchie: Front right, Mrs Howitt:
Front left. Mrs Cooper.
back right. Mrs Massey: back left.
Dunston British Legion
Dunston British Legion
Armistice parade -women's
section Parade passing
Hexham Road Presbyterian
Mrs Hilda Ritchie
(partly hidden by
Mrs Massey at front left).
Left: Billy Ritchie,
Jessie Robinson, third from left, Principal Boy
Mr W Prince in evening dress
(had Plewes ships' chandlers).
Nelly Marshal, 5th from left
Mr Robeson 2nd from right
(father of lady 3rd from left)
The show was Sinbad the Sailor
Dunston British Legion Show
Mrs Ritchie 2nd right and
Mrs Cooper 2nd left.
Dunston British Legion parade
coming up Dunston Road
passing Gunn Street near
Four Lane Ends.
Mr D Ritchie, right,
black overcoat, 1950's.
Dunston British Legion parade
passing Dunston Hill School.
Dunston Brass Band at the
Cenotaph in November 1966.
In centre, William Ritchie,
president of the Dunston
British Legion at that time.
19th Dunston Christ Church Scout Troop
Colonel Surtees Own in Camp July 1912
The annual camp of the Christ Church, Dunston Scout Troop (Colonel Surtees Own) was a great success. The camp was pitched on a secluded spot in the grounds of Mainsforth Hall, the residence of Colonel Surtees.
In spite of poor weather the scouts managed to carry out their programme except for the cycle dispatch run. On the Sunday morning a drum head service was held on the hall lawn after which the Colonel presented each Scout with a photograph of Mainsforth Hall, the gifts being much prized by the boys.
On the Sunday evening Colonel Surtees took charge of a combined parade of the Dunston and Bishop Middleham troops, and they marched to Bishop Middleham Parish Church.
On Wednesday, which was a fine day, seventy friends from Dunston visited the camp at the invitation of the Officers. In the evening a campfire concert was held. At the camp was Patrol Leader Fred Scott, who had recently been awarded the Silver Wolf. This is the highest award a Scout can achieve.
Veterans recall Dunston "Dads' Army"
The Eleven Club
The strains of "Tipperary" and "Roses of Picardy" were familiar sound at The Mechanic's Club, then in later years at The Rowers Arms, in Dunston - at least on one night of the year.
For that was when the "Eleven Club" met to remember their colleagues who fought in the First World War and then reminisce about the Second World War.
Each of the eleven men wore a scarlet poppy and the medals he won in the various campaigns. The club was formed, by Jimmy Goulbourn, in the Dunston Mechanics' Club on Armistice Day 1918. The club met each year until the club faded in the seventies because of pressure of work and the deaths of the older members.
The objective was to perpetuate the memory of those men who died in the First World War.
Born in Dunston, he formed his own home guard, long before Second World War. When the Home Guard became official it was a common sight to see Jimmy, the butcher, and his trainees setting out on a route march, complete with a barrel of beer. They attended a rifle range and practised shooting.
The Chairman in 1966 was 71-year-old William Ritchie, a retired railwayman, who was also the chairman of the Dunston Branch of the British Legion.
At this time most of the members had served in the Second World War and some were the sons of the original eleven. They were:- Thomas, Gerald and James Goulbourn, grandsons of the founder James Goulbourn, his nephew Alec Eltringham, Charlie Challoner, a First and Second World War man; Bob Pyle, a first War man, Miles Morrison, Harry Charlton and William Ritchie the Chairman.
"As Armistice was declared at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we insisted that there must always be eleven members. In 1966 it was difficult as two could not get to the reunion, so two guests were invited."
As well as having their annual supper, the club was noted for the trips they organised. There was one on the last Sunday in May and one towards the end of August. Two guests were invited each trip. After a guest had been invited two or three times, he might be elected to membership of the exclusive Eleven when a vacancy occurred due the resignation or death of a member.
A Short History of Dunston Silver Band
Musical Director: Alan Seymour
Dunston Silver Band has been in existence since at least 1902 when the band was asked to play for the laying of a foundation stone at the Methodist Chapel in Dunston.
In 1913 the band performed at the Crystal Palace under the direction of Mr. Alf Gale of Dunston Bank.
During the Second World War, the band exchanged their uniforms for those of the Home Guard.
In the 1960s the band conducted several tours of Austria. Switzerland and Italy at a time when touring bands were still something of a novelty. A small book documenting one such tour was published (price sixpence).
The band fell on hard times in the 1980's and all but disappeared. However, in 1987 a dedicated group came together, determined to re-build the band.
In the early 1990's the band was sponsored by the Metro Centre and often played in the centre
Over the years, the band has maintained its local connections, particularly with the Methodist Community in Dunston and has received the support of Gateshead Council.
In 2002 the Federation Brewery sponsored the production of a CD, 'High Level Brass', named after their 'High Level' brown ale.
Also in 2002, the band won the 4th Section at the Cumbrian Contest in Whitehaven, the band's best contest result since best 4th Section/Unregistered band at the Ripon Contest in 1999
Dunston Silver Band Today
Dunston Silver Band is a registered contesting band which is currently in the 4th Section nationally and in Section D of the Durham County Brass Band Association. As well as contests, the band undertakes a busy programme of engagements of various types including evening concerts, parks, summer fetes and festivals and Beamish Museum.
The band also plays at the Durham Miners' Gala on the second Saturday in July every year, leading in the Leasingthorne Colliery Banner on behalf Leahome Club, near Bishop Auckland. This is something of a social occasion as well a band job and is a popular event with all bands swelling their numbers for the day with players from other bands which are not participating in the event.
The band has also gone to the Whit Friday contests around Saddleworth in recent years. This can attract players from other bands, as the day can be something of a social event.
The band runs a number of workshops with professional tutors throughout the year to help to improve the performance of the band and to provide interest and opportunity for individual players.
The band also remembers that all work and no play (or all play and no fun) can be dull, so a number of social events are held throughout the year.
See contact page for up-to-date information
Dunston Spiritualist Church
Dunston, Salvation Army Citadel
This was the former PM premises on Ravensworth Road which were sold to the Salvation Army around 1906. The Salvation Army Band was a common and welcome sight on Sundays and on Christmas Day, as were the members, who were regulars in the pubs distributing 'The War Cry'. The premises are now used by "Absolute Security Steelwork".
Dunston, St. Nicholas
Dunston, St Nicholas Parish was created in 1936 from part of Christ Church Parish, though the church was built a few years earlier. Money for the building was raised by Christ Church members. The present St. Nicholas was built in 1965.
Dunston, Christ Church
The Parish of Dunston, Christ Church was created in 1872 from part of Whickham Parish. In 1873 Lord Ravensworth laid the Foundation stone for the parish church; it was completed and opened in 1876. Christ Church was demolished due to subsidence in 1976 and the parish added to that of Dunston, St Nicholas.
Christ Church Parish Hall, erected in 1909, lasted until the 1980s and was used a number of time for church services. It was known locally as the Tin Mission because it was built of corrugated steel. The building was bought from St George's Church, Gateshead, for £30. It had to be dismantled, removed from St George's and erected at Dunston which all cost a further £90-10s-0d. The new foundations cost £12 and the fencing around the site cost £22-11s-6d. The building was re-roofed for £77 and gas fittings and plumbing cost £9-15s-10d. All the decorating was done by church workers. The total cost of the Parish Hall came to £300-11s-1d. The Tin Mission quickly became an integral part of village life.
The Board School log book records in 1909 state that there were 1007 pupils on the roll, 150 were housed in the Parish Hall. In 1914, Handley Carr Page, Bishop of Durham, licensed the Hall to serve as a church whilst renovations and extensions to Christ Church took place. In 1926 during the General Strike, hundreds of breakfasts and dinners were served in the Church Hall. A soup kitchen was set up to help the needy during those hard times.
Clergy at Christ Church
The Rev. John Jones was appointed the first Vicar of Dunston in 1872, but, as there was no proper church in Dunston at that time, the Rev. Jones worked from the Church Mission Room on Dunston Road. Although Rev. Jones had watched Lord Ravensworth lay the foundation stone of Christ Church in 1873 after marching with him, villagers and scholars, from the school to the site of the church on Wellington Road, he had to wait a couple of years before the New Church was completed.
On the 26th of April 1876 the Bishop of Durham officiated at the opening ceremony. Rev. John Jones was at Christ Church from 1872 until 1904. The Rev. J.W.D. Macintosh came to Christ Church in 1904 and stayed until 1921. He was instrumental in enlarging both the Church School and Christ Church itself. He was the Vicar who recognised that Dunston needed another church to serve the ever-increasing population of the village, and he would see the first St. Nicholas open in 1929 with his assistant the Rev. C.H. Beaglehole as priest-in- charge. Rev. Talbert 1938
The Rev E. W. Hunt was there in the late thirties until 1943. Rev. Hunt is remembered for his work with the youth of the parish. He established a very successful Youth Club. The Rev. Leslie Forster held the record for the longest serving Vicar in Dunston. He was there for over thirty years, from 1943 to 1974.
Dunston New Connexion/United Methodist Church
The first Methodist New Connexion chapel in Dunston was located near the old Parochial School and was opened on 2nd of December 1838. This was replaced in 1875 by a new stone-built chapel on Ravensworth Road, which seated 275.
A Lecture Room with classrooms for the Sunday School was added in 1898. Annual Sunday School trips, down the Tyne by boat started in the early 1900s. In the fifties they were still tripping, but by bus from the Lecture hall.
Ravensworth Road continued to serve the area until the end of the 20th century. It was demolished in 2001.
Dunston Wesleyan Methodist Church
The first Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Dunston was built before 1877 at Stokoe Square. It was replaced by a brick-built chapel on Hexham Road in May 1903. This chapel, which seated 300 worshippers, became Dunston Hill Methodist Church in 1963 (see above) and was rebuilt in 1980.
Dunston Primitive Methodist Church
The first Primitive Methodist chapel in Dunston was located in the "Great Square". Towards the end of the 19th century the congregation moved into new premises on Ravensworth Road, but these were too small to accommodate the growing congregation, so rooms were rented above a shop to house the Sunday School. In 1906, Wood Street Chapel which had been built six years earlier by the Independent Methodists, was purchased. It was of stone and seated 300. The old PM premises off Ravensworth Road were sold to the Salvation Army and later became the Dunston Training Workshops of Gateshead Church Enterprises.
Wood Street Chapel was enlarged in 1922 with the addition of a kitchen and two extra classrooms for the Sunday School. On 6th October 1963 Wood Street merged with the Hexham Road chapel to form Dunston Hill Methodist Church. Services were held at Hexham Road with Wood Street being used as a Youth Centre. This arrangement lasted until the Hexham Road chapel was replaced by a new all-purpose building on the same site in September 1980. Wood Street chapel was then demolished.
St Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church, Dunston
Before 1882 Roman Catholics in Dunston had to travel to St. Joseph's in Gateshead to hear mass, a distance of two miles or more. The Priest at St Joseph's, Father Matthews, tried to hold services nearer to Dunston by hiring first a room in Tynedale Terrace and then a hay loft in Bolam Street which served the dual purpose of school and church.
In 1882 plans were drawn up for a School which would open the same year. Lack of funds meant that the planned presbytery could not be built and the Priest continued to live in Tynedale Terrace until a house was taken in Brompton Place in 1884. In 1884 the present Presbytery was built for £764.00 making a total debt of £2410.00 for School and Presbytery, which was a very large sum for a relatively small congregation.
Owing to the siting of St Philip Neri many locals fail to notice the Presbytery, which is a spacious house with a pleasant 'hidden' garden between itself and the church.
The dual-purpose building served until 1905 when the temporary Church was built. This was followed in 1909 by an extension to the school building and the opening of the infant school as a separate department.
In 1934 after nearly thirty years, the present St Philip Neri replaced the 'Temporary' church building. In recent years, although plans have been discussed for a new church on a new site, it remains in the same place.
Women at War - Caroline Chilvers
I was called up in 1940 because my husband was in the army and I had no children.
I had to go to the Dole Office on the Windmill Hills for a medical examination first. I had always worked in hotels but now I had no choice, I was told to go to the Royal Ordnance Factory in Birtley. I was there for four and a half years. I lived in Back Athol Street, Dunston, and had to walk to Victoria Road for the special bus that was provided for us. There were a lot of women from Dunston working there and we all wore clogs so made quite a clatter walking along. There were three shifts, 6 am until 2 pm, 2 pm until 10pm, and 10pm until 6 am. I didn't know what daylight was like on some shifts. I was paid £3 a week and that was a lot of money in those days. I felt like a millionaire! There were only women in the shop and we had a couple of air raids while we were at work. We had a canteen for our breaks. It was hard graft! I was on a machine making shells that weighed 40lbs and we had to lift them. I am only 5 feet tall. I am 88 now so it didn't do me any harm. We were told to tell anyone who asked that we were making tins for food.
Margaret Campbell remembers the war years.
"At the beginning World War 2 most of my friends were evacuated to villages in Co. Durham. My parents decided that we would be evacuated together. My father stayed at home, I went with my mother and sisters to stay with relatives at Salters Gate between Castleside and Tow Law. It was a street of houses in the middle of the moors, almost two miles walk to the nearest bus stop. We have very happy memories of all the things we did there. In later years, we were surprised to find we had been there only two weeks. After a fortnight, my father had had enough of being on his own so we all went back to Dunston. On our return we found that air raid shelters were being built. We only used the shelter in the street once. After one air raid my parents and grandparents decided to strengthen the large cupboard under the stairs. We always referred to it as the gas cupboard because it had a gas meter in there."
"Stronger beams were added and a platform bed built under the sloping roof. The three of us could just fit in there. There was an armchair in there where my mother or grandmother could sit. My mother made us all siren suits; these were one-piece suits to wear over our pyjamas. If the air raid warning went during the night, under the stairs we went, wearing our siren suits, and there we stayed until the all clear sounded. We were supposed to go straight to sleep! I do not remember how well we slept. We liked being there. We had a tin box with treats in and if we were in any length of time we might get a piece of chocolate or a Horlicks tablet or something we wouldn't have got if we'd stayed in bed!"
"I remember playing in the street with my sisters and I think some friends. We were playing some sort of chasing game because of course there was no traffic so we could run quite safely across the cobbles. Suddenly we heard a plane and a machine gun firing. It was above our heads, bullets were bouncing along the street. Our mother was shrieking at us to get in the house. She was very annoyed with us because we had not come straight into the house. Our main interest was looking round to see if we could pick up some shrapnel from the bullets coming at us. This would have given us high rating in school the next day. We almost got a thick ear for that one.
The next exciting thing that happened was, when, in the middle of an air raid a warden came along the street warning everyone to get out quick. My father was out on duty that night. The whole street was evacuated because a bomb, an unexploded bomb, had landed in the backyard next door to my grand parents, which was next door to us. So out we went, no time to take anything with us. "
"They turfed us all out, there we all were standing in the cobbled street underneath the streetlight. The adults started getting their heads together deciding what to do. We were lucky that we had an aunt who lived in another street of terraced flats about 100 or 150 yards away. My grandmother and we three children headed in that direction. I think my mother was trying to find my father to let him know what was happening. She arrived with some neighbours who had no had relatives nearby. Those who had, had rushed off in various directions but there were those wondering what to do next. No one was saying well use the church hall or anything. My mother and aunt went back again to see who had nowhere to go. They brought more people back I am not quite sure how many people were in the house that night but there were certainly 30 or more. We were all crammed in a large kitchen, sat around the walls or on the floor. My mother and aunt made tea continuously. It seemed to last all night. I do not remember having any sleep. There were people who we had hardly even spoken to before. We were quite excited and thought great we won't have to go to school the next day but in fact it was afternoon school so we did go."
"We were thinking we'd have to go in our siren suits but a warden came across and told us we could go back in the houses. It was all a false alarm. It turned out to be a dud shell from Big Bertha, the big gun at the top of Lobley Hill. It had gone down the drain. They managed to get it out, so we could all return to our homes. We had to go to school after all.
My aunt had no bread or biscuits left and certainly no tea. Later that day everyone was back at my aunt's house giving her tea and biscuits and anything they had, to thank her.
"There was one more exciting thing that happened. I have very strong memories of the soldiers rescued from the beaches at Dunkirk. There were all these dirty, tired, weary, very dispirited and hungry men and not enough army camps to take them. They went to various places overnight and then further a field.
Someone came round the doors saying that the Dunston Board School was going to be re opened to accommodate soldiers from Dunkirk. They asked people to offer a bath and a hot meal to one or two soldiers. It was a lot to ask people to do in an area like that in those days. The housing in the area was what is now grandly called Tyneside flats. They had no bathrooms or inside toilets, it was quite a performance to have a bath your self, never mind offering a bath to strangers. There certainly was not much food around with all the rationing.
We all turned out and lined the sides of Wellington Road at the time of their expected arrival. We sisters stood in a row beside my father, jumping up and down, before the convoy arrived.
I can still remember how tired and weary the soldiers looked. I am sure they had not had much to eat since they left. They certainly had not had a wash. They were probably in the same clothes as when they had left the beaches. They really did look terrible."
"We were getting anxious. People were shouting, Hi, mate, you just come with me, but my father just stood there just looking whilst we were dancing up and down. I do not know who it was in the end. I think it was one of my sisters, who shouted. I do not think my father ever did. Two soldiers said they would be pleased to come to our home.
We had to stay outside and play while my mother organised baths for the two men who came with us. We did not see an awful lot of these soldiers. The next day the soldiers came to thank us and gave us a tin of bully beef. We discovered later that my father had been too busy looking at the men because he knew that it was very likely his brother, our Uncle Frank, would have been on the beaches of Dunkirk. He thought he might have been in one of those army lorries in that convoy.
The soldiers were from various regiments, many in fact from Australia. My sisters said they knew as soon as they saw their hats. I only remember their faces."
"My next strong recollection is that we did have a big street party when the war ended. Trestle tables were put along the cobbles, everyone in the street contributed what they could. We had to remove to the tin mission, (the local church hall) because it rained, nothing changes!"
Memories of September 1939 - June 1944 by Jack Dixon
"Seated one day at the organ,
I was weary and ill-at-ease,
My fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys."
(the words of a popular song of the early 1930's)
I can relate to the first line because that is what I was doing on Sunday 3rd September, 1939, at Ravensworth Road Methodist Chapel, Dunston. I was not weary or ill-at-ease but rather excited or maybe apprehensive? After the first hymn it was accepted that in a few moments we would be at war with Germany. I could not imagine what the future would be - the excitement maybe because of the unknown, and apprehension of how the war would affect me. Shortly after 11 a.m. the preacher closed the service with a prayer, and a few minutes later the air raid sirens sound. What a weird, frightening sound and a sound which still remains with me. I left the chapel and made my way home.
No buses, no people, complete eerie silence. Maybe people were afraid to come out, imagining the skies would be black with planes (as we had been told). They would have to be fast ones to be over Dunston so soon!! It proved to be a false alarm - the first of many. The evening service was held at Wood Street Methodist Chapel - again I was on the organ seat complete with cardboard box containing gas mask!
Listened to the 9 p.m. news on radio - the ATHENIA had been torpedoed and sunk with heavy loss of life - men, women and children. Now the meaning of war hit me and excitement left me. Days went by and the term 'phoney war' expressed the situation. British troops were in France but no action had taken place. Sirens were often sounded but mostly false alarms. Christmas came but festivities were very limited. Eventually the real war started. May 1940 - the German army swept through to the Channel ports. Miraculously, more than 300,000 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk. All equipment, arms etc were left behind, mostly destroyed. Great Britain now faced invasion - the phoney war was over. Factories went into full-time, and there was now a greater sense of urgency and determination. We had to face the fact that there was every possibility on invasion. I was now in the LDV (later to be famous as 'Dad's Army') and on patrol at nights if the sirens sounded. One night, or rather at 2 a.m. in the morning, whilst listening to 2 old soldiers telling of their experiences of WW1 (World War 1) and making my hair stand on end, a messenger arrived on a bicycle. "Report to Headquarters immediately - paratroopers have been sighted dropping nearby". Fear not, I was heavily armed with a cudgel!!?! What a farce! It transpired that a balloon had been broken from its moorings and passed through a searchlight
On now to Wednesday, July 3rd 1940. A plane had been droning around for some time and it was evident from the sound of the engines that it was a German - no sirens had been sounded. Left the office at 5 p.m. to cycle home and approaching the barrage balloon site the plane dived out of the clouds machine gunning the balloon. I could clearly see the Swastika markings. Terrified, I jumped off my bike and dived into the hedge. The plane flew towards the bridges over the Tyne and I saw a huge flash and clouds of smoke and dust. My first experience of seeing a bomb dropped. Many more were to follow in the next 12 months. When I got home my father handed me a buff envelope marked 'O.H.M.S. and I did not need to open it to know that it was my 'calling up papers' - "Report to Dingle Vale Schools".
Liverpool, Thursday July 11th. Mixed feelings. What would it be like leaving home? I knew the misery of homesickness from school camps and Boy Scout Camps. I had a good home life, good pals and a great interest in piano and organ playing. All this would be lost. The next few days were grim, the waiting and uncertainty were worst. Wednesday July 10th 10 p.m. dreading the farewells at the Central Station, Newcastle. Only in later years did I realise what it must have been like for my parents to see me disappearing over the bridge to Platform 9 then returning home and worse still, a few days later when the case containing my clothes arrived.
The journey to Liverpool seemed to be never ending as I had never been further than Saltburn! Duly arrived at Lime Street Station 8 a.m. Apart from Joe Thomson (Swalwell) I had palled up with Jack Stenhouse (Benwell). The three of us found a cafe, thick chipped tea mugs and bacon sandwiches! "How do we get to Dingle Vale School?" we asked the Chinese owner. "Tlam Clar (Chinese accent) with notice Aigburth on flont". For about two miles we rumbled and clattered our way, and there was the school. Documented and issued with clothing etc. then escorted to a classroom. "Sorry lads" said the Sgt. "No palliasses yet, you will get used to sleeping on the floor!." Night came but sleep did not. There were 30 of us and it was talk, talk and more talk, and lots of fun until the Orderly Officer came and ordered "SILENCE!" After three days we dispersed to various houses in the area (there were 300 soldiers in the Company). Beautiful stone built houses, the owners evidently well off, had moved to safer areas and the army took possession.
Joe, Jack and I were in a room on the third floor, (comfort now because we had palliasses). Every morning we were marched to the school which was about a mile away for breakfast followed by the inevitable Square Bashing. I was happy and enjoying a completely new life. Exercise, discipline and comradeship, and a feeling of pride. Walking out in the evening in your best battledress (even if it was not a perfect fit) shoulders back and saluting officers, great. One morning on parade the Officer in charge said that personnel were required to form headquarters staff to control the intake of 300 recruits every Thursday. Cooks, admin, quartermaster etc. were needed and if anyone was interested to step forward otherwise instead of volunteering you would be ordered. I was pushed forward by Joe, and the Officer assumed I was volunteering. "Report to QM Captain Gosling at 2 pm." So at 2 pm I was giving an account of what I had done in Civvy Street, and I ended up in the QM Stores Office. This was start of the worst period of my six years service. Good fellows to work with, Taffy, Smithy, Ray and Stan but the work was so futile and useless. We had ledgers to control the input of clothing etc and issues of same. If the stock remaining did not tally they were simply written off!
As the weeks went by air raids became almost nightly and heavier. Sitting in the Trocadero Cinema one Saturday evening (September 15th) and listening to the Wurlitzer Organist who, later was called up, joined our unit, and eventually played the organ for our wedding, when suddenly he stopped and a notice was flashed on the screen ALL SERVICE MEN REPORT TO THEIR UNITS IMMEDIATELY. No trouble getting lifts to the school where chaos reigned. Report to the armoury was the order. Issued with rifle and five rounds and marched in groups of ten to the banks of the Mersey. Word passed that invasion was imminent and two German battleships were at the mouth of the Mersey! We lay there all night and I'm sure everybody thought the same as me, what will a rifle and five bullets do to a battleship?! At 2 pm on Sunday we were stood down. Rumours were flying around and many weeks later it was disclosed that invasion barges had been sighted in the Channel but it was not clear whether it was an exercise or the real thing. I remember once standing on the landing stage waiting for the Ferry to New Brighton when suddenly there was the sound of a bomb dropping. The piercing whistle got louder and I felt it was going to land on my back. Instead all I got was a soaking. The bomb dropped in the water near the landing stage. That bomb evidently did not have my name on it.
May 5th 1940 was the start of a week of continuous bombing every night from 7 pm till 4 am for 6 nights. I was now billeted in 99 Colebrook Road with Taffy, Smithy, Ray and Stan which was an extra storeroom for Army clothing and blankets etc. This street was only 100 yards from a huge oil storage depot - 30 tanks in all. On May 7th two tanks received direct hits and night was turned into day. There was a direct hit on No. 104 but fortunately most of the inhabitants had cleared off to Sefton Park as they felt safer there. The noise of bombs and anti-aircraft fire was deafening. The sky over the city was red. I went into Liverpool on the Saturday - fires still burning on the dock side and ships sunk by the docks. Lewis's Store completely burned out, Bryant & May's factory burning and scores of people outside the Town Hall scanning the notices of names of the dead and unidentified. There was an air of sadness and despair.
The powers-that be decided that Liverpool was not a safe place and it took them 12 months to realise that, so we were moved to Pheasey Farm Estate, Great Barr, about five miles from Birmingham. This was a huge council house estate which had just been completed at the beginning of the war but commandeered by the Army. Leaving Liverpool was a wrench despite the bombing. It is a wonderful city and I have memories which will never fade. Some happy ones, some sad. I think of the little boy who used to play with us in the evenings. We did not see him for a while but when we did on crutches - he had lost a foot. I think of the brave firemen who night after night tackled the huge fires. I think of the times I walked up the hill to the Anglican Cathedral and sat there and prayed not only for myself but for all affected by bombing. Air raids are so terrifying as you can't see your enemy, you know he is up there but you are helpless.
JULY 1941 saw us settled into our new camp and this was to alter my career and also my life. I felt that I must get out of the boring job so I requested an interview with the QM who was also in charge of Transport. I took the bull by the horns as it were and asked for a transfer to the Transport staff. As luck would have it, there was a vacancy and so I became a driver. I was so happy driving cars and lorries of all sizes. One afternoon I was detailed to go to Great Barr station to pick up an ATS Corporal and thirty other ranks. On arrival at the station there they were, all very smart. Something about the corporal attracted me immediately - standing there so smart and lovely, not only physically, but something else which was hard to describe. Whatever it was I had no doubt whatsoever that some day, if she would have me, I wanted her to be my wife. Love at first sight - call it what you will. As we talked on the way back to camp I found that she was from Birmingham (but no Birmingham accent) and was to work in the QM stores. What a stroke of luck - it meant I would see her almost every day! I was so afraid to ask her for a date so asked my pal, Taffy, to do that. "Surely he can ask me himself" was the answer. So I plucked up courage and the reply was "Yes, I would like that". Remember she was a corporal and I was a driver so officially we were not allowed to hold hands but I think we broke the rules a few times! Clifton Cinema, Perry Bar, was our first date and beginning of a wonderful courtship. After a few months she(Jessie) was posted to Lichfield on an NCO's course. I missed her so much. Eric, one of the drivers (who eventually married one of the ATS and we kept in contact long after the war ended) came to the rescue. There was an old motor cycle without a pillion seat in the garage and Eric said he would take me to Lichfield one evening. I put my greatcoat on the back mudguard and away we went. I often think how did we have the nerve to do it - goodness knows what would have happened if we had been stopped by the Redcaps! Jessie was delighted and it wasn't long before she returned to camp - this time a Sergeant.
Our next move was to Oldham where we got engaged, and then three months at Heysham, near Morecambe After that it was on to Prestatyn which was formerly Pontins Holiday Camp. We planned to get married but Army regulations stated that a married couple could not be on the same camp.. If we had gone ahead we would have been separated, so we agreed that it was better to be together and hope that some day the stupid regulation would be cancelled. Out of the blue it was when a few months later the Commandant of the ATS paid a visit to the camp. Questions were invited from the NCO's so up got Sergeant Hobson and asked was it not better for a married couple to be together in time of war than separated. The Commandant claimed that she was not aware of this rule (likely story) but would look into it. A few weeks later the regulation was cancelled so we were able to go ahead with our plans. The date was set - Saturday, June 17th 1944 at Trinity Church, Prestatyn. A glorious sunny day and understandably, a nervous one. The start of another chapter in my life.
Memories of WW2
"The first memory I have of the war was when the proprietor of the local shop (Mr. L. Jarron) came down the street shouting that war had been declared. Everyone was standing at their doors."
"Concrete barricade blocks were built on certain roads. There was just enough space for one vehicle to pass through. Do you remember where these were?"
"One day while on the way to the hairdresser's in Back Row a plane came overhead and a man pushed me over a wall by Spoor's Chapel. The plane was a German one and it machine-gunned children playing in the schoolyard in Rye Hill."
"The night they bombed the Derwent instead of the Tyne the sky was lit like illuminations with flares and incendiary bombs."
Home Guard Certificate
"All the women of the pit streets used to hold Beetle drives (no Bingo then) to raise money for a victory party after England won the war."
"Air raid sirens were sounded after the Chamberlain broadcast on the wireless, which woke the baby."
"If bananas appeared in fruit shops there were big queues. Bartering food for goods and services was usual in the village. People grew their own vegetables. Patterson's nursery on Grange Lane was where the prisoners of war were put to work."
"A shell came across the park and landed in a lady's back yard. We thought it was German but it came from the big gun in Lobley Hill known as Big Bertha, The heavy Ack Ack battery sited on Fellside Road. Everyone was evacuated from their homes and came to our house."
"An army camp of the Kent's regiment was on Fellside Road and Larkspur."
"My father and others used to bring them (soldiers) home for supper and we even had their wives come to stay."
"I used to deliver the newspaper (to the army camp) every day and used to look forward to my huge mug of tea and a big jam sandwich."
"Holidays were spent at home. Bands played and we had dances. The army played football matches against Whickham in fancy dress."
June moved to the trading estate making filters for gas masks while other buildings were being adapted for producing shell cases. The pay was five pounds a week. The pay was increased when working on furnaces.
"Working on the furnaces was alright in winter."
Marley Hill Home Guard
"The Gibside Estate was used during the last war as a training ground for the Army and the Home Guard for grenade and Sten gun practise etc., the canteen being in the now derelict hall."
"My daughter was getting christened in church, another lady was a godfather short. So one of the young soldiers who had just arrived from France stood as a godfather for her."
"At a time of very heavy bombing in London, Cockney evacuees arrived on Tyneside. A group of children, mothers and grandmothers were billeted in the disused church school building in Dunston. My grandmother was in the WRVS. I went with her when she went to see how they were coping. I remember being fascinated by their Cockney accents."
"We did not go to school full time from 1940."
"There wasn't a lot of room so the Catholic school children and the Board school children would go in the morning one week and the Hill school children would go in the afternoon. The next week it was reversed."
"I was playing in the street with my sisters and some friends because of course there was no traffic. Suddenly and simultaneously we heard a plane and a machine-gun firing and realised in fact they were above our heads and the bullets were bouncing along the street and our mother was shrieking at us to get in the house.
Our main interest was in looking round to see if we could pick up some shrapnel."
"Someone came knocking round the doors saying that the Dunston Board school was going to be opened and soldiers from Dunkirk would be billeted there and could people manage to offer a bath and a hot meal to one or two soldiers."
Horrific Find at Dunston
Shortly after hostilities finished in World War 2, an armed merchant ship in the service of the Royal Navy was bought by ship breakers Clayton and Davie, during dismantling workmen discovered human bones behind emergency concrete repairs.
The ship, which had been in action, had had many casualties, and the emergency repairs which were necessary, concealed the presence of some dead sailors, who sailed in this floating hearse until found by the men at Dunston.
There had to be an inquest, then the bodies of the unidentified were buried in Garden House Cemetery, Swalwell.
Tom Goulbourn tells us that he was on board when the bodies were found and that his father Thomas Thompson Goulbourn was Foreman of the Jury at the Inquest.
A Son Killed in Each War
Ann Keen nee Scott Remembers
I know a great deal about Mr & Mrs Robert Scott's sons, even although one was killed twenty years before I was born and the other was killed when I was three years old. You see one was my Uncle Fred and the other was my Dad, Robert "Bob" Scott. My Granny, Margaret Humble Scott nee Elfert, kept their memories alive for me. In the days of large families my grandparents had only two sons.
Killed in Action WW1
Frederick Ernest who was born in 1894 was a great scouter. He was a member of the 19th Dunston Christ Church Boy Scouts and had the distinction of winning the Silver Wolf. This is the highest award a Scout can win and he was the first boy in the North of England to obtain this much-coveted honour. It was not until 1979 that anyone else in the Gateshead area was awarded this honour.
He served in the 1st (Northumberland) Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, in the First World War. He died on Thursday 24th October 1918 aged 24 and was buried with honour at Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France. [View Memorial on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.]
Killed in Action WW2
Robert Norman was born in 1903 and served in the Merchant Navy, rising to the rank of Chief Engineer. He died on Wednesday 13th November 1940 aged 37 and was buried with honour at Swalwell (Garden House) Cemetery, Co Durham. [View Memorial on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.]
I last saw my Father at Greenock, where his ship was in dry dock being fitted out against the magnetic mines laid by the Germans. His ship sailed for Falmouth where it was blown up by a different type of mine, which a German submarine had laid during the night.
My Granny hated the Germans. They killed both of her sons. The ironic part of this is that her Father, Christian Ernst Frederic Elfert, was a German who at the age of sixteen had run away to sea and ended up marrying Mary Francis Humble of North Shields.
Remembrance Sunday, Dunston
On Remembrance Sunday people would gather on Barry Street to begin the walk up Wellington Road and Dunston Road to the War Memorial. The Scouts, British Legion, and the St John's Ambulance Brigade used to march to the drum beat. On one occasion in the thirties there were seven drummers with just a glimpse of wreaths and banners behind the five buglers in the front row: In the late fifties Pipe Bands lead the way to the War Memorial with the British Legion Banners right behind them.
In 1936 the then vicar of St Nicholas asked if any motor car owners would collect men from the 'Pensions Hospital' Dunston Hill Hospital, to bring them to church on the 8th of November, this was to allow the old solders to Commemorate the death of their fellow servicemen who had been killed in the First World War.
Unveiling of Dunston War Memorial 1923
You will see from the date that some time had passed between the end of the war and the building of the memorial, a simple Celtic Cross. It took a while after the deprivation and horrors of the war before local committees could begin the fund raising necessary to finance memorials. The Celtic Cross was typical of the memorials built by smaller towns and villages.
The ceremony for Dunston war memorial, was conducted by the Reverend W .D. Macintosh (Vicar of Dunston from 1904 to 1933). He was probably responsible for the siting of the memorial as he had chosen the adjoining site for the first St. Nicholas Church that opened in 1929.
Dunston - Peace Sunday 1919
Dunston - Memories of World War One
"I remember the Zeppelins coming up the Tyne. You see the Germans used to work here in peacetime. They knew where the works were and how to cause damage so sent the Zeppelins but they got turned back."
"We learned to knit. I knitted socks and gloves. The boys knitted hats. We used to have a penny a week school collection to buy cigarettes for the soldiers. When the soldiers came home what a welcome they got."
Dunston - Whitegate Farm
In 1950 the statutory list of buildings of architectural or historic interest covering Whickham Urban District and issued by the Minister of Town and Country Planning, one Dunston building was listed.
This was the eighteenth century Whitegate Farm, known until the early twentieth century as Dunston Farm.
Whitegate Farm formed part of the Dunston Hill Estate purchased in 1704 by the Carrs from the Shafto family, who had owned it from the fifteen hundreds. In 1983, Holly Construction restored the farmhouse, into a two bed-roomed house and the attached cow byre into a single bedroom bungalow.
The supplementary list included Whickham Thorns, now completely renovated, The Lodge on Dunston Bank, still in sound condition, and an extra note from the Minister. This pointed out that Dunston Hill House including the stables and clock-tower would have been included had they not belonged to or been occupied by or on behalf of the Crown.
Dunston - Wallace House
Wallace House, sheltered accommodation for the elderly, is where Creeds Grocers used to be on Ravensworth Road.
Dunston - Denholme Lodge
Denholme Lodge, sheltered accommodation for the elderly, was built in 1989 on the site of Dunston Board School, Church Street. It consists of one-bedroom flats with a central lounge and a laundry. There is a warden on site. The Board School (originally an all age school then a primary school) was replaced by Dunston Riverside School.
Dunston - Derwent Tower
Derwent Tower, known locally as "The Rocket", was built in 1969 by Pittender A.I.G.H. on the site of Clavering Avenue and East Ravensworth Road. * It is 280 feet high, has 29 storeys and is the tallest building on Tyneside. It has 420 steps and two lifts.
The architect was Owen Luder, who also designed the notorious multi-storey car park in Gateshead. The design is unique in Britain. Only one other of this design was built in Europe.
There are 29 floors with a total of 196 flats and it is built in the shape of a cogwheel with five risers. Each riser has its own water supply contained in one of the five tanks situated in the glazed area between the tenth and eleventh floor. Most blocks have these on the roof. (but see comment below)
The base of the building was originally a 150 space car park. This is now used as storage for Gateshead Authority. Owing to the history of flooding from the The River Team (or Gut as it has always been known locally) the building is based on a sunken ring of concrete. This forms a further basement, which was designed to hold large pumps which are used when required.
The Tower has six flats on each floor, two-bedroomed flats to the tenth floor and one -bedroomed flats from the eleventh to twenty-ninth floors. It has spectacular views from the top floors.
The adjacent Maisonettes were once linked to "The Rocket". This walk way was removed when the flat roof was changed to the present design.
*Many of the residents of these streets were rehoused on the then new Meadow Lane Estate.
Streets of Dunston by Stan McRae
The history behind the street names of Dunston is very interesting and I am just going to delve into some. The streets around Dunston Hill Methodist Church are a good place to start. Did you know that the streets around the church are all named after the England cricket team of 1900?
William Gilbert Grace (1848-1915), one of the few cricketers who is still a household name- I would guess there are not many people who have not heard of W.G.,
'The Grand Old Man of Cricket' even though he has been dead for eighty-five years. By the time he died in 1915 he had played for England twenty two times, mostly as captain and dominated the game for most of his life .Few people know that he was an all round athlete in his younger days and ran one hundred yards in 10.8 seconds, jumped over five feet in the high jump, seventeen feet six inches in the long jump, was the fastest quarter miler in the country, and, for good measure, represented England at bowls. He was often guilty of gamesmanship and sometimes refused to leave the wicket, when he was clearly out, saying people had paid to see him bat, not the bowlers!
Major Edward George Wynyard D.S.O. was the finest batsman ever produced by the army and he played in three Test matches for England. His army career prevented him from leading England to Australia in 1909 and no doubt he would have played much more often if it had not been for his army commitments. He was a brilliant all round games player and was top of the first class batting averages on several occasions, and this in the time of Ranjitsinji, C.B.Fry, Hon.F.S.Jackson and A.C.McLaren, the golden age of amateur batsmen. Wynyard died at the age of 75 in 1936.
Arthur Shrewsbury, (1856-1903) was one of Nottingham and England's greatest batsmen. W.G.Grace, when picking England's team, always said, "First give me Arthur". He played in 23 Test matches and came to an unfortunate end by shooting himself because he imagined he was suffering from an incurable disease. He was only 47 years old.
Any cricketer can tell you that the most famous bat makers in England are Gunn and Moore. William Gunn (1858-1921) was the founder of this firm and played for England in 11 Test matches. He shared many great partnerships with his Nottinghamshire teammate Arthur Shrewsbury, mentioned above. He was well over six feet tall and one of the finest stylists among batsmen of his era and graced the first class cricket scene for over thirty years.
Henry Wood (1854-1919), a wicketkeeper batsman, played for Surrey and Kent and represented England in 4 Test matches, the first being against the Australians at the Oval in 1888. He was said to have been a fearless player. Even though his hands suffered horribly at times, he stood up to the very fastest bowlers of this era and never complained.
All the above streets were built around 1900 when these cricketers were household names. I know of no other streets, in this area, named after cricketers.
Going past the end of Gunn Street we come to Dunston Road which was formerly known as Asylum Lane, a much more interesting name.
The Asylum stood on the site of the White House and the garage (formerly the Fire Station) and was a large mansion called Dunston Lodge owned by the well-known Tyneside family called Marley. In 1828 there was a lengthy lawsuit when John Barnett, the Curate of Newcastle Cathedral, who had married Margaret Marley died. A relative of his, another John Barnett, was accused of forging a will leaving the Lodge to him. Barnett was aquitted but the court ruled that the will was a forgery and the Lodge passed to General Marley, a distant relative of the Marleys who had owned the Lodge. General Marley leased it to Mr.J.E.Wilkman who opened it as an asylum. The venture prospered and in 1841 there were 84 persons housed there, increasing to 157 ten years later. It was one of the most advanced asylums in England and visitors came there from all parts of the world. Its cure rate was well above the results of any other asylum in the country.
A Mr. Garbutt carried on with the asylum but it gradually declined as public hospitals took over health care and the Lodge was eventually demolished in the late 1920s.During the last war I remember, as a boy, working in Kennedy's market gardens that occupied part of the extensive grounds of Dunston Lodge. Billie Kennedy and his sister lived in an old house, which was part of the old estate. It may interest readers to know that the going rate for boy labourers was 4d per hour (less than 2p) and worked out at 2s 8d per day (14p)
At the bottom of Dunston Road there is a building that must be one of the oldest in Dunston. This is the old church school, which was erected in 1818, and now in a very dilapidated state.
Named after John Ruskin the English art critic and social reformer who died in 1900 aged 81. A Labour Council because of his political beliefs in social and economic reform would, understandably, name this street of Local Authority houses after Ruskin.
Probably named after Sir Ronald Ross, the noted English bacteriologist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the relationship between mosquitoes and malaria, leading to the virtual extinction of malaria in many parts of the world, by draining swamps, and so getting rid of mosquitoes.
Another notable English doctor, Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister (1827-1912), saved countless lives by his discovery and use of antiseptics during surgery.
The only Rendel I can find is George Rendel who was director of the Ordnance Works of Sir W.G.Armstrong Ltd. of Elswick. Lord Armstrong, the famous Victorian engineer, also had a street named after him that is now demolished and the Riverside Junior School now stands on this site. Stephenson Street, named after George Stephenson, the railway engineer, was also demolished to accommodate the new school.
We now come to a series of streets named after engineers and scientists who were famous when they were built around 1900.
Baker & Fowler Gardens
I have put these two streets together because they are named after Sir Benjamin Baker (1840-1907) and Sir John Fowler (1817-1898), Civil Engineers, who were involved in the construction of the first London underground railway line from Westminster to the City, now called the London District Line (1869). They also designed the Forth Railway Bridge.
William Thompson, 1st Baron Kelvin (1824-1907) was a Scottish scientist noted for his work on thermodynamics inventing the Kelvin temperature scale. He also pioneered undersea telegraphy. .
John Tyndal (1820-1893), in his early career, worked on the first Ordnance Survey of England and Ireland in 1842. He then went back to school and eventually became Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution. He did much work on the properties of sound and acoustics. In his leisure time he was a climber and made the first ascent of the Weisshorn in 1861.
Sir Charles Algernon Parsons (1854-1931), the third son of the Earl of Rosse (Irish), was an engineer and scientist who invented the steam turbine and founded C.A. Parsons Ltd. of Heaton in 1889.
In 1897 he created a sensation when his turbine driven experimental ship, aptly named 'The Turbinia', zigzagged in and out of the Grand Fleet at a speed of 32 knots at the naval review at Spithead. He subsequently was awarded orders for turbine driven naval ships. Parsons was also involved in the development of electricity generation by means of turbo-alternators, raising the voltage produced to 11000 volts in 1905 and 36000 volts in1928. Parsons turbines are to be found in all parts of the world and he has been called the most original engineer since James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine.
Nearby is Newton Street named after Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of the Law of Gravitation.
Named after Dr. F. W. Barry, who published a report to the Local Government Board on the General Sanitary Conditions of the Borough of Gateshead in 1884. This had far reaching effects on the public health of the surrounding district and ushered in the modern day disposal of sewerage and the supply of clean water to all dwellings in Gateshead.
Lord Ravensworth, the son of Sir Henry Liddell, created a Baronet in 1821, was the major landowner in the area. Ravensworth Castle was the family seat and I remember going to military tattoos there before the war. It was demolished just after the war.
This is one of the most interesting street names in Dunston. James Renforth was a famous rower and, believe it or not, Dunston was a household name among the rowing fraternity in the middle 1800s. Harry Clasper, who was born in Dunston in1812, was the foremost oarsman of his time and is buried in Whickham Churchyard. There is a fine statue on his grave looking over the Tyne, the scene of his former triumphs. James Renforth succeeded him as world champion sculler. He was born on the Rabbit Banks, Gateshead, in 1842 and was variously a blacksmith's striker, a soldier in the West Indies, and a keelman at Dunston. He won several medals as a swimmer before, at the age of 25, competing in his first professional skiff race against James Boyd on the Tyne for a £100 stake. In the next four years he won against all comers on the Tyne, Thames, Wear, Aire, Humber and Dee.
In 1870 he rowed in the International Fours Championships on the St. Lawrence River, Canada for £1000 prize money with other Tyneside idols, James Taylor, Thomas Winship and John Martin, winning easily. A year later he tried to repeat this feat for a £500 prize on the Kennebacassis River in Canada and collapsed when well in the lead. Renforth died two hours later at the early age of 29. His last words were 'What will they say in England?' His body was brought back for burial in Gateshead Cemetery. It was rumoured that drugs had played some part in his premature death, but this could not be proved. A crowd, said to have exceeded 100,000, attended his funeral and a tablet, carved to represent a broken oar, with his touching last words engraved on it, was placed in St. Mary's
James Clephan was the editor of The Gateshead Observer, the first Gateshead newspaper.
Sir Henry Keppel (1809-1904) was commander of the Mediterranean Fleet based at Gibraltar and finished his career as Commander-in-Chief, Devonport. He was an intimate friend of Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, and his wife was rumoured to be one of the King's many mistresses.
Ralph Carr-Ellison owned large areas of land in Dunston, Whickham, and Swalwell.
He lived in Dunston Hill, now occupied by Dunston Hill Hospital, which was a large country house surrounded by rolling countryside planted with specimen trees. Some of these trees still survive, notably the large beech tree at the top of Dunston Bank, and several magnificent horse chestnut trees, which have withstood the annual raids of young conker gatherers over the past century. Sir Ralph Carr-Ellison of Hedgely, the present descendant, is Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland.
Moore Avenue & Ede Avenue
These two streets were built in the early 1900s and were named after the Reverend William Moore-Ede, Rector of Gateshead (1881-1901), who advocated National Pensions and did great work to feed the poor by setting up soup kitchens in times of need. He was deeply loved by his parishioners.
St. Omers Road
This is one of the newer roads in Dunston and comprises Collingwood Terrace, Colliery Road, and Railway Street. It runs from the bottom of Ravensworth Road to join the old Power Station Road near the MetroCentre. Bishop Omer of Therouanne, who died in 670 AD, gave his name to a small area of marshy land at the mouth of the River Team (the Gut as it is commonly known) called St. Omers Haugh. This land was owned by the Hospital of the Virgin Mary, Newcastle and leased by Lord Ravensworth.
On the ordnance survey sheet of Dunston dated 1897 published by Alan Godfrey of 57-58 Spoor Street Dunston in 1981, is shown Baldwin Flat farm. It was between Knightside Gardens and the bottom of Redesdale Gardens and was run as a dairy by the Youens family up to about 1960. One of the girls who delivered milk round the Dunston area, in a small green van, was called Letty. The access to the dairy was at the bottom of Knightside Gardens just before the shops and it was called Baldwin Flats Dairy. Before World War 2 the bottom of Redesdale, Monkridge,and Knightside Gardens had not been built and there was a large field with a stream running through it that was a playground for local children.
The trees estate was built by the Whickham UDC in the 1920's and '30's probably by direct council labour.
Beech Drive was again Council Housing built in the 1950's by Whickham UDC.
Terraces were typical of housing in late 1800s and early 1900s.
Some pre 1900 terraces had been built on Ellison and Ravensworth Roads and Victoria, Athol and Seymour Streets. These tended to be simple and lacked the later refinements of bay windows, stone door surrounds and neat garden walls topped with metal railings. Most of these earlier terraces were built directly onto paths facing roads and only after 1900 did gardens become almost obligatory, no matter how small these might be.
Although the terraced houses varied in size the general layout tended to be standard. Two up, two down with kitchen and bathroom built in an offshoot tended to be the norm, with toilet and coalhouse at the bottom of the yard. Front rooms were for best, or for the unexpected visitor not afforded access to the back room where family and close friends gathered.
Not all of Dunston's terraces fitted this standard pattern. West View Terrace and Ravensworth Road showed examples of Tyneside flats whilst Spoor Street is a Tyneside rarity. These terraced cottages built from the late 1880s are a Wearside phenomenon found in vast numbers in Sunderland
Whickham Avenue and Clephan Street are examples of pedestrian terraces, a trend very much again in fashion. The Crescent must rank as Dunston's grandest terrace, our answer to Leazes Terrace in Newcastle.
Long may Dunston's terraces remain.
Dunston - Stokoe Square
There is a record of a Bethany Wesleyan Chapel in Stokoe Square from 1885 through until 1911 but we have no further information apart from these photographs which show "Residents of Stokoe Square on a rowing boat outing to Ryton Willows in the thirties." and "Lilly Veitch with Bobby the fishman in the Square in the thirties with Mrs Robson in the background." Perhaps someone can help us?
But see Comment below.
Dunston - Sadler Square
Sadler Square was named after the Boat Yard and Landing which existed in the 1700s. The houses were strictly functional - two up, two down - with toilets and water supply in the middle of the square.
The houses were demolished in the late fifties. The site was used as part of the new road system to relieve the pressure of Metro Centre traffic.
Dunston - Atkinson Square
Atkinson Square was flats and was not really a square. The Sowerby and Hedley families lived there in the 1920s. A Sowerby brother and sister married a Rutherford brother and sister from near-by Stokoe Square.
At the bottom of Atkinson Square was a pub called The Skiff and it was owned/managed by Mr and Mrs Buttery. When she died, her son and married daughter, Mrs Penman, took over the management of it.
Oliver's "Rambles in Northumberland" published in 1835 says "On the south of the river are the woods which surround Ravensworth Castle, with the beautiful slopes of Dunston and Whickham".
Prior to the late 1800s Dunston clung to the banks of the Tyne and only by the early 1900s had it reached the bottom of the bank bordering Ellison Road. The land to the south of Ellison Road remained farmland attached to Jack's Leazes and Mount Hooley farms.
The council housing which first started to climb the bank was built in the early 1930s and the street names Oak, Cypress, etc., gave the name to the Garden Estate.
The later 1930s saw the development of the private housing on and around Knightside Gardens, an early project by the northern builder, William Leech.
The expansion up the bank was stopped by the war and only re-commenced in the mid-fifties with the building of the Whickham Hill Estate. The last beautiful slopes went in the mid-sixties when the Mount Hooley Estate was built on the site of Mount Hooley Farm.
In 1925 a road was made to join Holmeside Avenue to Ellison Road. During the next ten years Holmeside Avenue was continued and Rochester, Horsley and Elsdon Gardens were built on the fields of Baldwin Flat farm.
Holmeside Avenue was known as Soap Works Avenue because so many C.W.S. Soap Works' employees lived there.
The decades from the twenties to the seventies saw the farm land behind Holmeside Avenue to Whickham Highway gradually disappear.
Dunston - Old Asylum
A Mr. J.E. Wilkinson established the Asylum in 1830 and Cornelius Garbutt took over in 1852. In 1865 his son William took control and remained at the helm until its closure in 1900. Dunston Asylum was considered to be one of the best in the country and had several influential inmates. Its recovery rate was well above the average and its peaceful and attractive setting must have been a great factor in its success.
Dunston Lodge was formerly held by the Marley family. It was an old mansion on Dunston Road. The estate of eighty five acres included a farm and gardens.
By the early 1920s the estate had become a market garden run by the Kennedy family. Only a small part of the house remained suitable for habitation.
An illustrated letter heading advertising the Asylum as, "For the recovery of the insane" which dates from Wilkinson's time shows the Lodge as an impressive house with a frontage of six bays and quite a stately door surround.
Together with Dunston Hill, Redheugh Hall and Farnacres it must have been one of the grand houses of this part of our area.
Dunston Lodge and a Petrol Station now stand on the site.
Dunston - Bute Hall
Bute Hall, home of the Blenkinsops in the early 1800s and home to the first gatherings of the Methodists in Dunston. From those meetings followed the opening of Dunston's first chapel in 1838 behind the parochial school on Dunston Road.
Dunston - Origin of Name
The name Dunston has been traced back to the fourteenth century and probably means 'hill-town' as 'dun' usually means 'hill' and 'ton' means 'town'. It is likely that the earliest settlements were near to Dunston Hill as areas nearer to the river would have been water-logged.