Phyllis Tulip (nee Duningham)
was born at the farm in 1925. She recalls that cattle were kept on the fields which were on the hill going down to Swalwell, behind what is now Spoor's Chapel. The cattle were taken from the farmyard into the slaughter house behind the adjoining butcher's shop (Turnbull's). Phyllis's childhood friend, Della Knott, (nee Gibbons) can remember going into the dairy at Glebe Farm to buy milk.
Front Street was little more than a cart track, motor vehicles being a rare sight. Phyllis and Della remember harvest time, when the hay was transported from the fields on Hay Bogies (flat wagons) pulled by horses. A pike of hay was hoisted onto the wagon by a chain, then was taken along Front Street to the farm to be made into stacks to provide winter fodder for the live stock. The two girls were allowed to ride on the back of the bogie in the place of honour, with several other local children running alongside trying to join them.
"Discussing the price of potatoes in 1984, £2.50 for four stone, took me back down memory lane to the years 1919-23 when we had a week's holiday in the Autumn to help farmers to gather in their harvest.
All the local village farms such as Glebe, Grange, Windy-Hill, Wood-House, Southfields, Marshall-Lands, (all of which are now demolished), were first to recruit their temporary labour force. Those children who were left including me and wanting work, had to go to Riding Barns, at Fellside which was a long walk for an 8 o'clock start. We did not know what a tractor or a trailer was. We carried our own buckets, no plastic ones in those days; we also carried our own bait and a tea mash.
Old Ned's wage bill for approx 20 pickers would be around £1 a day.
Sometime later he would travel the village with horse and cart, selling and delivering potatoes 4/- a cwt 2/- for 4 stone.
Spud Bashing was not the preparation of mashing potatoes for the Sunday Dinner; but the cold, wet, back-breaking work of picking potatoes for the local farmer. I did it once in 1963 for the princely sum of 10 shillings a week. It was the worst job I had ever done in my life and was glad when the week was over!
Every morning, at 7.00 armed with enamel buckets and a couple of jam sandwiches. We would be taken up the Lonnen to one of the potato fields on Smith's farm where we spent all day bent over collecting the potatoes churned up by whatever the appliance was called which did the job. Half an hour for a jam sandwich and a cup of tea and we were back at it until 5.30 in the evening. The 10 bob was spent at the Blaydon Pavilion at the end of the week and I realised the true meaning of slave labour. Apparently, and incredibly, similar work still exists in the UK!!!
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Whickham - Farming
The following farms, Glebe, Grange, Windy Hill, Wood House, Southfields, Marshall Lands and Riding Barns were still there in the thirties. Over the years they were often called by the incumbent farmers' names. Through the century most of the farms and their fields have been swallowed up by housing developments.
Whickham Front Street is today a bustling shopping centre and there is little sign of the farm that once stood at the heart of the village. Glebe Farm was demolished in 1960 and has given its name to a small housing estate adjacent to Whickham Front Street. What is now Glebe Avenue was the track leading into the farm. Part of the old farm wall remains.
Dunston Hill farm
West Farm also known as Dunston Hill Farm or Dunston West Farm is to be found on Whickham Highway and was originally part of Dunston Hill Estate. According to Kelly's Trade Directory of 1906, Thomas Easey was the farmer. Grant aid was available for its restoration. It is currently owned by Mr. Hood and is run as Livery Stables.
Betty Oloman remembers Easey's Farm.
Betty's father who was originally from the Hobson came to Whickham to work as a Farm Manager on Easey's Farm. The whole family had to help out, and were expected to work on the farm as farm work was then and still is now, a seven days a week activity. When Betty got older she used to drive the milk cart delivering milk in bottles, door to door on a regular round.
With her farming experience, Betty was able to provide a home for Billy when he returned from the war; apparently Betty being the daughter of a farmer and used to hard work and working with animals she was offered the position of Dairy Maid, with a cottage to live in, if she could milk several cows per day. Betty gladly accepted the challenge and the cottage. The house
they lived in 'Windy Hill' is no longer there, in point of fact, it was demolished to make room for the new road now called 'The Broadway".
Swalwell - Farming
South West Farm
South West Farm lost some of its land to housing in the 1970s, but is still a working farm.
Some of the tenants at the beginning of the twentieth century were Snaithes, Osbournes then Herdmans. This is the site of the Metro Centre.
Mill Farm was the home of George and Hannah Oxley. The farm had previously been the home of my great grandparents George and Elizabeth Oxley. My own mother moved to Mill Farm in 1911. The farm had a large apple orchard.
The family also had a haulage business. For many years they were under contract to Whickham Council because until about 1957 the Council did not fully own their own transport.
My grandfather received a great deal of work from the Paper Mills in Swalwell. He transported the paper to Newcastle sometimes at 2 am in order to catch a boat taking coal to London. Their schedules were dictated by the tides! They also had the contract for snow clearing. In the late twenties my grandfather nearly lost a horse on Fellside Road because of deep snow. He did lose a horse in a pit fall near to Swalwell Church.
When snow came, the police or perhaps a telephone call would sometimes come in the middle of the night. Then my Uncle George had to get the lorries and men ready to pull the snowploughs. Whickham of course was so open in those days that the snow often drifted and caused problems.
Part of the site of the farm is covered by the car scrap heap which is on Mill Lane leading to the Metro Centre from the B&Q roundabout. The farmhouse can still be seen beside the scrap heap!
By Sheila Carver
Sunniside - Farming
Streetgate - Farming
East Farm is in the process of being developed by John Moody as an Executive Housing Estate.
Streetgate Farm. The farm covered 110 acres but 7 acres were lost to industry when Watergate Colliery was built. It seems that prior to the First World War there was a clause in the farm tenancy agreement that a certain amount of corn had to be grown to provide pheasants from the estate woodlands with food and shelter.
Errington Swan (1893-1967) regularly took battens of straw by horse and cart to the Teams Glassworks in the 1920s, the straw being used for packing. During hay making time, he set off about 6 in the morning to take refreshment to his father James Errington Swan, (he was the farmer at Ouselaw in the 1890s), working in an outlying field cutting hay (with a scythe) since early dawn. Errington then returned to the farmhouse for his own breakfast before making his way to school. The farm produced 8-10 ricks of oats and wheat and in the 1940s Thompson of Lanchester and Parky Bates of Iveston, came with their machines to thresh the corn. About 9 people were needed for the operation and local farmers helped each other out. In the late 1940s the farm had 15 dairy cows and Bobby Swan was one of the last of the local farmers to go around with a horse drawn milk float.
The float, which carried the drum, had a step up at the rear. Customers came out with a jug and Bobby filled it by pouring from a measure. The farmhouse was renovated in 1991 and the byres, stables and poultry houses removed to make way for residential development (Streetgate Park).
Taking home the hay
at Swan's farm.
Streetgate Nursery. The nursery at Cheviot View was started by Alf Douglas, in 1940, who formerly had worked at Marley Hill Colliery but was brought up at the Lingyfine Garden. Ivy Cottages stood where the glasshouses are now. There were 4 cottages in the short row in 1858 but by the late 1930's only 2 were left. In the 1920's the Chambers family lived here and kept a few goats. Mr Chambers was almost blind and carried a basket round the neighbourhood selling tea, biscuits and yeast in connection with the Braille Association. His brother was a piano tuner. Mrs Evelyn Hall has run Cheviot Nurseries since.
Marley Hill - Farming
The fields of Longfield Farm Marley Hill are used for grazing.
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.
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.