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Gosforth Tramway Building

A look Back at Gosforth High Street

Taken outside the Gosforth Tramway building this photograph shows the G Sykes and Cook garage c1930s. The garage was one of a number of businesses that traded from the old tramway stables on Gosforth High Street.

The Tramway Service

The tramway service came after the Gosforth omnibus started by Mark Frater. In this post we look at this building between the years of 1884 to 1973. The tramway stables was one of the longest buildings on Gosforth High Street running from Ivy Road almost to Woodbine Road.

Gosforth Tramways

The Newcastle Upon Tyne Corporation Tramways opened 5th December 1878 at this time the trams were horse drawn. In 1885 the operator name changed to the Newcastle Tramway Company. This was a company formed by Daniel Busby and William Turton to run the tram services. By 1888 the company had changed its name again to become the Newcastle and Gosforth Tramway and Carriage Company, with William Turton listed as the director. (Note the names of Busby & Turton appear on the plans).

Plans for new tramway stables for Gosforth.

Plans were submitted to GUDC by Busby and Turton in 1884 for the building of new tramway stables in Gosforth. They included 3 rows of stalls enough room for 116 horses, between which ran the car shed. There were also two manure stores, a harness room, a sawdust room, a smithy, 2 loose boxes (one of which later became Barclays Bank) and a car pit. The last horse drawn tram service was on 13th April 1901.

Plans for Gosforth tramway stables showing Smithy, loose boxes, and car shed.
Proposed plan for Gosforth tramway stables.

Charles Merz of Gosforth

By 16th December 1901 the first electric tram service was underway, the route was 51.27 miles long. The Tyneside Tramways and Tramroads Company was chaired by John Theodore Merz who was also a director of the Swan Electric Light Company. As a point of further interest Charles Hesterman Merz was the eldest son of John Merz. Charles Merz lived in the house that today stands at no 54 Gosforth High Street and was originally shown on maps as Gosforth Villas. Charles Merz became well known for his involvement in the electrification of the railways in the early 1900s. In 1899 he set up a consultancy firm and from 1902 worked with William McLellan. The company became known as Merz and McLellan. The electric tram service ran for 49 years and closed on 4th March 1950.

Blue Disc commemorating Charles Merz and William McLellan
Commemorative blue plaque outside 54 Gosforth High Street.

Gee Sykes & Cook Ltd of Gosforth

The first reference we have come across to this premises being used as a garage in the trade directories is in 1925 when G Cook Motor Garage is listed as trading on Ivy Road. The fact that this is 25 years before the eventual closure of the Newcastle and Gosforth Tramways Co. suggests that parts of the building may have been rented out while the Gosforth trams were still in use.

Old Gosforth photograph of Gee Sykes & Cook ltd. Trading from the tramway stables building on Gosforth High Street.
Gee Sykes & Cook Ltd Gosforth High Street Photo credit Evelyn Stark

The photograph shows an image of Gee Sykes and Cook garage situated on the corner of Ivy Road and Gosforth High Street. Although the second line is illegible we can make out the wording Gee Sykes & Cook Ltd on the sign at the top of the building, followed by Gosforth then Automobile Engineers & Agents, Coach Painters, Open Always.

We have been able to date this photo to after 1937 by looking through the building plans register. After starting as F Gee, we see later plans presented in 1926, by Gee and Sykes Garage and then in 1937 plans were submitted by F Gee Sykes and Cook for alterations/extension to the office for Brandling Garage, Ivy Road. The table below records various planning alterations applied for between 1911 and 1954.

F GeeCoach Shed13/9/1911
F GeePetrol Station Back High Street8/7/1914
F GeeGarage Alterations7/1/1920
Gee & Sykes GarageUnderground petrol tank28/7/1926
Sykes & Cook2 garages inside old Tramway Shed3/7/1929
F Gee Sykes & CookBrandling Garage Ivy Road offices and ext to office1/9/1937
Gee & CookPetrol pump1953
Gosforth MotorsNew side entrance Ivy Road29/4/1954

The sign on the inside wall of the garage appears to be advertising garage services and is partly legible

Taxis [available}

For Private [Hire]

Repairs Complete[d] …

Agents for [priv]ate [hi]re

& Commercial [Vehicles]

The words Brandling Garage appear above a smaller sign for Tyre Services.

Next door the dark blinds are partially pulled down over the upper bay window and the words Barclays Bank Limited can just be made out on the lower window and outer signage.

Advert for Gee Sykes & Cook Garage taken from a Gosforth and Coxlodge trade directory.
Gee Sykes & Cooke advert in the Gosforth and Coxlodge trade directory

By 1954 the name of Gee Sykes & Cook Ltd disappears from the trade directories and the Gosforth Motor Company takes up residence on Ivy Road. We can follow this company at this address until 1973. A later listing records Gosforth Motor Company as car and caravette hire off Hawthorn Road.

What followed the Gosforth Motor Company? We think we can remember Liptons and Kwiksave. We would love to hear what you remember!

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The words Newcastle -upon -Tyne can be seen around the top arched window.
Changes are underway once more. Junction of Ivy Road and Gosforth High Street May 2019
View of the Tramay building today on Gosforth High street

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What Is Heritage & Why Is It Important?

Trinity Church Gosforth

What Is Heritage?

Heritage can be anything that a person, family, business or community values enough to protect it for the future.

Why Is Heritage Important?

Heritage is important because it gives us a sense of singular and communal identity.

Attractive Historical Environment

An attractive historical environment can bring together consumers and businesses. Heritage can prove a potent factor in the attraction of new business as well as being a serious factor in maintaining existing businesses.

Our heritage comes not only from the aspect of our buildings but also from the characters and events within the whole community. Recognising our heritage value allows us to develop our community.

Photo Frederick Coney Gosforth Fire Brigade
Superintendent Fire Chief Coney Gosforth resident (clickable photo)
Robert Whitfiled Falconer Gosforth resident
Robert Witfierld Falconer Gosforth resident (clickable photo)

A heritage environment is, therefore, an important element in the generation of new businesses and community development. Heritage value provides added interest for investors as well as an anchor to help maintain existing businesses.

The old Gosforth Assembly Rooms on Gosforth High Street.
Old Gosforth Assembly Rooms (clickable photo)

A Sense Of Continuity

Understanding the early development of villages and towns provides us with a sense of continuity. We live with the past all around us;  the way we interact with our local buildings, parks, and streets, builds a distinct local culture. When we combine this with an understanding of our local heritage, we can recognise a sense of identity.

Reuse Of Old Buildings

Adaptive reuse of buildings for both living and work spaces has a favourable effect, fresh thinking and different ideas help new initiatives. Education, regeneration, housing and economic growth all benefit from heritage association. Therefore recognition of our local heritage is also beneficial for our communities.

West Avenue Gosforth
West Avenue 2019
Old photo of Gosforth
West Avenue

How Do Communities Benefit From Heritage?

Heritage can provide the opportunity for members of the community whatever their age and academic background to learn new transferrable skills

Heritage can bring communities together to celebrate elements of their past.

Heritage projects can embrace cross-generational working providing an opportunity for people with different life experiences to work together.  

This is why we love heritage!

At Discovering Heritage we aim to enhance community heritage by researching the histories of lives, houses and businesses of not only celebrated local buildings and characters but also of lessor known historical aspects in our communities. We believe research of this nature is an important element in bringing together communities. Celebrating local heritage in this way helps to unite local businesses and consumers whilst attracting fresh investment and ideas to local areas. It can help regenerate and re establish our high streets and local amenities. Through research, we can build and identify with a colourful account of our local history.

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Dr Gibb Of Sandyford Park

Dt Gibb Discovering Heritage

Dr. Gibb is immortalised in lines of the famous Geordie song ‘Blaydon Races’:

Some went to the dispensary
And some to Doctor Gibbses
And some to the infirmary
To mend their broken ribses

Dr Charles John Gibb was born in Newcastle in 1824, son of Joseph Gibb, a surgeon, who practised in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle for about forty years. After completing his school education Charles Gibb was apprenticed to Mr. Common, resident surgeon at Gateshead Dispensary. He completed his apprenticeship at Newcastle Infirmary. Dr. Gibb then furthered his studies at medical schools in Edinburgh, London, Vienna and Paris. He then returned to Newcastle to take up the post of house surgeon at Newcastle Infirmary, then at Forth Banks. He then went into private practice as well as lecturing at Newcastle School of Medicine and Surgery, then part of Durham University.

Dr. Gibb lived at 52-54 Westgate Road, Newcastle, from about 1861. The property now known as Gibb Chambers is marked by a black plaque. By 1891 Dr. Gibb and his family had moved to Sandyford Park, Jesmond. The property originally known as Villa Real was designed by architect John Dobson. It was re-named Sandyford Hall, later Park, by Dr. Gibb. The house today forms part of the buildings used by Newcastle School For Girls.

Black Plaque at Gibb Chambers Newcastle

Discovering Heritage mission – to discover, share and re-tell stories that enhance peoples association with their houses and communities through recognition of the history.

We have come across an interesting entry in local records which attends to the moral character of Charles Gibb. On November 16th 1871 the Directors of the North Eastern Railway compensated Dr Gibb 100 guineas. Dr Gibb had sustained an injury in a railway collision at Brockley Whins. Charles Gibb donated the money equally between 10 local institutions including Deaf and Dumb, Industrious Blind, Idiots and Imebeciles and the National Lifeboat Institution.

In our possession we have a number of photographs relating to the Gibb family and Sandyford Park. The first is a photograph of Frances, wife of Dr. Gibb. Charles Gibb married Frances Elizabeth Gilbert Galaher in 1866. The couple went on to have four children. This image thought to have been taken in the 1890s shows Mrs. Gibb in formal dress. Her dress, fan and jewellery all reflect the status of the family.

Dr Gibb of Sandyford Park. Photo of wife Elizabeth - Discovering Heritage
Francis Gibb c1890

The status of the family was also reflected in the size of their household. This photograph, again believed to have been taken in the 1890s, shows the household staff. The 1891 census records a lady’s companion, a nurse, a cook, two housemaids and a page living with the family. Living in adjacent properties were three gardening staff and a coachman.  

Dr Gibb of Sandford House Staff. Discovering Heritage
Dr Gibb’s staff

The third of the photographs is an internal view of the Sandyford Park property. The room is decorated in high Victorian style as befitted a family of means and status.

Dr Gibb of Sandyford Park dining room. Discovering Heritage
Dr Gibb’s House

This is a real treasure of a post. Photographs that have survived from the 1800s are few and far between. The Gibb photographs give us a tantalising glimpse into the life of this well respected and eminent physician.

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We thought it appropriate to end as we began with a reference to the Blaydon Races Geordie anthem. We have chosen this particular video because it commemorates another well respected and much loved Newcastle man, Sir Bobby Robson. This year is the 10th anniversary of Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

We enjoyed watching this video we hope you do too!

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