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Davison’s Chemist Shop

Discovering Heritage research photo Davison's Chemsits shop Newcastle Libraries

At the beginning of the year, we posted a poll on Facebook and asked our followers if they would like us to research Gosforth pubs or Gosforth shops. The results were 60% to 40% in favour of shops, so this is our local history post about Davison’s Chemist shop and other traders at 201 Gosforth High Street.

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Davison’s Chemist Shop

The first record we found of a shop at this address was in 1913. Although Gosforth High Street at this time had a well developed local commercial centre, there were a few odd plots of land still standing vacant. The second edition ordnance survey map of 1898 shows an empty plot at the end of the Tramway building towards Woodbine Road. The 1913 Godfery Map of Gosforth shows a new structure in this space. We found three businesses trading from this building between 1913 and 1980, Davison’s Pharmacy, Public Benefit Boot Company and Crawford Bakers.

Initially at 127 Gosforth High Street, Davison’s Pharmacy moved trading premises in 1913 to number 201, which was on the opposite corner to the church situated at the Woodbine Road and High Street junction. Mr Davison did not live above the shop but at 38 Salters Road moving to 4 Regent Villas Salters Road by 1919.

Discovering Heriutage photo of Davison's Chemist Shop Gosforth High Street News Advert.

An advert in the Evening Chronicle edition on 14 September 1940 reads:

APPRENTICE and Unqualified Assistant Wanted immediately.—Apply Davison (Chemist) Ltd.. High Street, Gosforth. vacancy occurs …, age about 40, … Service Organisation as Resident Inspector to control connection factories anti workshops; position not a sales proposition, but permanency, and the necessary trainingtbe given successful applicant; wage commencing £4 per week plus travelling expenses.—Write stating age and previous experience to Box 586.

We see Davison’s trading here for twelve years until 1925, and by 1927 the Public Benefit Boot Company have moved in.

Public Benefit Boot Company

Public Benefit Boot Company were well-known with a chain of footwear shops throughout the UK. Interestingly they were so successful that in an attempt to save the brand, during the late 1800s local newspapers published adverts alerting the public to the trend of market stalls and other competitors calling themselves by the same or very similar names. 

A detailed and fascinating look into the history of this company is available at the Public Benefit Boot Company website, where we found the Gosforth shop recorded under the biographical section.

Disocvering Heritage photo AD of Public Benefit Boot Company 201 Gosforth  High Street

In 1928 Davison’s Pharmacy is recorded at 197 Gosforth High Street, and in 1929 the footwear shop changed its name to Public Boot Company. Directories show a further two name changes in 1950 to Benefit Footwear Ltd. and Benefit Footwear Ltd. Boot and Shoe Dealers in 1953. The last mention we have is in 1962 after an astonishing continual thirty-three years of trading at this Gosforth address.

D S Crawford Bakers Ltd.

We wonder if many of you remember Crawford Bakers? Another big name from the past. Records show Crawford Bakers at this address from 1968 until 1980 (and possibly beyond as this is where our research finished). 

Crawford Bakers originated in a small outlet at 14, Leith Street, Edinburgh in 1856, where they baked ship’s biscuits. Three generations of the Crawford family worked in the business with shortbread becoming the most well known of their biscuits. The company was eventually taken over by United Biscuits which ceased operating between 1984 and 1987.

In 1996 a news article was published about the “Bread Wars” highlighting the plight of independent bakers in the face of supermarket marketing strategies.

Crawford fought bravely against the supermarket discounting practices. In July 1990 a management buy-out from United Biscuits gave Crawford’s back its independence. However, continued pressure from in-store bakeries and discounted prices saw Crawford Bakers eventually close its doors in 1996. 


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Our highly bespoke service highlights unique details of an individual property or area. Every building is different, every house has a story, and every area has a particular history. By combining original architectural detail with historical information our history searches provide a beneficial facility for all residential and corporate property marketing.

Jan Forster Estates Gosforth High Street. Discovering Heritage research photo

201 High Street Gosforth today.

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Frederick Dendy of Jesmond

Discovering Heritage research photo Frederick Dendy Author of An Account of Jesmond

In June 2019 we published a blog about Richard Welford, author of “A History of the Parish of Gosforth’. We are following this with some research that we have undertaken into the life of Frederick Dendy, author of the 1904 publication “An Account of Jesmond”.

Frontpeice of Frederick Dendy's book An Account of Jesmond
An Account of Jesmond

Jesmond History

Frederick Dendy was a keen local historian and published several papers based on his research, many of which were published by The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne. His history of Jesmond was described by his friend and contemporary Dr H.H.E. Craster as “…the best of his works and the model of what a manorial history should be …”.

Early Life

Frederick Dendy was not a native of Newcastle. He was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in 1849. Frederick was privately educated and was then articled to his cousin, William Holt, a coroner at Great Yarmouth.

Arrival in Newcastle

In 1875 Frederick came north to Newcastle to work as a solicitor. In 1878 he entered into a partnership with Robert Spence Watson, a Quaker and Liberal. In the same year, Frederick married his first wife, Jessie Baumgartner. In 1899 Frederick was appointed Registrar of the Newcastle upon Tyne County Court and District Registrar of the High Court of Justice.

Sadly, Jessie Dendy died in 1904. In 1910 Frederick married his second wife, Honor Brooksbank. The 1911 census records Frederick and Honor Dendy living with two live-in servants at their home, Eldon House in Jesmond. Eldon House was situated in the Acorn Road/Osborne Road area.

Frederick and his second wife went on to have two children – Walter (born 1918) and Mary (born 1921).

Public Offices

Frederick held a number of public offices. During World War One he was Vice-Chairman, of the Northumberland Appeal Tribunal (Newcastle branch). The tribunal heard cases of men who either for reasons relating to their employment, family circumstances, medical condition or personal beliefs wanted to avoid conscription.

Other offices held included:

  • Under-Sheriff of Newcastle upon Tyne (1883 & 1893);
  • President of the Newcastle Law Society (1894);
  • Chairman of Newcastle upon Tyne Liberal Club;
  • President of Newcastle Angling Club;
  • Vice-President of Newcastle Literary & Philosophical Society
  • President of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (1931 & 1932).

Jesmond Old Cemetery

Frederick Dendy died on 19 December 1940 aged 91. He was buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery.

Mr Frederick Walter Dendy, DCL, Vice-Chairman, Northumberland APPEAL TRIBUNAL (Newcastle branch)


House Historians

We would love to hear from you if you would like Discovering Heritage to help uncover the story of your house. Our researchers have a wealth of experience in this area. We have undertaken research for the Open University, Higham Hall Educational Trust, Newcastle University and the Ring Net Heritage Trust. Our House History Packs cover a range of research options from a basic house chronology to a detailed house history with resident profiles included. Full pack details are available HERE


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The House Historian

House Histories Front door the house historian

The job of the house historian is to research the history of houses. In most cases, the property would be someone’s home. House historians can research the history of any house or building. Learning about the people who lived in your home or worked in your building can be an intriguing pastime. Each property is attractive to us as house historians, ranging from a regular semi-detached house to a terrace or grand villa. Renovated buildings like churches and hotels often have a well-documented history, but the house historian can often add to the story by conducting deeper research.

Researching house histories has become a popular hobby. We have written case studies on some of our projects which will give you an idea of how we approach our fact-finding missions. Here we share some more information about available resources.

House History Resource Services

There is a comprehensive scope of free services available to you if you would like to conduct house history research. Services offered in local archives and libraries are often free. Some services provided by specialist websites may charge.

If your house is listed, check the National Heritage List for England. This site has details of every listed building. The list is a good to help with a date of construction and also with any distinguishable features about your property.

You will need to get an estimation of the age of your property. Various resources can help you with this.

Archives and Maps

1st edition OS map portion used to research house hoistories

Simply looking at your property may provide clues, note the design and building materials used. Members of your local community might have information that could help. Reading up on your local history may add a valuable insight. The Northumberland Archives search rooms are an excellent place to visit to view copies of old Ordnance Survey maps. There are different editions of O S maps also available online at National Library of Scotland and Old-Maps.co.uk

Do You Have The Deeds For Your House?

If the deeds to your house have survived, they will give you the most accurate historical information. You may have the deeds yourself, if not, it is worth approaching your solicitor, building society or bank. You may have an abstract of the title; this is a summary document that records the transactions on your property. If the deeds have not survived the abstract of title could give important clues to the history of your house.

Administrative Areas

Find out which administrative area your house is in. If you know the county, registration district and parish that your property is in this will help when you are looking through records.

To The Manor Born

If your house was part of a manor the Manorial Documents Register will give you information on which records survive. If your house records have survived this register can tell you where to access them.

House Residents and Lists

Searches of census returns between 1841 and 1911 will help establish who lived in your house. Commercial subscriptions are available at Ancestry and Find My Past. Your local records office or library will often provide access to these sites free of charge.

Row of directories used in house history research

Digital copies of the 1911 England and Wales Register are also available on these sites. This list is a useful tool for discovering who lived in specific properties.

Lists of voters are recorded in Electoral Registers. Registers for Newcastle are available online through Ancestry. Northumberland registers are accessible through Northumberland Archives.

House History Research

We would love to hear from you if you would like Discovering Heritage to help uncover the story of your house. Our researchers have a wealth of experience in this area. We have undertaken research for the Open University, Higham Hall Educational Trust, Newcastle University and the Ring Net Heritage Trust. Our House History Packs cover a range of research options from a basic house chronology to a detailed house history with resident profiles included.

Can’t Be Bothered?

Well if it all seems a step too far we have your back. You can hire us and we will do it for you! We have a whole range of archival products waiting for your arrival at The Little Histories Shop.

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