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Fred Gee of Gosforth

Fred Gee of Gosforth Empire Gas Generator Works and Gosforth Garage

We invite you to enjoy the story of Fred Gee of Gosforth

Gee is a surname that continually crops up during our research. In this guest post we share research from David Wardell. We were delighted when David responded to one of our posts and even more thrilled when he agreed to share his discoveries with us. David’s research is extensive and thorough it adds more detail and enhances our previous post, Gosforth Tramway Building. David is a long term resident of Gosforth.

Early Life in Yorkshire

Fred Gee was born in West Yorkshire at Barkisland on the outskirts of Halifax on 8 Nov 1872, the son of Joseph Gee, a farm labourer and his wife, Ann. He was baptised at Ripponden on 12 Jan 1873.

Fred’s father, Joseph Gee married Ann Whiteley at Elland, Yorkshire 19/9/1853. Fred’s paternal grandfather was Samuel Gee, a weaver and his maternal grandfather (Ann’s father) Thomas Whiteley, was a farmer.

Barkisland is a village in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is 1 mile east of Ripponden, 2 miles south of Sowerby Bridge and 4 miles south-west of Halifax town centre.

The census of 1881 records that Fred Gee is eight years old and present at his family home in Moor Fields, Ripponden, Joseph (his father) is now a farmer with 16 acres, and he is 54 years of age. At the recording of this census, a grandson named Webster Whiteley is staying with them. Benjamin Whiteley & family live next door.

Ten years later in the 1891 census Fred Gee aged 19, is still at his family home at Moorfield Ripponden and his recorded occupation is as an apprentice joiner b.Barkisland. Fred is still living with his parents Joseph (64, a farmer and Ann 56 years old). Joseph and Ann had four other children, Thomas 33, Maryann 26, Emma 21 and Whiteley 14 who were all born at Barkisland.

The Gees and the Whiteleys were very much related.

Calverly Gee Botanical Brewing Gosforth

This story of Fred Gee involves some of Fred’s wider family. They consisted of the Gee, Calverley, Whiteley, and Gledhill families and possibly others, from Halifax. Many members of these families came up to Newcastle to work with or for Fred Gee. 

In 1900 Fred married Agnes Wadsworth at Halifax, and around 1901 they moved to Gosforth, Newcastle where Fred set up the Calverley Gee Botanical Brewery in partnership with a relative from Ripponden, Walter Calverley. Walter was a joiner/cabinet maker.

In 1903/4 Fred bought out his partner Walter but continued to trade under the same name as Calverley and Gee. Walter continued to trade at North Shields as W. Calverley and Sons.

Harry Whiteley and George Gledhill (both were family) came up from Ripponden in Yorkshire to work for Fred (who was Harry’s uncle) and learn the botanical brewing trade. Subsequently, George Gledhill moved to Belfast to set up his own business, Connswater botanical brewers. 

6 Hawthorn Road Gosforth

The business appeared to have been profitable, and Fred moved into the carriage business as well, hiring out various types of horse-drawn carriages including a glass-sided hearse. He traded from 6 Hawthorn Road, Gosforth which was probably his office and kept his vehicles and botanical brewery at the rear of the high street.

At some point in time after 1911, Fred was possibly living at North Brunton Farm and was certainly stabling his horses there and probably some of his carriages as well. The disposal sale shown below shows stock for sale.

  • 14 strong, dark coloured harness horses
  • 12 excellent carriages inc. Landaus, Landaulettes, Broughams, Bussettes and Governess Cars
  • 12 sets of SM double and single harness.

Newcastle Journal 24 February 1914 Selling up his horse drawn stock and moving in to motor vehicles

Carriage Proprietor & Botanical Brewer

Fred Gee of Gosforth Botanical Brewers earthenware
Instagram @claireyl74 purchase from Tynemouth Market

By 1916 Fred was listed as a carriage proprietor & botanical Brewer at back High Street and 37, Hawthorn Road.

Fred Gee  North Brunton Farm , Gosforth  1925 telephone directory

Fred kept his horses at Brunton Farm probably living there as well from 1916 or thereabouts. He had a family history of farming, so was perhaps very at home there. He was a serial advertiser in the small ad’s columns in local newspapers for staff for brewery and horsemen and van roundsmen for deliveries as well as carriage drivers.

In the early 1920’s Fred decided to sell up the botanical brewing business. George Gledhill returned to Gosforth and bought the business renaming it as G. Gledhill Botanical Brewers. 

George Gledhill had retired as a mineral water manufacturer (on the 1939 register) at age 60. He died on 1 Apr 1943 at his home in Beaumont Terrace, Gosforth and was buried at St. Nicholas Parish Church, South Gosforth. 

Headstone for George and Sarah Gledhill St.Nicholas. South Gosforth Parish Church

Fred Gee’s sale of the mineral water and brewery business may have been so that he could concentrate and finance the motor business. Fred Gee made planning applications between 1911 and 1920 for changes to the garage and coach shed and created a petrol station at Back High Street, Gosforth.

The premises on Ivy Road were in operation by Dodds T. G. motor engineer & garage as shown in the telephone directory for 1915. The entrance was at no. 183 High Street, the original tram sheds entry, and in 2020 the access to a large gymnasium in the old tram sheds behind.  

This garage opened out onto Ivy Road and soon after became Empire Gas Generator Works & Gosforth Motor Garage – proprietor C.Cook.  

Gee Sykes and Cook

Come 1926 and until 1954 further applications were made by the combined company of Gee, Sykes and Cook for their garage in Ivy Road at the old Gosforth tramway shed. Fred had joined forces with Sykes and Cook, and their combined business was operating as The Brandling Garage, later this was to become the Gosforth Motor Company.

I also noted Robert Gee, a tea dealer at 137 High Street, Gosforth. (Related)? An R Gee is also listed at 139 High St. as a manager, presumably he’s living above the premises.

At a very much later date, this shop became King and Wood, Opticians.

Low Fell

Sometime before 1926  Fred appears to have moved to Brackenrigg, Church Road, Low Fell. A very large house can be seen from the photo below. By 1927 it was up for sale as Fred wanted something similar near his new garage on the Ravensdale Estate (Joicey Road) although Brackenrigg was not very distant from the garage in any case.

Fred also seems to have opened a further garage in Low Fell at Joicey Road as indicated by the advert below, here possibly selling off his surplus furnishings from Brackenrigg.

Newcastle Journal 28 March 1928. Sale of items from Fred Gee  Joicey Road Garage, Low Fell

Fred, Norman, and Walter Gee

The directory entry below for 1932 includes back Hawthorn Road as one of Gee, Sykes and Cook’s addresses. This indicates that Fred Gee was the Gee family member initially involved in the company. Fred’s nephew Walter Gee later became a proprietor/director of the company, and Fred’s son Norman Frederick Gee was also involved running James Park Garage in Low Fell.

1932 phone directory  Showing Gee Sykes & Cook at back Hawthorn Rd as well as at the Brandling Garage, Ivy Road Walter Gee at Bath Terrace and Gee’s Garage Joicey Rd., Low Fell

Fred’s son Norman met and married Margaret Stafford of Low Fell 1n 1939.

After Brackenrigg Fred moved to a house in Denewell Avenue, in Low Fell before moving to Lancaster Road, Morecambe when he retired, Fred Gee died in 1939 at Lancaster Road, Morecambe.

Newcastle Chronicle 29 July 1939

The garage at back Hawthorn Road became known as Hawthorn Garage and was run by Ted Potts as a taxi firm and later as Private lockup garages from 1930 to at least 1957. 

Walter Gee

Walter GEE was born Halifax in 1884 to Thomas Gee and Mary. Thomas was a cotton twiner from Halifax and was brother to Fred Gee, Walter was Fred’s nephew. 

By 1911 Thomas and family had moved to 30, Hyde Terrace, Gosforth and Thomas was working as a botanical brewer, most probably for Fred Gee. Walter aged 16 was a clerk also at the botanical brewery having joined the business as a junior.

By 1939 the year his uncle, Fred Gee died, Walter was very much involved in the company listed in the 1939 Register as a Garage Proprietor/Director/secretary (Ltd. Company).

Walter and Lydia Gee, Bath Terrace, Gosforth 1939 & daughter Kathleen M Gee b. 25 Jul 1933 Walter D.O.B. 17th Oct 1894

Garage Proprietor Director/secretary (Ltd. Company)

Walter Gee died aged 58 in December 1953. 

Further Thoughts

In 1975 – is the Gee Family still active locally maybe? Perhaps Gees Garage at Low Fell, Geoff Gee automobiles at Walker Rd., Walker

Research – copyright David Wardell

Photograph Empire Gas Generator Works and Gosforth Garage copyright Discovering Heritage

Discovering Heritage

Discovering Heritage are a team of historical researchers. We are always looking for guest posts for this blog. If you have any memories or research like David that you would like to share we would love to hear from you. We are currently focusing on Gosforth and Jesmond.

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