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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21 thoughts on “Fred Gee of Gosforth

  1. Pamela Row Crewe says:

    A very interesting article about the Gee’s . I was brought up in Gosforth, christened at South Gosforth church, went to Dame Allan’s and my parents retired to Moor Court. I have done a fair bit of family history – an ancestor manufactured Ginger beer in Low Friar Street, Newcastle. I knew a Gee when living in Stafford: his daughter is Jenny Gully who I was friendly with. Pamela Row (now Crewe)

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    1. David Wardell says:

      Interesting to hear from you Pamela and glad you enjoyed the post. I too was christened at St.Nicholas Church and also married there.

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      1. Pamela Row Crewe says:

        Nice to make contact. I’m a hereditary Freeman in the Joiner’s company. Visit Newcastle about three times a year for meetings etc, but now in lockdown. Interesting you have a connection with the same church. There is a window in there dedicated to my Uncle, who I never met, who died in the first world war. Do you still live in Gosforth?

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        1. David Wardell says:

          Hi Pamela,
          Yes it is always nice to make these contacts. I still live in the centre of Gosforth on the High Street. About 100yds from the house where I was born. (Home birth) . My great Uncle was a master carver but I don’t think he was a member of the Joiners Company. He reputedly did some carving in the Cathedral but I have yet to find any evidence of this. I suspect it may have been in the RC Cathedral opposite the station. I suspect the window you mention is this one but the name is spelt with an E not a W .

          SOUTH NAVE AISLE, 2ndWINDOW FROM THE EAST
          A wide single light showing the story of the Good Samaritan, with the various characters who appear in the parable (St Luke 10;30-37).
          Beneath the picture are the words GO AND DO THOU LIKEWISE.
          An inscription records that the window was given by the parents of William Burnett Roe, 2ndLieut. 1/5 West Yorks Regiment, who was killed in battle at Meteren in April 1918.

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          1. Pamela Row Crewe says:

            Well! Isn’t that strange? I have been fairly recently, either 2018 or 2019, and seen the window dedicated by his parents to 2nd lieutenant William Burnett Row at St Nicholas parish church!! ‘Row’ was the family name: I was called that before I got married and still use it for my paintings: ‘Pamela Row Crewe’. I was brought up with his story. I have several photos of him. I don’t think he was killed at Mitteran. I was told something different about his death. There are several members of the family also buried at St Nicholas and there is also an upright stone, which I have taken a photo of, commemorating his death. I think that the window at the catholic church is wrong, with an unlikely story. Probably written recently by someone who does not know the true facts. I hate that history becomes garbled with time and the spelling even of the name is inaccurate! I have a lot of items which I could show you if I ever get time to look them out!

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            1. David Wardell says:

              Hi Pamela
              Looks like a transcription error for the name. I have done a little research and he definitely appears to have died at Meteren. I have a document with several interesting items about WB including his roll of honour and details of the whereabouts of his war grave etc. and would be happy to send it to you. If you drop me a note of your e mail to davidwardell2@btinternet.com I will send it on.
              David

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              1. Pamela Row Crewe says:

                Thank you for your email. I think I have all details thank you for William Burnett ROW whose parents Mary and Henry arranged for the original window to be placed in South Gosforth Parish church. It was very bowed and needed some attention, but I assume the church received money from the recent commemorations of the first world war, because the next time I went to see it, it had been repaired along with two others for a different family. I am surprised that no-one contacted me before this conflicting news was published, because I hold all known facts on William Burnett Row as far as I know. He was my father’s brother and my Uncle. Mary Row, his mother died in 1939. I have added online research to the family details on him and probably have the same details as you. I have his roll of honour and the whereabouts of his war grave. I am in the process of contacting another family member who also has a lot of information and artefacts on Bernie’s life and has been to France to visit the grave. It will probably take some time to get a reply. I don’t think they have been contacted either. I would have thought that family is the first port of call before computer records. Where did you get the research details from? The window in St Mary’s cathedral is a mystery as all the family is CoE and not roman catholic. I have been there too as well as St Nicolas cathedral and the St Nicolas in South Gosforth. I could give a lot more detail if I had more time. I hope we can clear up this mystery!

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                1. David Wardell says:

                  Hi Pamela,
                  I have forwarded you what I have on WB . It sounds as though you may have this already. I tnink you may have mis-read what I wrote about the RC Cathedral which was to do with the carvings by my great Uncle. The description of the Window details was actually for St.Nich’s . I’m sorry if I mislead you here. Most of my info comes from several family history research sites and/or the internet generally.

                  David

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                  1. Pamela Crewe says:

                    Thank you so much David. I think I did misunderstand your entry and the reason I acted so strongly was because it has been on my conscience for a long time to write up the notes I have collected over the years and spread them about in digestible fashion. Trouble is, I have not found the time yet! I know most people are mostly interested in their own surname and its history and there are so many research sources on the internet now that make it easy to assume facts that could be unchanged for ever. Glad to make your acquaintance.

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  2. A Pritchard says:

    As a Gosforth girl who lived on Hedley St very close to Gledhills pop factory, I find all your posts very interesting. Thank you Fiona and David

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David Wardell says:

      Thank you for your interest and comments Amanda. My research was originally just for my own interest but it is very rewarding to see all the wider interests coming in as well. I remember Gledhills but not the factory……must investigate. The only Pop factory I recall well was Tyneside Direct Supplies at the back of Ilford Road. I well remember going there after playing in the Valley. The made their own ice lollies using the pop syrups and charged only a 1d

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  3. Fiona Malkin says:

    What a lovely thread! Its amazing to see how the Gee family has spread all over the world. Your comments have brought the Gee story right up to date. I particularly enjoyed the memory Richard shares about the old Delage and earthenware bottles in the back of the garage. Thank you all for taking the time to comment here, it has really brought this story to life.

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    1. David Wardell says:

      Thank you for your interest and comments Richard as well as the e mailed photo of Joicey Road. Certainly didn’t expect comments from around the world. The Gees are well spread out. I will forward you a link to the full story in due course.

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  4. Richard Gee says:

    Hi David. Richard Gee here. Great grandson and grandson of Norman, son of David. You are correct in linking the Low Fell Garage with the family. It was called Gees Garage and was on Joycey Road? About five years ago I was back in the UK and made a point of going and having a look and Gees Garage was still written on the wall of the building. I spent many Saturday afternoons there before my grandpa Norman passed away and the garage went into my fathers hands. There were several mechanics and I can remember a hot coal fire in an old oil barrel in the garage which everyone used to huddle around in winter. The cars were always cars locally that needed repair and were 1960s and 1970s vintage if I recall. There were some lock ups in the back of the garage and I do recall seeing some of the earthenware in there, along with old newspapers and a very old car called a Delage which would have dated back to the early era when Fred first got into selling and fixing cars. The recession of the early 1980s forced my dad to call time on the business but interestingly, I now live in New Zealand and we also hire out equipment and have run our own businesses since 1996 . The passion for cars remains very strong on this side of the family. I got it from my grandpa Norman and my dad and ended up actually racing cars. My son, Wilson, is also a car fanatic. We loved reading your blog and seeing the pictures. Thank you so much. My sister Julia above went to Dame Allens and I ended up at the Royal Grammar School.My mum and dad are still alive and the family, moved to Rowlands Gill in 1971 or 1972 I think and they are still there. Julia lives in Cardiff and I live in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, Interestingly I also meet a lot of Gees down here and met one who has relatives from the North East of England so I have often wondered if we were in some way connected. Thanks again, what a great thing to read in such frenetic times.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Julia Gee says:

    Thankyou this was really interesting. Just to say that Norman Gee was my Grandad, he was married to Peggy. His son, my dad, David Fred Gee is still alive and living in the North East. I remember going to the garage that was run by Norman and then by my dad in Low Fell when I was a little girl. All the best Julia

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fred Whiteley says:

    Thank you for publishing this very well researched article. It’s rather sureal to accidentally come across the story of my family in print. Just to add some detail, Fred Gee was born at Withens farm, Barkisland, the family home of his grandparents Thomas and Mary Whiteley. The Benjamin Whiteley living next door at Moorfields was married to Fred’s oldest sister Hannah ( my great grandparents). The Webster Whiteley living with the Gees was the eldest son of Benjamin and Hannah and the brother of my grandad Harry who as you say came to work for Fred at Gosforth.
    If I can help with any further information please feel free to ask.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David Wardell says:

      Thank you for that response Fred and your comments within. I have now added that bit of information to my masterfile. Should you want a copy of my original file I would be happy to send you a link if you send me your e mail. You can contact me directly at davidwardell2@btinternet.com

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