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Punshon Newsagent

Old photo of Gosforth High Street showing T punshon Newsagent

Those of us who grew up in Gosforth during the ’70s may remember the newsagent T Punshon Ltd. The shop was situated at 207 High Street opposite the Royalty Cinema and the old Gosforth Fire Station. After a Saturday daytime viewing at the cinema, hoards of children used to rush into Punshon to buy sweets. They were marshalled into the shop (in small groups) by long time and much-loved shop assistant Betty Grigg. Betty may be remembered for her cheerful disposition and always wearing her black hair in a bun.

At that time the owner of the shop was Mr Harland. Mr Harland bought the newsagent business around 1962 from a man called Bill Busby. By the time he retired Mr Harland had owned 4 Newsagents in Gosforth. T Punshon Ltd at 207 and 84 Gosforth High Street, Potts Newsagent at 147 Salters Road and Gosforth Shopping Centre at 1 Henry Street.

So why were these shops not called Harland after their owner?

T Punshon Newsagent advert
T Punshon advert Chronicle November 1969

T Punshon

We discovered that owing to the excellent reputation of T. Punshon newsagent, upon his purchase of the business, Mr Harland decided to keep the original trading name.  The shop at 84 High Street also became known as T Punshon whilst the other two Gosforth shops kept their original names.

Who Was Mr Punshon the Gosforth Newsagent with the excellent reputation?

Thomas Punshon

Research found a record of Thomas Punshon in the 1911 census. Here his occupation is recorded as a wholesale newsagent. He is 58 years of age and living in Fenham. Living with him are his wife ( Margaret) and four children. (John, Jessie, Eliza and Donald).

Thomas Punshon 1911 census
Thomas Punshon entry 1911 census

As we follow Thomas through the early 1900s, we discover that by 1919 the Trade Directories record T Punshon newsagent trading from 207 High Street in Gosforth. However, plans for a new lavatory and WC submitted a year earlier suggest that Thomas was trading from 207 High Street in 1918.  At this point, Thomas lived in Harley Terrace Gosforth aged as 66. Thomas moved house twice more, to 61 Rothwell Road and then to 9 Rothwell Road.

Gosforth High Street In 1922

The 1922 Trade Directories suggest that Gosforth High Street supported a thriving business community. There were two other newsagents, no less than 11 confectioners including Tilley & Co Ltd. two tobacconists and Moods Stationers at no 153. There were two fishmongers including Lilburn, two milners, J Farnon Drapers at 52 and a Cycle Maker at number 61.  The Post Office was at 109 and the Telephone Exchange at no 81.

Thomas Punshon Later Years

Thomas and Margaret had another son. Thomas James  Punshon was born in 1886. Sadly Margaret Punshon died in 1928. She left her youngest son recorded as incapacitated and her husband Thomas living at 9 Rothwell Road.`                         

T Punshon England and Wales Register
9 Rothwell Road

As we follow Thomas’s life into his later years, we learn that at the age of 77  he re-married. In 1930 Thomas married Mary Trewhitt. The 1939 England and Wales register records T Punshon as a retired newsagent living at 9 Rothwell road with Mary carrying out unpaid domestic duties living with one son who was incapacitated.

Searching the births marriages and death notices in the local paper archives we found that Thomas Pushon died on 8 February 1940. One year later almost to the day on 18 February 1941 his son Thomas James also died. This left Mary living alone at 9 Rothwell road. She was 65 years old. Thomas senior’s effects were £8,055 6s 2d. Mary Punshon continued to live at this address until just before her death in 1960 she was 83 years old.

Mr Victor Harland

By the time he retired Mr Harland had sold all the shops individually. The shop at 207 High Street is now the Gosforth Flame, 84 High Street is Adrianos Dei, 147 Salters Road is now Canny Crafty and the Gosforth Shopping Centre at 1 Henry Street is Alpha Male Grooming. Research of planning applications show between 1964-65 considerable alterations were made to the premises. A new sign was added in 1964 followed by a change of use of the flat above the shop to a store room plus alterations to the back shop. This may have been for extra security due to the high value of cigarette and tobacco stock. The shop front was also altered from the traditional store front to the aluminium frontage still in situ today.

Old photo of Gosforth High Street showing T Punshon Newsagaent
Photograph of Gosforth High Street. T Punshon Newsagent can just be made out next to Gosforth Hotel. The shop still has the traditional shop front so it is dated pre 1964 (Photo retrieved from Newcastle Libraries)
Old photo of Gosforth High Street showing T punshon Newsagent
Gosforth High Street. T Punshon Newsagent can just be made out next to Gosforth Hotel. It has the new frontage so it is dated after 1964 (Photograph retrieved from Newcastle Libraries)


During the 1980s the shops (in particular 1 Henry Street) were targeted by “ram raiders”. The raiders drove their vehicles through the plate glass windows into the shop and cleared the cigarette display gantries. These crimes took minutes to commit with the offenders getting away with thousands of pounds worth of merchandise. The response to these crimes was to install metal shutters mostly of which are also still in situ today.

Victor Michael Harland was passionate about small businesses and became a Director of Bridewell on 15 Oct 1991. Bridewell was a buying consortium specialising in the supply of confectionery, tobacco, and newsagents sundries. He retired 1 July 2000 ©Discovering Heritage.

Discovering Heritage are a team of specialist historical researchers with expertise in researching local and residential history.

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Who Was Round Your Street?

Who was round your street

Who was round your street? In the 50’s and 60’s there were many different traders and callers who would regularly visit our streets. We are delighted to welcome David Wardell’s latest series of guest posts reminiscing about who came round our streets!

The Coal Man

As a young boy I particularly remember the coalman coming with all his sacks of coal stacked upright on a flat loader lorry. He would arrive at your back door and the coal would be emptied sack by sack through the coal hole, a small door in the rear wall of the property. The coal hole was about 18 inches square at shoulder height, and opened out in to the coal shed where the coal was stored.  

There were removable boards inside this shed which held the coal in place. These would be removed as the coal was used up to give access lower down and then replaced before the new delivery. Dad always said I had to count the sacks as they were emptied by the coal man to ensure a full delivery. People were not always very trusting of the delivery men to deliver the full order. Once emptied out it was anyone’s guess how many bags had been delivered.

Attribution: Nationaal Archief/Spaarnestad Photo via Nationaal Archief

The Rag and Bone Man

The rag and bone men made regular appearance with their horse drawn carts or sometimes even with a hand barrow,  and their ‘rags for sale’ or ‘any old rags’ cries.  They would usually use small gifts , such as balloons, sweets or goldfish, to attract children to pester their parents in to bringing out their old clothes offerings.

Rag and Bone Man

The Pop Man

The ‘pop man’ was always welcomed by the kids. I recall ours was  the Tyneside Direct Supply Company who had their factory at the back of Ilford Road adjacent to  ‘Blackie’s Valley’ where we often played.  On offer was cream soda, dandelion & burdock, lime, orange or lemonade and of course when we were ill , Lucozade. Noting here that Lucozade was to be consumed by the small wineglass and not as now in half litre bottles. We could choose up to two small bottles of a pop to last a whole week. 

They also made ice lollies with the pop syrups and sold them for just a 1d each.   We would  cadge a ride on the pop wagon sitting up on the back among the crates of pop having a ride for a few streets . It all came to an end when the pop man discovered we had been playing with the levers on the soda syphons discharging some of the contents.There were also Gledhills and Corona lorries.

The Milk Man

Everyone was reliant on their milkman’s daily deliveries. The familiar whine of  his electric ‘float’ could be heard whilst we were still lying in bed as he made his early deliveries.  In Winter the milk sitting on our doorsteps would sometimes freeze, expanding upwards out of the bottle an inch or two with a frozen stick of cream occasions the blue tits had learnt to get their share by pecking though the foil covers to feast on the cream. 

Today’s generation are probably unaware of this nice creamy layer,  especially rich on a bottle of Jersey milk, which our parents would decant off to be used as a cheap pouring cream on tinned fruit and other puddings. This was ‘real milk’ , not skimmed or homogenised . There was standard milk, Jersey milk, T.T. Tested milk (tuberculin tested),  and sterilised milk. The latter (Puroh milk) came in bottles similar to a pint beer bottle complete with a red crown cap.  Modern milk is homogenised as well as having been skimmed or semi skimmed of its creamy content.

Some will recall the Co-op Dairy where you paid in advance for your milk at a Coop shop and were given milk coupons…..plastic coinlike discs which you then left out for the milk man in a little aluminium holder clipped to the top of the bottle. 

Other milkmen would have a regular afternoon and evening round to collect their money from customers, calling round with a large leather money satchel and their little black ledger of debts.

  A Dairy Crest ex-Unigate Wales & Edwards Rangemaster Milk Float.

Who was round your street in the 50s and 60s?

The Paper Boy

An early visitor round your street each day was the chirpy paper lad. Although ours was more often an elderly gentleman on a bicycle,  he was still known as the paper  ‘boy’. Deliveries then were twice in a day so that we could be kept up to date with the latest information and breaking news. Computers , i pads  and cell phones were not even dreamt of and the evening paper was just that and not delivered with the morning one as seems to happen today.

Paper Boy (unknown origin)

The Post Man

Following the paper boy came the post man with his ‘first post’ delivery followed later in the day by a second offering. The early or first class delivery has now faded out of existence with only a single drop off at any time of the day. Sometimes we were lucky enough for the parcels delivery van as well, but this was not as constant as it is now with all the online selling.

Postman   Royal Mail early morning delivery, Omagh.

The Lamp Man

In the 50’s we still had gas street lamps  with their familiar four  sided, angled glass housing. The days of the lamplighter had passed earlier along with the ‘knocker up’  and I believe that mechanical timers had been introduced , but I can still recall the lamp man coming around with his little ladder and long pole to adjust or service these lamps soon  to be replaced with their electric successors.

Old gas lamp in the front garden 

The Laundryman

The laundryman was another frequent visitor. With weekly calls there were several companies making doorstep collections. Many will recall the Bird’s Laundry,  Provincial Laundry and Superb Dry cleaning collection vans. Mother would send large items such as bed sheets for laundering and suits and trousers would go to the cleaners.  They all came back with little tags attached with your customer number printed on.

The Ringtons Tea Man

The Rington’s Tea man was well known in this area with the Rington’s depot at Algernon Road, Byker.  The Rington’s Horse and Cart had been a familiar site through the years and their vans were regular visitors. The tea man would park at the end of a street and then make his rounds with a very large wicker basket over his arm containing his teas and coffees.

Ringtons Tea Van    
Ringtons Tea Tin

The Fruit and Veg Man

Sometimes we would get a fruit and vegetable seller who called round with his wares on a horse and cart and later a lorry. His visits to our street were somewhat erratic but perhaps he didn’t find many takers and mostly traded elsewhere. Once in a while a large van, kitted out inside as a travelling shop, would show up. Stepping inside this van was so much easier than visiting the local shops but it never quite caught on round our way and his visits were thus quite rare.

Who do you remember calling round your street?

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Typhoid Comes To Gosforth

Old map of Gosforth.

10 November 1890 Typhoid is on the Agenda

The Gosforth Urban District Council minutes of 10 November 1890 includes details of a report made by Dr Galbraith, the Medical Officer of Health, for the month of October 1890. The report records the discovery of seven cases of typhoid in Gosforth during October. These were new cases adding to eight cases reported in Spring 1890. It was further reported that all of the cases had something in common – all of the sufferers have been drinking milk supplied by Kay’s dairy.

What Is Typhoid?

Typhoid is a potentially fatal disease that is spread by contaminated food and drink. Symptoms include fever, rash, weakness, stomach pains, headache and loss of appetite. It was a common cause of death before the development of a vaccine in 1897.

Kay’s Dairy

Kay’s dairy was sited at 8 Henry Street, Gosforth. Bulmer’s directory of 1887 lists Mrs Mary Kay, 8 Henry Street – Cowkeepers and Dairies. The 1881 census lists Mary Kay, a 45-year-old widow, living at 8 Henry Street with her five children and a boarder. Mary’s occupation is not recorded. Ten years earlier in 1871 Mary and her husband William and their five children were living at Causey End. William, a gardener, died later the same year with Mary being left to provide for herself and her family.

1881 Census 8 Henry Street, Mary Kay
1881 Census Showing Mary Kay Living at 8 Henry Street.

Causey End

Causey End was an area of poor quality housing situated around the area that became Elmfield Road. In 1873 The Newcastle Weekly Chronicle published a series called ‘Our Colliery Villages’, profiles of coalmining communities across Northumberland. The article on Gosforth includes a description of the Causey End area

‘… the scent of flowers becomes changed for the smell of offensive sewage, and the graceful outlines of luxurious dwellings give way to the coarse antique ugliness of the miners’ cottages at Causey End …

No man knows when it was built; its unsanitary condition has killed off so many of its natives that no oldest inhabitant survives to record its history …’


Text photo of Our Colliery Villages
Exert from Weekly Chronicle Our Colliery Villages

Council Reaction

Having reported on the latest outbreaks of typhoid in October 1890, Dr Galbraith was instructed to place an advertisement in the local newspaper advising the local population of the source of the outbreak. No doubt this has a devastating effect on Mary Kay’s business, and by 1891 she appears to have left the area.This outbreak of typhoid appears to have stirred Gosforth Urban District Council into action. At a meeting held on 12 January 1891, a Report was presented to Council asking members to consider whether the Model Regulations of the Local Government Board on the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act 1886 and the Dairies Cowsheds and Milk Shops Order of 1885 & Infectious Diseases (Prevention Act) 1890 should be adopted. The motion was passed to approve the Regulations. One of the clauses of which was 400 cubic feet of free air space was required for each cow.

This is one of the public health issues that faced Gosforth in the 19th century. Look out for more posts about these challenges in the future.

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Historical Aspects of Gosforth

Historical Aspects of Gosforth Drawing of the entrance to Gosofrth 1880

What would you say if it were possible to view the historical aspects of Gosforth via a coach ride and see what it was like 200 years ago?

In this post, we take a look at the very early development of Gosforth through the writing of Richard Welford. Richard describes a coach journey through Gosforth along the Great North Road c1815-25. The text paints a colourfully historical picture of rural community life in Gosforth at this time. The direction of travel is approaching Gosforth, or Bulman Village from the Town Moor.

The Early History Of Gosforth

Not only can we get a passing glance at Gosforth life around 1810 – 1825, but when we compare excerpts from Our Colliery Villages published 1873 in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, we also get a fleeting look at how Gosforth developed during 1825 -1853. The passages that we share from Our Colliery Villages describe a walk from the area at Causeway End (Causey Street) to the area known as the Shoulder of Mutton ( Salters Road Jubilee Road junction) in 1873.

These two lively narratives shine a spotlight on the Gosforth area as it developed from one of rural farms, meadows, coal mines and miners dwellings, (smells and all!) to include grand houses and villas, one or two which still stand today. The language is a little flowery for today’s tastes, but we find it an effective conduit to transport us back to the 1800s!

We have included portions of the 1860 os map so you may be able to pick out some of the buildings referred to in the text.

A History Of The Parish Of Gosforth


On the right of the bridge, near the hollow, was a small landsale coal pit; close by it Roseworth Cottage, and beyond it the church and farmstead; while on the other side were Coxlodge Hall, the Grand Stand, with the Water Company’s Mill spinning merrily round beside it; the Yellow House, or Farm; Kenton Lodge, and in the distance the village of Kenton.

Historical Aspects of Gosforth map portion 1860
OS map of Bulman Village1860

The first roadside buildings in the parish were the engine shaft, the farm, and group of cottages on the left at Causey End. A couple of yards further on the coach “bumped” over Kenton and Coxlodge waggon-way and past the Coving House, with the work of corf making proceeding briskly under the eye of Anderson the master corver, and huge stacks of rods protected by straw roofs piled upon the ground which now forms Thomas Buckham’s garden.(A corf was a wicker basket in which coals were brought to the surface. It continued in use until about the year 1840, when the late Mr. T.Y. Hall introduced the present tub and cage system.)

Historical Aspects of Gosforth map portion Bulman Village 1860
Causey End and Corving House

More fields then Gosforth turnpike Gate, with Gosforth Cottage (known to recent residents as Hall’s or Bell’s farm), closely adjoining it; and between them a house which had been the Shoulder of Mutton beer shop, until on the opening of Fawdon Colliery Sir Thomas Burdon built a larger “Shoulder of Mutton” higher up Salter’s Road.

Historical Aspects of Gosforth OS map portion 1860 Coxlodge colliery
Gosforth Cottage and Coxlodge Colliery

Next came the first roadside building in the parish on the right hand side – the house now occupied by Mr. David Hetherington. On the left were huge stacks of hay for the pit ponies, and behind them Coxlodge Colliery. Then about 100 yards north of the third milestone, on the right, were a cottage and stable known as Tinket House, though why so called does not at present appear. Presently the coach rolled round the corner into Three Mile Bridge, and if the time of day was suitable passengers caught a glimpse of stout John Magnay at his forge, and Thomas Morrow at his bench, with Pigs Folly between, and so, through Low and High Gosforth plantations the coach left the parish and rattled on to Wideopen.

Historical Aspects of Gosforth Three Mile Bridge Drawing

Gosforth 1825 Onwards

From 1825 onwards Gosforth began to develop in earnest. The area became known as Bulman Village in 1830.

Fast Forward to 1873

Transcription Our Colliery Villages.

“A couple of miles to the north of Newcastle, and just beyond the Grand Stand, large numbers of snug suburban residences are springing up, built in almost every variety of residential architecture, from Gothic villa to modest cottage ornee. Just beyond these abodes of modest competence, we come upon another variety of cottage architecture, not so pleasing to the sight as the residences of some of our successful tradesmen. To anyone who approaches Coxlodge Colliery in this direction the transition is most curious. It is as though one passed in a few strides from Belgravia to Wapping – from Jesmond to Sandgate.

One minute you are passing the pleasure grounds of the wealthy, in another the scent of flowers becomes changed for the smell of offensive sewage, and the graceful outlines of luxurious dwellings, give away the coarse antique ugliness of the miners’ cottages at Causey End.

A couple of miles to the north of Newcastle, and just beyond the Grand Stand, large numbers of snug suburban residences are springing up, built in almost every variety of residential architecture, from Gothic villa to modest cottage ornee. Just beyond these abodes of modest competence, we come upon another variety of cottage architecture, not so pleasing to the sight as the residences of some of our successful tradesmen. To anyone who approaches Coxlodge Colliery in this direction the transition is most curious. It is as though one passed in a few strides from Belgravia to Wapping – from Jesmond to Sandgate. One minute you are passing the pleasure grounds of the wealthy, in another the scent of flowers becomes changed for the smell of offensive sewage, and the graceful outlines of luxurious dwellings, give away the coarse antique ugliness of the miners’ cottages at Causey End.”

The writer goes on to describe Causey End in this spectacular fashion. We have chosen one or two choice sentences, so you get the gist!

“Pigs flourish and grow fat at Causey End; they seem to be in their natural element there. They are well fed and content seeing nothing within eyeshot to cause them a single pang of envy or covetousness save the cabbages in the adjacent gardens.”

“These cottages possess capacities for wretchedness second to none, and were it not that they are kept in decent repair, and propped now and again with plentiful lime they would soon sink to even a lower level than our old acquaintances at Seghill.”

“The ashes accumulate in heaps and the slops and sewage are carried off by surface channels to a foul smelling open drain not far from the houses.”

“A little further on is a group of cottages of the name description as those at Causey End, which take their name from the nearest public-house, and are therefore known as the Shoulder of Mutton, though really they look more like a collection of “fag ends” than any other joint known to the butcher.”

Historical Aspects of Gosforth os map portion 1860 "fag end" cottages and Shoulder of Mutton
fag end Cottages encircled in blue and Shoulder of Mutton Pub.

Fag End Cottages

We believe this collection of “fag end” cottages were demolished before 1898 as they do not appear on the os map of that year. By 1902 the more respectable properties at 145, 147 and 149 Salters Road were built. The corner shop began to flourish, adding to the growing prosperity of the neighbourhood. From 1902 until the present day the small lock-up shops at 147 and 149 Salters Road have provided a base for continuous trade for this area of Gosforth. Today the building is occupied by Connection Same Day Courier trading since 1983 and the relatively recent and very popular business residents Canny Crafty. Canny Crafty opened its doors at 147 Salters Road in 2017 and has recently expanded to trade from the premises at both 147 and 149 Salters Road.

Our local traditional buildings have a lot to tell us, from the bricks and stones used to build them to the characters who walked the hallways. Many of them would have watched both world wars or stood proudly during the Victorian era. Perhaps they are even older, and were built during the Industrial Revolution or designed by Georgian architects. Find out more at our Etsy store!

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Who Lived In My House?

Who lived in my house?

The Ouseburn, looking south c1907 while culverting was underway, a piece of Newcastle becomes hidden.” Christopher Goulding – Hidden Newcastle

Who lived in my house? We have completed a commission to research two Heaton house histories. The houses are neighbouring on Warwick Street. We investigated who lived in these houses and presented our House History packs for a birthday gift. Our client expressed the intention that the packs would stay with the properties upon selling, or upon new residents moving in.

Dating The Properties

Our search began by looking at early edition Ordnance Survey maps. Warwick Street was not located on the 1st edition map of circa 1860 but did appear on the 2nd edition map of 1899 and the 3rd edition map of 1921. These dates narrowed our timespan to between 1860 and 1899.

Who Lived In My House?

Looking through the electoral registers provided our second clue. The first occupants of the neighbouring properties that we located were Robert Charlton, an electrician and Ernest Schumann a cashier.  We found the first reference to both Robert and Ernest residing on Warwick Street in the electoral register of 1887. This date suggests that the properties were built circa 1886. Using a combination of sources we were able to trace the occupants of both properties from 1887 to the 1980s.

From a painting of the Ouseburn by J W Carmichael. Historic Newcastle. Frank Graham

House Histories In Context

Further studies of electoral registers, census records and directories enabled us to view the residents in context with local history.
The area around Warwick Street has a colourful history. Originally typically agricultural, the character of the Ouseburn valley changed and developed with the Industrial revolution. A host of industries such as iron foundries, flint mills and lead works developed.

We discovered that Mr George Forster was resident of Warwick Street in 1899, and was possibly a manager at the Ouseburn Lead Works. At this time, a walk to the bottom of Warwick street would have revealed the Ouseburn as a watercourse running above ground.

Ouseburn Culvert

During 1907 – 1911 the culvert over the burn was built and completed effectively hiding the Ouseburn from view. People living on Warwick Street after 1911would not have known the Ouseburn in its natural aspect.

Later in 1950, after being used as a tip, the valley at the bottom of Warwick Street was filled in. The Allan family resided on Warwick Street from 1938 for over 60 years. During their later years at this address, the view of the area would have much the same as we know it today.

Heaton Park

By contrast, to the industrial Ouseburn valley, the houses at the top end of Warwick Street backed onto to Heaton Park. Heaton Park, Armstrong Park and Jesmond Dene developed in the Victorian era.

Heaton House Histories Victoria Library

Victoria Library

At the top of Warwick Street there is a building that dates back to 1898, the Victoria Library. Plans to build the library were controversial. Residents were concerned about building on the green space. The first residents of our houses, Mr Ernest Schuman and Mr  Robert Charlton, would have been aware of local plans to build the Victoria Library and the concern surrounding them.

Bombs Fall on Heaton

One night, in particular, would never be forgotten for residents of Warwick Street and that is the night of April 25 1941. A German bomb fell on the main walkway of Heaton Park. Fortunately only the greenhouse windows were damaged. However, more bombs fell across the Heaton area on that night. . At Guildford Place and Cheltenham Terrace, 47 people died when a bomb exploded on a terrace of houses.

Heaton House Histories pack contents


We presented our Heaton house histories in newly designed folders with maps and copies of census entries and our specially designed table of residents.

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Life In A Colliery House In Coxlodge

Life in a colliery house in Coxlodge

The Coxlodge Hotel locally known as The Trap. Built approx. 1868.

Guest Post By Author Jack P Harland

Coxlodge in the ‘50s; a personal memoir

Life in a colliery house in Coxlodge. Jack Harland grew up in Coxlodge in the 50s and 60s. He was born in an upstairs bedroom of a colliery house in Coxlodge on West Street, (now Kenton Road) in the middle of a snowstorm. In later years Jack’s career took him north to Scotland where he developed a love of hillwalking and mountain climbing. This love of the outdoors led to the publication of his book, Highland Journal – The Making Of A Hillwalker (with a second book in the series due to be published soon). Highland Journal brings together Jack’s skills as an artist and writer. We are delighted to be able to share Jack’s memories with you here.

In this post Jack shares with us his young memories of life in 1950s Coxlodge.

The Trap

I was born in the unheated bedroom of a one up, one down colliery house in a snowstorm.  The midwife couldn’t get there so my Grandma delivered me.  I spent much of my early childhood in that house as my mother worked and I loved it.  It was a couple of doors down from the Trap, the social heart of Coxlodge.

There was no electricity and no bathroom.  The ‘lavvy’ was in the yard at the back, across from the air raid shelter.  Grandma used to tell me about the war and how her father was the village ARP.  A bomb got stuck in a chimney a few doors down in West Street and he helped get it out.  When the anti-aircraft guns on the Town Moor were firing, the house shook and Granny’s ornaments fell off the mantleshelf (Granny was my great grandmother and she had a bed under the stair in the sitting room).  The lavvy was cold and damp and froze in the winter.  Grandma put salt in the pan to thaw it out.  Squares of torn-up newspaper on a string served for toilet paper.  Potties under the beds saved having to go outside on cold, wet nights.

Drawing of Jack Harland with his Grandma when he stayed in Coxlodge. By Mairi Harland
Drawing of Jack with his Grandma by Mairi Harland

Gas Light

The only light in the house came from two gas mantles above the fire.  Grandma would take a coloured spill, light it in the fire and hold it to the mantle while she turned the brass taps for the gas.  It lit with a satisfying pop and then settled to a low hiss as the filament glowed bright.

Cooking was done on the range and Grandma was an excellent cook.  She made all her bread and mouth-watering cakes and pies.  There were two types of gingerbread made in roasting tins, one with Golden Syrup and one with black treacle.  I loved both but my favourite was that made with black treacle, it was so sticky and rich.  Fruit cakes, cherry cakes, spice cakes…it was a long list and I was well-fuelled!  We used to sit in the evening and make toast on the embers of the fire using an old toasting fork.  Thick slices with chunks of butter melted in, delicious.

In the warmer months Grandma would fancy shandies and I was sent to the Trap with an enamel jug for beer.  I remember the smell of the beer and cigarette smoke and the noise of loud chatter and gales of laughter.  The bar staff knew me by name and often had a treat for me.

Life in a colliery house in Coxlodge

The Weekly Bath

Baths were once a week and happened in an old zinc bath kept in the washroom at the back.  It was lifted through and put in front of the fire.  A clothes horse with towels was set up around it to keep off draughts.  Grandma trotted back and forth with jugs from the boiler to fill it and all three of us used the same water (one at a time!).  I felt very luxurious sitting there in the warm water, looking at the flames burning around the coals in the fire.

Our evening entertainment was mostly a programme on the wireless.  This was on old brown one on the wall and the service was provided by Rediffusion, for which Grandma payed rent.

My grandfather had been killed in the pit so Grandma got free coal (her only compensation).  A colliery wagon came down the back lane and tipped out a pile onto the cobbles.  I went out with her and helped shovel the lumps into the coal house, some so big that I could only lift one at a time.  The fire was lit every morning, winter or summer.

Monday Wash Day

Mondays were washing days.  Grandma lit the gas under the boiler, heated the water, threw in the washing and plunged a bleached stick in to stir it round.  I liked to help and was interested in the stick, which had one end thinner than the other from being plunged so often into the boiler.  The lines were hung across the back lane and I would run down the whole lane letting the freshly laundered sheets and clothing brush over my (dirty) face and hands.  Sometimes I was spotted and had to run for it!

At the end of a busy day I had to clean my teeth in the kitchen sink, using a little tin of hard tooth powder, then it was up to bed.  Grandma lit a little oil lamp and I was settled into her bed.  I used to try to stay awake until she came to join me but always fell asleep.

Continue on and read Jack’s next post The Lost Streets of Gosforth

Front cover of the book Highland Journal by Jack P Harland.
Highland Journal by Jack P Harland

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A Northumbrian Naturalist

Pen and ink drawing of Joshua Alder. A Northumbrian Naturalist

This post was prompted by the second TV series of A House Through Time in which David Olusoga traces the history of no 5 Ravensworth Terrace in Newcastle NE1. If you enjoyed the series and are interested in House Histories you may be able to pick up some research tips from our post How Do I Research The History Of My House?

Joshua Alder

Joshua Alder was born in Newcastle in 1792. An article in the monthly chronicles of North Country Lore and Legend states that his early education was with an Mr Prowitt who had a school on Pilgrim Street. From there Joshua went to Tanfield where he was educated by Rev Joseph Simpson. Reportedly a family member who ran a school of good standing. At the age of 15, Joshua went to work in the family business on Dean Street. We have learned from David Olusoga’s TV series A House Through Time that the family had a cheesemonger shop. The year after Joshua returned to the shop his father died which meant that at the age of 16 the responsibility for running the family business and supporting his mother and the rest of his family fell to him.

John Robinson

According to his contemporaries, Joshua was not happy with the commercial life. He preferred to spend time studying, drawing and conducting scientific experiments. As the years went by Mr John Robinson who worked as an assistant in the shop took on more responsibilities. John Robinson resided at Roseworth Cottage in Gosforth. Eventually, about the year 1840, Joshua decided to concentrate on his love of nature and more or less left the family business (according to Richard Welford – other sources say that the shop was sold) to his faithful friend and assistant John Robinson.

Text from North Country Lore and Legend. Profile on Joshua Alder showing Gosforth connection.
excerpt from the 1887 monthly chronicles written by Richard Welford

As a young man, Joshua liked to take long walks and travel to distant places. He would reportedly take a sketchbook which he filled with geological and botanical drawings. Ultimately his interest in nature developed into a specialist knowledge of the Mollusca. Joshua compiled a catalogue of his research which was published among the papers of the Natural History Society of Newcastle. Joshua Alder often worked with Albany Hancock, and many of his papers share both names.

Joshua Alder was one of the founders of the Newcastle Natural History Society in 1839. In 1849 he became the president of the Tyneside Naturalists Field Club of which he was also a founding member in1846. The chronicle goes on to report that –

“All contemporary naturalist of note, at home and abroad, were at some time or other in correspondence with him, and one genus (Alderia) and nine species of Mollusca were named in his honour.”

5 Ravensworth Terrace

It seems that Joshua Alder was a man held in high esteem. After the failure of the Northumberland and Durham District Banking Company which caused Joshua to lose his home at 5 Ravensworth Terrace a memorial was made to the Government which was

“… signed by the best-known men in various fields of investigation and research,…”  he was awarded a pension of £70 from the Civil List.

Joshua Alder died on 21st January 1867 aged 74 years.

Mr Alder was mild, genial and unobtrusive, willing at any time to impart his knowledge to others with much affability, and never allowing the opportunity to escape him of encouraging the young and inexperienced students. In conduct upright and honourable, he was in feeling, word and deed, a gentleman.”

Dr Embleton

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Street Name Origins

Street name sign Elgy Road

What’s In A Name?

Have you ever wondered where your street name originated? In the following post we share our research into the origin of a street called Elgy Road in Gosforth.

When researching the history or a property it is interesting to consider the significance of a property or street name. You may find for example that the name has some link to a former building that stood on the site – Ashburton Road is named after the Ashburton Estate referred to in an earlier post about our research into the history of the Elgy Road property. A street name may have some association with the builder or developer or be related to its geographical situation.

Elgy Road Gosforth

Elgy Road is an unusual street name but we believe that we may have discovered its origins. Mackenzie’s Historical Account of Newcastle upon Tyne of 1827 contains a number of references to Elge or Elgy of Gosford. We have listed the references below:

Year 1170

In 1170 Robert Lisle, son of Otwell, married a daughter of Richard de Canville, and obtained a grant of his fathers’ South Gosforth estate. The superior lord, Walter Fitz William, sanctioned the transfer, which included “the church and the mill, and all liberties to the land belonging in, in wood and plain, meadow and pasture, road and path &c” Prior John of Hexham, Walter Lisle, Hugh Lisle and Elge de Gosford witnessed this deed, and King Henry II by a charter dated 1198 confirmed it.

Year 1248

In 1248 Elge de Gosford mentioned with reference to the rebuilding of the Tyne Bridge. He was witness to a deed where by the church granted indulgences to all who assisted in repairing it.

Year 1250

In 1250 an inquisition after the death of Otwell Lisle stated that he held Gosforth as “heir of Elgy, son of John.”

Elge of Gosford

The timespan of the references suggests that there was more than one person called Elge of Gosford, possibly generations of the same family. Research in this period is difficult. Survival of records is patchy and handwriting is difficult but we intend to try and discover more about Elge/Elgy.

Our mission is to discover, share and re-tell stories that enhance a persons relationship with their home by revealing the unique timeline of their house and placing them at the beginning of a new chapter of their property.

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John Mood Stationer and Conscientious Objector

Advert for Jogn Mood Sationer in Gosforth

Long time residents of Gosforth will recall a stationery shop on Gosforth High Street, Moods of Gosforth. As children, it was a treat to visit the shop and consider which of the books or stationery we might request for our next birthday or Christmas gift. These memories have prompted us to look at the history of this much-loved shop and its founder.

John Mood

A notice in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle of 8 February 1965 records the death of a ‘Jesmond man’ aged 77. Reading on, we learn that the man was John Mood and that until his retirement in 1952 Mr Mood kept a newsagent’s and stationer’s in Gosforth’. Intriguingly we also learn that John Mood was former secretary of the North-eastern area of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. This small newspaper article provides a clue to John Mood’s interesting past.

Newspaper article recording death of John Mood

“Jesmond man dies at 77 The former secretary of the North Eastern area of the Fellowship Association, Mr John Mood of  Ripon Garden Jesmond Newcastle has died at his home. Mr Mood who was aged 77, leaving a widow a married son and three married daughters. Until his retirement in 1952 Mr Mood kept a Newsagent’s and Stationer’s shop in Gosforth.”

Early Life

John Mood established Moods of Gosforth in the second decade of the twentieth century. John Mood was born in Bedlington, Northumberland, in 1887, the son of Robert and Amelia Mood. In 1897 John’s mother passed away, and by the 1911 census, he was living with his father and stepmother Eliza. The same census records John as working as a stone miner in a colliery. As was common in south east Northumberland at the time John was a member of a coalmining family – his father Robert is noted as a Deputy Overman in Coal Mine. An Overman was a senior position – someone who supervised the underground workings.

Conscientious Objector?

Early research hasn’t revealed how John had spent the years between the 1911 census and the first reference to him in a Gosforth directory in 1918. Logically we might have expected him to be involved in some form of First World War military service. However a search of surviving army service records and the much more comprehensive Medal Roll Cards both found on the Ancestry website failed to reveal any reference to him. Seeing the newspaper article recording John’s death provided a clue to his wartime experiences. The Fellowship of Reconciliation is a worldwide association of non-violent religious organisations founded in August 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War. The association was established as result of an agreement made between Dr Henry Hodgkin, medical doctor, and member of the well-known north-eastern family of Quakers, and Friedrich Siegmund-Schultze, a German academic. Could John Mood have been a conscientious objector during the First World War? The Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website includes a list of 16500 men who refused to serve in the military on religious, ethical, political or social grounds. Included in this list is John Mood of Stone Row, Bedlington. The record indicates some uncertainty around how John spent the war years, but a note suggests that ‘Family sources suggest he may have served in the YMCA’. A section of the YMCA’s website tells the story of the important role that the organisation played in supporting troops during both World Wars.

Gosforth Stationer

John Mood makes his first appearance in a trade directory for Gosforth in 1918 where he is described as John Mood stationer, 153 High Street. The same list notes that John’s residential address was 31 Otterburn Avenue, Gosforth. At this point John was unmarried – in 1921 he married Rachel Clements. The marriage was registered in Newcastle Registration District in the June quarter of 1921. Using directories, we have traced the family living at various properties in the Gosforth area. Between 1918-1925 John then later John and Rachel were living at 31 Otterburn Avenue. In 1928 the couple were living at Brentwood, Fawdon. By 1930 the family were back in Gosforth living at 7 Ivy Road. The family seem to have continued to live in Ivy Road until John’s retirement.

Extract from 1939 registar

This extract from the 1939 Register – a list of all residents of Great Britain recorded in September 1939, the month that war was declared, shows the Mood family living at 7 Ivy Road, Gosforth. It seems that entries relating to two family members have been blacked out or redacted. This is because these family members were born less than 100 years ago. We have found reference to the birth registrations of four children to John and Rachel Mood – Rosalind (born 1922), Robert (born 1925), Celia (born 1927) and Louise (born 1934). The redacted entries are likely to relate to two of their children. The register is useful because it records the date of birth and occupations of those listed. The information recorded was used to issue Identity Cards to residents. The 1939 Register can be accessed on Ancestry.

A search of trade directories has revealed that the shop occupied different sites on Gosforth High Street. Between 1918 and 1935 the address is noted as 153 High Street, by 1940 the shop was occupying 164 High Street and by 1950 was occupying numbers 162 and 164. By 1950 the business was also running stationery stores from 60 Woodbine Road.


Newspaper article John Mood failing to observe blackout WW2

“For failing to screen lights during the black-out the following were fined at the Moor Hall Police Court, on Wednesday: Thomas Baites. 11, Roseworth Terrace, Gosforth. 10s; William John Nicholl, 8, Rectory Terrace, South Gosforth, 20s; Alice Pearl, 53 ,Strathmore Road, Gosforth, 10s;  John Mood, 162, High Street, Gosforth, 40s.”

An article in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle of 19 October 1940 revealed that John Mood, together with three more Gosforth residents, was fined earlier the same month for failing to screen lights during the blackout. John’s fine of 40 shillings was the largest given to the four offenders. This was presumably because the offence had taken place on his business premises. The blackout was a nationwide initiative to turn off all lights in towns and cities. It was intended as a defence against German bombers, so they could not be guided by the lights. The blackout was ordered two days before war broke out. Each home was given enough blackout material, usually a dark cotton fabric, to allow homeowners to make blackout curtains. Putting up and taking down the material quickly became a daily task for most households. Windows were covered in the dark material. Car headlamps were also blacked out, causing many accidents, and people were not allowed to smoke cigarettes or cigars outdoors. Many small shops had to have an extra door fitted to stop light from showing when people came in and out of the shop. The blackout was enforced by Air Raid Precaution (ARP) wardens, who made sure that no light could be seen from buildings. Presumably, it was an ARP warden that reported John Mood to the police.

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