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Joe Fisher Family Story

Facets of a Diamond Geezer Joeph Fisher MBE

Following David’s last post when we discovered about Joe Fisher and the Lyktan shop on Gosforth High Street we are now delighted to share the fascinating family history of Joe Fisher! Joe was a third generation of the Fisher family in England. Still living in Gosforth at age 98 Joe now suffers from Post-Polio Syndrome, a hangover from the disease which causes of polio sufferer’s health to deteriorate in later life. His family story stretches well back in to the mid 1800’s


The very interesting history of Joe’s family

Jewish migrants to Britain had increased in the aftermath of two 19th-century uprisings (1831 and 1863) that forced much of Poland’s social and political elite into exile. Some of these wealthier migrants escaped with sufficient money and valuables to be able to start up in business in their new country. Common followings were pawn broking, moneylending, jewellers, glaziers, clothiers, and tailoring. Occupations which they may well have already been involved in in their home countries.

A local Jewish group was founded around 1846 in Tynemouth & North Shields,  but there was no synagogue and religious services were carried out in their own homes.  There were only a very few Jewish families with some of the earliest names being Cohen, Merkel, Marcus, Jackson, Saltman, Sheckman, and Lotinger.

Joseph Moses  FISHER (Fiszher or Fischer)   (Generation 1) 

Joseph Moses Fisher was probably the first of the Fisher family in North Shields – Originally arriving in North Shields somewhere between 1855 and 1865 he was born 1845/1849  in Russian controlled Poland possibly in Krakow . He also had an older brother, David Morris Fisher who was born about 1841 in Poland. David was first recorded in North Shields on the 1881 Census., aged 40, married, to  Mary (or Mina or Minnie). Their father was Moses Jacob Fisher.

Joseph Moses Fisher  was a  Jeweller (Gold) – Pawnbroker – and Dealer in Fancy Goods.  He was in North Shields before 1869 since he was installed as a Freemason that year having arrived some years prior to this probably after 1851 and perhaps with his parents, although it has not been possible to find references to him earlier than 1871, the year after his marriage.

Joseph Moses married  Barbara Cohen  who was born 1857 at Winschoten in Holland.  Barbara was a daughter of  Izak Meyer Cohen & Barbara Jonas Israel.  Izak , also from Winschoten,  was a pawnbroker, & ship’s chandler in North Shields . The marriage was in Tynemouth, North Shields in 1870.

Winschoten is a city with a population of 18,518 in the municipality of Oldambt in the northeast of the Netherlands. It is the largest city in the region of Oldambt in the province of Groningen which has 38,213 inhabitants. Winschoten received its city rights in 1825.

The Meyer Cohen & Co.  Pawnbrokers and Jewellers  Shop
55, Prudhoe Street, North Shields
Believed to be Joseph Moses Fisher and Barbara

Joseph Moses FISHER & Barbara  had 7 children two of which died either in childbirth or soon thereafter.

Moses (Monie)Joseph FISHER b.14/6/1872 Q3 (or 1873)   d.1965

Flora ( Florrie)             FISHER   1873–1973

Myer                            FISHER   1876 – died Dec 1876

Leah                            FISHER   1882–

Henrietta                     FISHER   1883–1970 

Jacques (Jack)             FISHER   1886–1965

Isaac Albert (Bertie)   FISHER   1891 Q3 – died Dec 1891

Forming A Synagogue

Joseph Moses Fisher was installed as a Freemason in North Shields at St. George’s Lodge in 1869. In 1870 a house was rented at 29, Linskill Street in North Shields for the purpose of forming a synagogue for their religious gatherings and services.

29 Linskill Street   –  News Guardian Friday,   16th Sep.2016
An early view of the building Looking back…at the synagogue | News Guardian

On the 1871 census  Joseph M FISHER,  wife Barbara & M. J. Fisher are now living at  14, Linskill Street, North Shields.  Joseph is shown as a jeweller an M. J. Fisher (female) aged just 13 is listed as a domestic servant. ?   It is not known who she was but almost surely a family member. Their home is close to the future synagogue, in the same street.


A single congregation was formed together with South Shields. Mr. Fisher was the treasurer .  A temporary school was held at South Shields with about 40 children attending.  The Linskill premises were reconstructed  to form a proper synagogue in 1876. The local Jewish community was never very large with around 100 people altogether.


The new synagogue at N.Shields was opened on the 23rd March 1876 by the Rev.Harris from Newcastle , with the Rev. Mr. Philippstein as officiating minister . A Dinner was held that evening at the Odd Fellows Hall, Saville St. West’ Present were Chairman Meyer Barczynski a ships chandler . Joseph Fisher & Herman Barczynski  both vice chairmen,  and Mr. Meyer Cohen was MC

Shields Daily News 23 March 1876 .
The celebratory dinner after the opening of the new Synagogue


            “The Synagogue is quite small,  holding a maximum of around 70 people being formed from two small rooms. There is no gallery but just a small rear part for ladies.  A school is on the ground floor with just 12 children attending from about 14 families. “

In 1881 we find Joseph Moses Fisher, a jeweller / tobacconist, with wife Barbara & their children  and  a visitor  Nina Eicholz, 40, who is a clothier/tailor from Holland. They are living at 71,Clive Street, North Shields which runs along the riverside just behind the waterfront buildings , well placed to service the needs of the mariner’s who come and go from the Quay.

Joseph seems to have succeeded well in business and gathers more shops to his business.

1883 Kelly´s Directory of Newcastle (North Shields)
Joseph Fisher Pawnbroker 59,North St.  also Minnie Eichholz at 18,Church Street.

In Kelly’s Directory of 1883 Joseph is shown as a pawnbroker at 59,North Street and Minnie Eichholz  also a pawnbroker at 18,Church Street and a relative of Joseph.

By  1891 census we learn that the Fisher family are still living at 71, Clive Street. 

Joseph M FISHER now 42 is living  with his wife – Barbara, 39 & their 5 children Moses Joseph 19, a Pawnbroker’s Manager, &  Flora 17,  Leah 8, Henrietta 7, and little brother Jacques, aged 4 . A nephew Lipman Hush  aged 19 and  a medical student is with them on census night.

A theft at Fisher’s Clive Street

Shields Daily News 14 December 1892

The news item above in 1892 shows a theft by Agnes Cummings from Joseph Moses Fisher Tobacconist & Watchmaker of Clive Street and also from Hermann Bagger, a hardwareman. Agnes had a string of 48 convictions for various offences.  She received two months on each count to run concurrently.

A Quote from     “Remembering the Past”

“ ………Father in Work    ………..nearly all the fishermen were heavy drinkers and my father was no exception.  When he went back to work on Monday his suit would go straight into the pawnshop until the next settling time  ”

Father in Work – Remembering the Past

A quote showing how the working people in Victorian times (and later) very much depended on their pawnbroker for their survival.

Money was very tight at that time . This is the probable root source of the nursery rhyme expression “pop goes the weasel”.    The weasel was the coat and popping was pawning.

[ ‘weasel & stoat’ is Cockney rhyming slang for coat ].

Shields Daily News 06 February 1893  
part of a hearing Moses Fisher had taken pledges of stolen property from three accused
Fisher’s advert in Shields Daily News 18 July 1893
An advert in Shields Daily News 21 March 1894   18,Church Way, N.Shields
Newcastle Evening Chronicle 02 June 1894
A seaman in trouble for pawning stolen property at Fishers Shop

Being involved in court cases was not uncommon for those in the pawn broking business since the criminal element attempted to off load their ill-gotten stolen goods at the pawnshops.

Shields Daily News 02 August 1894
Theft of gold rings at Fishers, Church Way
Shields Daily News 02 May 1898    

Joe Fisher lives at Alma Place, North Shields
A Fire at his Shop at 61,Howdon Rd.  –  Joseph Moses Fisher is luckily insured.

Joseph Moses Fisher  died  on 20th Aug 1898.

He had been treasurer for the North Shields Jewish congregation for many years and latterly was also Secretary for marriages.

Shields Daily News 22 August 1898 

A masonic funeral for Joseph Moses Fisher

“The Brethren sang the masonic hymn” As they commonly do, the Freemasons turned out in large numbers for Joseph Moses’ funeral, singing their masonic hymn at the close of the ceremony. The Masonic hymn text is a devotional prose-poem entitled “Hymn to the sun” Addresses were given by Rev. Mr. Scheff of North Shields and by the Rev. Mr. Rosenbaum of  Newcastle.

Photograph taken by Peter Gatoff. Indexed and uploaded to Flickr as part of the Lahav Jewish Heritage project (a project funded by a bequest to Newcastle City Council by the Lahav Marital Trust in memory of Ron and Kath Lahav).
Photograph shared with thanks to ‘Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’


Joseph M. Fisher

Died: 20th Aug 1898

Hebrew – Died: 2 Elul 5658

On the 1901 census Barbara Fisher, now a widow is head of the household and a pawnbroker, resident at Alma House, North Shields. She is living with her son Jacques, now aged 14 who is a  pawnbroker’s apprentice,  most likely in the family business, and daughters Leah, 18 and Henrietta 17. The two girls are not shown as employed. There is also one servant, Elizabeth Legg  who is 30 years old .

By  1911 Barbara is living with her son Jacques Fisher who is single aged 24.  Jacques is now a Secretary at the family Pawn broking Company. They have one general servant, Margaret Chambers, and they have now moved to 12, Otterburn Terrace, in Jesmond.

Barbara Fisher (neé Cohen)  died   18 Feb 1935

Moses (Monie) Joseph FISHER (Generation 2a )

Barbara’s eldest son,  Moses Joseph, was born in 1872 at North Shields . Moses was also known as ‘Monie’. Moses also worked within the  family business and was a Pawnbroker/ jeweller/ and general dealer in fancy goods.

The nickname “Monie” was found at various places on the internet and also on the householder return for the 1911 census. It is not a common nickname foe Moses.

1911 census showing the name “Monie”


Moses Joseph was appointed secretary for Jewish marriage registration (Registrar) at North Shields in place of his late father ( 28 Jul 1899).

Freemason’s – St.George’s Lodge, North Shields
Moses Joseph Fisher – Initiation 4th April 1899

Moses Joseph Fisher married Annie May Jacobs at the Synagogue in Glasgow  on 29th Nov 1899 .   Annie May Jacobs was daughter of Charles Jacobs, a clothier and Rika (Regina) Jacobs neé Alexander born  Burslem, Staffordshire about 1876.

Moses Joseph Fisher & Annie May Jacobs  had just one child , a daughter,  Mabel Barbara  Fisher,  who was born on  1st Oct 1900.

After the death of his father in 1899 Moses Joseph assumed  the reins of Fishers Company along with his mother Barbara. They lived in Alma Place in North Shields. On 1901 on the census Moses and Annie, married just 2 years ago, now have a 6 months old baby daughter Mabel B Fisher  & a single general servant , Jane Edwards . They are now at  at  31, Alma Place, North Shields, not far from Moses’s mother Barbara who is at Alma House, North Shields . Living with her are her son Jacques, now aged 14 and a  pawnbroker’s apprentice.

A pair of Fisher’s advertisements from 1904

Shields Daily News 25 November 1904

Fisher’s are at 18,Church Way & 61,Howdon Rd., North Shields


The Shields Daily News for 15 August 1906 reports:    “SHOP DOOR ROBBERY”.

At North Shields Police Court today John Scott and Henry Newstead two young men belonging to South Shields were charged with having stolen from the shop-door of Messrs. M.J. Fisher and Coy, Church Way, on the 14th inst., a silk handkerchief valued at 1/11.

Accused said they were out of employment and hungry. This was their 7th appearance and they were committed to prison for 14 days”.

John Scott Photograph credit Tyne and Wear Museums
Henry Newstead Photograph credit Tyne and Wear Museums


Fishers establish a Wholesale Jewellery Company in Newcastle  at 28, Nun Street.


Moses Joseph is now managing director of the pawnbroking/ jewellery business. He and wife Annie have now moved nearer the city living at 38,Queens Road, Jesmond, Newcastle.  Daughter Mabel, now 10 years old is still at school.. On census day they have a young visitor staying, Elsie Levy aged 7. Probably a relative.


Barbara Fisher meanwhile is living with her son Jacques 24, who is unmarried and is Secretary at the Pawn broking Company. There is one general servant. They are all now  living  at 12, Otterburn Terrace, Jesmond.

Newcastle Evening Chronicle 23 January 1913
Court case – theft from Fishers, Nun Street
Jacques Fisher a partner –  28 Nun Street

Another court case in 1913 reported in the Chronicle.  Alfred Oxendale , who had worked for Fishers as a traveller and salesman for a year at a wage of £2 a week with travelling expenses.  Thomas Trigg had worked for them as a door porter.  Oxendale was charged with theft of watches , cutlery and jewellery worth £15  9s  2d  and Trigg was charged for receiving stolen goods  worth £6  9s  6d knowing them to be stolen.  

Newcastle Journal 16 May 1917

This article in the Newcastle Journal in 1917 reports on a case where Fisher’s were summoned for serving customers after permitted hours . They were still open “ 10 minutes “ after the time allowed.    – fined 20 shillings

Shields Daily News 20 August 1921 various offers from:
Fisher Ltd.,  Pawnbroker’s & General Salesmen
This advert reveals that Fisher’s were now trading at
19,Saville St.,  18,Church Way   and 61, Howdon Rd., North Shields

“The Paa’n Shop”

Fishers Pawnshop Howdon Road,    1940
Suits are hung outside through the week and are ‘bought
back’ for the upcoming weekend

Fisher’s Pawnshop was at 61, Howdon Rd., on the corner of Thrift St. from 1901   The Ex-servicemen’s club was built here later and has for years been  known locally as “The Paa’n Shop” , a corruption of the word ‘pawnshop’ probably derived from the local pronunciation of the word.

Tynemouth Ex Serviceman’s Club   
aka “The Paa’n Shop”   in later years

Moses Joseph Fisher died  on 6th May 1965 where he was in the Holy Rood Nursing Home in Middlesborough. at the time of his death. He was buried in Newcastle at Heaton Cemetery, Jewish Section.

Jacques   FISHER (Generation2b ) 

The youngest son of Joseph Moses Fisher & Barbara Cohen Jacques was born in 1887 at Tynemouth, N.Shields . He too was  a Pawnbroker / jeweller and general dealer in fancy goods in the family business.

Jacques married Sybil Jacobs  (b.26/3/1888 ) at Glasgow on 6th Nov 1912 .

Sybill’s parents were Charles Jacobs, a retired clothier and his wife Regina (Rika) neé Alexander .  Sybil was also a younger sister of Annie May Jacobs who had married Jacques older brother Moses Joseph.. Sybil’s Mother, Regina Alexander was the daughter of Leopold Alexander & Sibilla Gutentag and was born in Dusseldorf 14th Feb.   about 1852. Her parents had married in 1875 at Chorlton in Lancashire..


The electoral roll for Newcastle of 1914 shows that Jacques has now moved to 8, Grosvenor Place, Jesmond   Sybil is not yet listed here as being a woman she can not yet vote.  Women’s suffrage did not end until 1918 when women were finally allowed to vote.

1920 Electoral roll Jacques and Sybil are at 8,Grosvenor Place, Jesmond

By 1920 with the wholesale business in Newcastle Jacques and Sybil are now residing in Jesmond at 8 Grosvenor Place.  Sybil, now able to vote, also appears on the roll. Jacques and Sybil had two children , a boy and a girl, Joseph Charles & Rike (Rica)


By the outbreak of World War 11 in 1939  as shown on the 1939 Register Jacques and Sybil are still at Grosvenor Place but Moses Joseph Fisher now 63 years old,  and Jacques older brother is also living with them listed as . A General Dealer (Fancy Goods)

1939 Register Jacques and Sybil are at 8 Grosvenor Place, Jesmond
The redacted entry beneath Jacques’ name is possibly for Joseph C Fisher or Rica

1942 – 46 

The Fisher company was still active throughout  the war and was now located at 17-18, Nun Street.

Ncle. Evening Chronicle 23 Oct 1942     
Sunday Sun (Newcastle) 25 August 1946

Company address now is 17-18, Nun Street, a few doors up the street.

Sybil Fisher, died 17th March 1961, aged 61 years …….and Jacques (Jack)  Fisher, died just 4 years later on 15th November 1965 aged 71 years

By 1948  Joseph Charles Fisher had returned from the war and was now working within the jewellery business. Joe Fisher now aged 98, still lives in Gosforth with his wife Christine . He spent much of his time during the Covid lockdown writing his personal story for his family and also penning a regular Blog. ©David Wardell

“Facets Of A Diamond Geezer” 
by Joseph C Fisher M.B.E

With grateful thanks for the assistance provided me by Joseph Fisher

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A Real Diamond Geezer

Discovering Heritage Joe Fisher header image and quote

A World War Two veteran who dedicated his life to helping polio sufferers  and a real  “diamond geezer

A story of Polish/Russian/Dutch Ashkenazi Jewish migrants who were Jewellers and Pawnbrokers,, and owned the Lyktan retail shop on Gosforth High Street.

When we received this message from David Wardell we knew straight away that this was going to be a brilliant story! In contrast to many of our other posts this latest research from David looks at the life of Joe Fisher who at the age of 98 lives in Gosforth.

“In a nutshell it is about Joseph Fisher a Jesmond / Gosforth man who contracted polio in the army out in Burma in WWII and was seriously disabled but pressed on regardless with his life and helping others like himself. Son of a family of Jewish immigrants (mid Victorian) pawnbrokers / jewellers  in North Shields and and wholesale jewellers later in Newcastle. He founded a hostel / training centre for polio victims in Newcastle. Married a Swede and opened a shop in Gosforth selling Swedish wares.  Successfully Transferred the business to Newcastle. “

We are sharing this story in two parts, the second part will trace the family history back to the mid 1800’s.

Joseph Charles Fisher

The son of  Jacques Fisher and Sybil Jacobs Joe was born in 1922 in Newcastle.  He spent most of his years as a resident of Jesmond and Gosforth.   His father was a director of the family wholesale jewellery business in Newcastle. Between 1930 and 1936 Joe attended  the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle for his secondary education. Joe still lives in Gosforth now at the age of 98.

Joseph Fisher at Royal Grammar School (1930 -36)

Joseph has fond memories of the Royal Grammar School . “ My house was Horsley (blue). All the Jewish boys were herded during morning prayers into AW ‘Buggy’ corner of the Hall, only to be released in time for Assembly.

It was segregation of the worst kind. Would we all have collapsed if we had heard the word Christ? Mr Herdman whose room  was on the first floor most easterly corner, informed me that I spoke French with an Osborne Road accent! I recall running around the perimeter of the school playing field on a cold and wet winter afternoon…… was this PE or punishment? “

World War II

World War II broke out on 1 September 1939 and at some point thereafter Joe joined the Army spending time out in Burma. In 1946 after the end of the war he was sent back to England having contracted polio out East. The war had ended and Joe, just 23, was left paralysed down one side,  living in London, and not certain if he would ever be able to work again.

Determined not to let his condition get the better of  him, after 2-3 months of hard struggle, Joe gained work in a London Hotel.  He started going to meetings with the Infantile Paralysis Fellowship in London and became aware of how fortunate he was to have a supportive family and not be short of money. With continued ill health , Joe soon decided on a return home to Newcastle, where he was able to work in his family’s wholesale jewellery company .

Believing that people with Polio could and should work, Joe then began devoting his life to helping Polio sufferers start working again,  boosting their self-esteem and enabling them to earn a living.  After moving back to Newcastle, the Infantile Paralysis Fellowship asked Joe to organise  a branch in the North East. Thus began a 60 year’s partnership in which he was able to help change the lives of many Polio sufferers. 

The British Polio Fellowship

The British Polio Fellowship was founded in January 1939 originally as the “Infantile Paralysis Fellowship” . This original name for the organization reflecting the medical name used to define this pathological condition at the time. The prime aims of the new Fellowship were to bring together people who had been disabled by polio, their families, friends, and supporters, and to do all that was possible to assist people in improving their lives in the face of their disability.

A new Trust Deed was adopted on 17th April 1953 which, essentially, remains in force today. The 1953 Trust Deed appointed four trustees one of whom, Joe Fisher, is still active with the Fellowship today and was the founder of the Newcastle employment project


Woodlands Mews Jesmond
Photograph c Joe Fisher Woodlands Mews Jesmond

Starting in 1954 with a large donation of £13,000 from the Newcastle University Students Rag Appeal Joe Fisher obtained a house in Jesmond, Woodlands Mews ,  which was converted to provide a hostel and a centre for training.  Help was provided here for up to 20 polio victims at a time.  Where possible they were taught a trade and enabled to gain employment and earn their own living, from which they were asked to contribute towards their upkeep, living in this large house together. They thus gained a feeling of usefulness and increased personal esteem.

Article regarding the opening c Joe Fisher

Joe has said –

    “…. a lot of people were far less fortunate than me and couldn’t make much of a life for themselves or earn a living, but I felt that just because they couldn’t walk very well didn’t mean they couldn’t do something with their hands and their brains.   I wanted them to feel they were taking part. Very often, just a bit of TLC and understanding does wonders. Simple adaptations can make a huge difference to disabled people.”

“We brought people from all over to live at our purpose-built hostel with the intention of teaching them a trade. It was carrying on what I had always believed which is that these people were employable”

1954  Joe Fisher took a holiday trip to Sweden where he met Inga Olofsson and in the following year they were married. Inga already had a young son, Max,  by her previous husband and over the next few years Joe and Inga had 3 more children, 2 boys and a girl.   Simon, Sigrid and Martin.


Discovering Heritage
Newcastle Journal 18 May 1956
Fisher’s Jewellery Business now at 14,High Bridge, Newcastle



Joseph Fisher and his new Swedish wife Inga , decided to set up a retail business in Gosforth selling contemporary Swedish and Scandinavian glass, ceramics, jewellery and fancy goods. Thus ‘Lyktan’ was born at 59b, High Street in Gosforth occupying the shop which is now  the right hand half of Katherines Florists Shop. Here they also lowered the ceiling for better effect and this can still be seen today in the flower shop.  


Lyktan’s shop position outlined in red over a modern day photo. Credit David Wardell

Newcastle Evening Chronicle 16 March 1956
Newcastle Evening Chronicle 10 April 1959
Newcastle Evening Chronicle 6 March 1958
Phonebook 6 Causey Buildings High Street 1958


In 1961 as the business prospered Joe and Inga decided to move their shop to the city, at 96, Grey Street on the corner of  Shakespeare Street, to much more spacious and prestigious premises. which many older residents may recall.  The shop  was on the opposite corner to the old Theatre Royal Box Office.

Lytkan 96 Grey Street Newcastle Photo credit Max Fisher
  • inside photo of the Lyktan shop on Grey Street
  • Newspaper article Lytkan
  • News article photo Lytkan Swedish fabrics
  • Lytkan news article

 Kellys Directory 1968 Fisher Ltd., Now at 14 High Bridge     

Joseph Fisher (L) donating money from – ‘Chronicle Live’  see link 

World War Two veteran who dedicated his life to helping polio sufferers to receive MBE – Chronicle Live

At some time hereafter Joe and Inga went their separate ways and in 1974  Joseph  married again to – Christine V Swinhoe.


Joe marries Christine V Swinhoe

Joseph had two further children by Christine – Daniel Jacques and Mark William.  Daniel and his wife have two children Lola Grace & Scarlet Rose, Grandchildren for Joe and Christine.

Joseph Fisher and his wife Christine V Swinhoe
Newcastle Evening Chronicle 18 June 1979  
Fisher Ltd., 70 years of trading (by the Wholesale Company)

2015  Joe Fisher was awarded an MBE

for services to charity and the British Polio Fellowship, having worked tirelessly to change perceptions of disabled people in the North East, masterminding a Polio hostel and training centre in Jesmond in 1954.

Article link    World War Two veteran who dedicated his life to helping polio sufferers to receive MBE – Chronicle Live

New Year Honours 2015


Member (MBE)

Photos by kind permission of Joseph C Fisher

Joseph Charles Fisher.

For services to Charity especially the British Polio Fellowship. (Newcastle upon Tyne,

Joseph at home in his sitting room  (photo Newcastle Chronicle)

“  I proved what I set out to prove, that these people were employable  and should be able to work.”

Joe was a third generation of the Fisher family in England. Still living in Gosforth at age 98 Joe now suffers from Post-Polio Syndrome, a hangover from the disease which causes of polio sufferer’s health to deteriorate in later life. His family story stretches well back in to the mid 1800’s. ©David Wardell

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The Laidlaw Family of Brush Makers

Discovering Heritage Discovering, sharing and re-telling the stories of yesteryear!

The history of the Laidlaw family of brush makers in Newcastle spans one hundred and sixty-eight years. This article has highlighted an extremely brief section of the story, with association to Gosforth and Jesmond. The complete account written by David Wardell is available (with incredible detail and illustration) to read at the bottom of this page. David follows four generations of the family through the rise and fall of fortunes, times of tension when their land was taken for rail improvements at Manors and various business exploits as one would expect over such a long term. The story is accompanied by numerous news snippets which illuminate particular instances of the lives of individual family members deemed to be news worthy and set in print for us all to read.

David has generously made his full research available to everyone as a pdf which can be either read on this site or downloaded for your convenience.

The Laidlaw Family

This story begins around 1752 with Adam Laidlaw who was born in the town of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders. Adam became reverend Adam Laidlaw and moved with the church to St. James Chapel, Newcastle in 1785. St. James Chapel was near Grey’s Monument at the junction of Blackett Street and Grainger Street and later became the YMCA premises.

Rev. Adam Laidlaw married Mary Laidler on 8th May 1786 at All Saints Newcastle. The couple had six children.

Children of Rev. Adam Laidlaw & Mary Laidler 

William Laidlaw                     b. 11th Feb   1787

Adam Laidlaw                        b.   5th May 1788

Thomas Laidlaw                     b. 12th Nov  1789

John Whitfield Laidlaw          b. 16th Jul    1791

Robert Laidlaw                     b. 22nd Jun  1793

David Laidlaw                        b.   6th Jul    1798

Robert Laidlaw 1st Generation of Brush Makers in family  b. 22nd June  1793

Robert is the person with whom the Laidlaw Brush Company started. He would have undertaken an apprenticeship in his mid teens or even earlier and this would have lasted for seven years when he would have become a Journeyman Brush maker around the age of 20-22 yrs.  Perhaps around 1815.

Robert Laidlaw married Mary Ann Dunford, the couple had seven children. Among them were, Adam Laidlaw, born October 1825 and Robert E Laidlaw born 1837.

In the 1851 census we find Robert and his wife Mary Ann living at 9, Oxford Street, Newcastle. Adam is now 25 years old and is a clerk and traveler, possibly for his father’s brush company which now employs 27 men. Robert E. Laidlaw, age 16,  is apprenticed to a hardware man.

Adam & Robert Laidlaw 2nd Generation Brush Makers

1856 Adam and Robert Errington Laidlaw assume control of the Laidlaw Brush Manufacturing Company in partnership after the death of their father Robert. This partnership became apparent at a later time when it was dissolved.

Adam (2nd generation) married Hannah Gibson the couple had seven children including Robert Babington Laidlaw born 1866. (D. 1928) Detailed information about Robert Errington Laidlaw and Adam Laidlaw is included in the full history at the bottom of this page.

Newcastle Daily Chronicle 30th September 1890 carries the notice of Adam’s death aged 64. At this time Adam was living at 7, Eslington Terrace Jesmond. The internment was at Jesmond Old Cemetery on 30th September 1890 at 11.30.

Robert Babington Laidlaw 3rd Generation Brush Makers

By 1901 Robert Babington Laidlaw 3rd generation brush maker in the Laidlaw family is living at ‘Glen Farg’ on Linden Road in Gosforth with his wife Robina and their small son Roland Babington Laidlaw who is ten months old. There is a nurse / housemaid, Mary Cole, living in with them. A second son Robert Anthony was born about 1902.

Newcastle Journal 21 February 1928 records the death of Robert Babington Laidlaw in a nursing home on 20th February 1928. The internment was at Jesmond Old Cemetery at 2.30 p.m.

Roland & Robert Anthony Laidlaw  4th Generation Brush Makers

Roland Babington Laidlaw b.13 Jun 1900  Newcastle  d. 23 Feb 1986 Newcastle

Robert Anthony (Tony) Babington Laidlaw b.abt.1902 Newcastle d. 6th January 1968 Newcastle

Following their father’s death Roland and Tony Laidlaw became joint proprietors of Robert Laidlaw & Sons.  Their father had been the sole proprietor of the company. This entry in the 1945 telephone directory shows Laidlaw’s Home and Garden Ltd are trading from 145 High Street Gosforth.

Quote about Tony Laidlaw from a friend

“ Robert Anthony Babington Laidlaw, or Tony Laidlaw, was a well-built gentleman who liked his beer. He used to drink quite a bit in the Brandling Villa along with Frank Nettleton, Chris Billetop, and a couple of other businessmen. He also spent a lot of time at Northern Rugby Club.  He lived at 23 Regent Road Gosforth.  His older brother was Roland. They owned a brush factory on Glasshouse Street, off City Road.   Tony and Roland both ran the shop on Gosforth High Street and the factory on City Road in a very much hands on way“

Photo credit James P Deans

“ghost sign” at Algernon Road Byker / Shields Road, Byker

Robert Laidlaw & Son – Brush and Mop Manufacturer and Dealer

Ghost Sign Byker.jpg | Robert Laidlaw & Sons Brush Manufactu… | Flickr

Laidlaw’s Shop on Gosforth High Street

Next to Northern Rock on Gosforth High Street with NatWest Bank just beyond was Laidlaw’s Home and Garden Shop, selling brushes, hardware, wallpaper, paints & gardening requisites. It was a small competition for the longstanding Thorpe’s Hardware opposite and the only wallpaper source on the High Street. In those days, wallpaper came with a protective edging on both sides of the sheet known as the selvedge. Once you had chosen your paper, for a small fee, the shop would remove this edging on a little hand-operated rolling machine with two cutting wheels on either side. Since they had to roll right through by hand, you had to leave your paper with them for a day or two longer while this was done. A fascinating process to watch for a small boy, with the selvedge streaming off the sides of the roll in a continuous ribbon.

Memories Of Gosforth High Street (part 3) Mentioning Laidlaw’s shop.

Deaths & Probate for Anthony & Roland Laidlaw

Anthony Laidlaw died 6th January 1968.  Probate 6th March 1968.

Anthony Laidlaw met with a terrible accident  from which he died after a bad fall in Crag Hall Dene, Newcastle. He had lain at the foot of a cliff for some 14 hours and was found by three children who raised the alarm. He died two days later in the RVI.  It was not known why he was there and various ideas were suggested, such as an accidental fall,  a fall due to inebriation or perhaps an attack.

Roland Babington Laidlaw died 23rd February 1986. Probate 23 February 1986.

Tel. Directory 1977 

Last directory entry showing  Gosforth High Street Shop

Read The Full Account of David’s Research

Four Full Generations Of The Laidlaw Family

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My Scottish Townhouse Story

My Scottish Townhouse Story Portrait a3 poster ©Discovering Heritage

My Scottish Townhouse Story offers a unique way to add an extraordinary hallmark to your house. Our specialist archival research displayed with an elegantly designed illustration of your property offers a link to history that allows you to travel back through the years and view your house alongside the residents of yesteryear.

Do you hold your Scottish heritage close to your heart?

We all love the famous stories that run through Scottish history; the colourful characters who were brandishing fervour in the fight for justice throughout a historical landscape that rose and fell with the lives of its inhabitants.

Who were these inhabitants, and where did they live?

Descendants of Scottish heroes built the cities and townhouses of Scotland. Their lives have become interwoven in the fabric of Scottish history. Discovering the history of your house can uncover some interesting stories!

Who Lived In My House?

39 North Castle Street Edinburgh. 1801 – 1826

Today this charming property is split into city apartments—the property boasts at least one famous Scottish resident. 

My Scottish Townhouse Story Sir Walter Scotts residence Edinburgh ©Discovering Heritage

Sir Walter Scott

In the autumn of 1801, Sir Walter Scott became a tenant of this house, described as being in Edinburgh’s new town. By Whit – Sunday 1802 Scott had purchased the property for £850 cash + £950 bond. He lived at this residence until 1826 when the house was sold to aid his financial situation.

Imagine sharing a resident legacy with such a prominent Scottish author! 

By researching records and publications, we can add details that bring the history of your house to life. During our research for this article, we came across an entry in a book describing Walers Scott’s frustration on moving into the premises in 1801. Finding the painters and workmen had made the place almost uninhabitable!  

“To augment this confusion my wife has fixed upon this time as proper to present me with a fine chopping boy, whose pipe, being of the shrillest, is heard amid the storm, like a boatswain’s whistle in a gale of wind.”

Walter Scott His Life and Personality Hesketh Pearson.

This property on North Castle Street was also the subject of a pen and ink drawing by Turner. Such a provenance!

House histories can connect you to a heritage you never knew existed.

My Scottish Townhouse Story Ann Street house ©Discovering Heritage

44, Ann Street Edinburgh 1823 – 1915

 Ann Street was described by Sir John Betjeman as

” The most attractive street in Britain.”

44 Ann Street was designed by the Scottish painter Sir Henry Raeburn with the architect James Milne. The house was completed in 1823, and the street was named after Henry Raeburn’s wife, Ann. Ann Street was also one of the first streets in Edinburgh’s New Town to be designed with private front gardens.

This beautiful townhouse has a legacy of residents; we have looked at a few dating from 1823 to 1915, including a banker, a commissions agent, a teacher and a silk mercer with attending live-in servants.

Tracing Property History

From 1617 the movement of property in Scotland from the humble croft, townhouse, or stately castle was legally recorded and traceable.

In 1617 The Registration Act (General Register of Sasines) was passed under King James VI. A sasine in Scottish law is defined as the delivery of feudal property, typically land. In this sense, feudal property means immovable property, including buildings, trees, and underground minerals. 

The original act underwent several adaptations. Finally, 2002 witnessed the last legal ceremony of Sansine. And in 2007, Automated Registration of Title to Land (ARTL) allowed people to register their title deeds online. 

My Scottish Townhouse Story

We can uncover your unique heritage with archival research to find the story of your own house.

My Scottish Townhouse Story is a bespoke illustration featuring a colour drawing of your house alongside a potted history highlighting its individual legacy.

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Memories of Gosforth High Street 1950 Onwards (part 5)

Discovering Heritage photo header County Gosforth

Discovering Heritage are a team of specialist historical researchers with expertise in researching local history and residential history. As part of our community outreach we share some of our research and invite guests to post on our blog.

Welcome to the fifth and final part of David’s Memories of Gosforth High Street. We would like to thank David for sharing his research with us so we can in turn share it with you. Like you we have enjoyed reading his posts and have looked forward immensely to sharing them; we can appreciate the hours of work that have been spent bringing this collection together! We invite you to share any of our posts with relevant sites (share buttons are located in the footer) and would urge the practice of including a credit to the author/site and links where appropriate.

We begin where we left off in David’s last post at Brough’s.

Walking past Brough’s there was a low wall with a small garden where the Colliery Offices were housed in Hanover House,  which was set back from the High Street. Another coal merchant’s I believe. This now brings us to a small lane and the Old Lloyds Bank with its mahogany counters behind where the tellers would sit without all the modern glass screens and security that we know of today. (Now rebuilt as part of the Gosforth Centre).

The side lane snaked round behind the bank in to St. Nicholas’ Avenue across the side of H.G.Robinsons Motor Dealer’s Showroom who had their premises extending right back to the gates of the Central Park, on two levels, selling Volkswagen cars. Crossing St. Nicholas’ Avenue we reach Sculpher’s shoe shop later to be Peter Lord  and  Clarks Shoes  and until recently Thomas Cook Travel. As kids we loved coming here for our new shoes. Our parents being chiropodists insisted on well fitting quality shoes which usually indicated Clark’s. Of course what could be better than watching your feet in the X ray machine. Quite a novelty for kids in those days looking down at the bones of your feet inside the shoes displayed in beautiful green colour.  The current Thomas Cook shop has now closed.

Thorpe’s Hardware and Ironmongery

Next door we find the Electricity Company (now Oxfam) and then the Gas Board showrooms. This latter shop was later subsumed in to Thorpe’s Hardware & Ironmongery  who were just one shop further along.  Thorpe’s (1947) is one of the longest established family businesses remaining on the High Street although taken in to different ownership in the last couple of years,  it still remains much the same. ’If it ain’t broke don’t fix it ‘ as they say.

Like many shops of this ilk they used to repair the old valve radios as well. The original shop was quite small by current standards but was doubled in width and opened up towards the rear to develop the shop as it is today. I can recall my father, being somewhat distrustful , marking with a pencil all the valves in a radio set when he took it for repair. Radio repair shops were renowned for charging for new valves that they claimed to have replaced…but hadn’t done so.  Whether this was actually a fact or just a general belief I’m not really sure. Next door to Thorpes was Tilley’s The Baker’s who also had a small café / restaurant business up above. Carrick’s Baker’s  later moved here from the corner of Hawthorn Road, but this is now TUI Travel (recently closed.).  Moving on beyond Carrick’s we reach Harton Cleaners later   Johnson Dry Cleaners. I am convinced that this was once Whites of Jesmond for a time. A cheese monger who previously had a shop opposite on the High St. However I can find no evidence of this in records. Then came the Coal Board Office next to Woolworth’s which was later Berry’s Hairdressers.  We’ve now reached Woolworths. One of the largest shops at that time and housed in what were possibly premises specially built for them around 1941 when they first appear in the phonebooks but probably built pre war.


Photograph Link

Woolworth’s had large low counters staffed commonly by young girls who would no doubt come as cheap labour.  A vast miscellaneous range of goods could be found here as well as some basic canned foods at the back of the shop. Later renowned for their pic-and-mix sweets the shop had low counters that were a temptation to young children and I can remember that some were severely admonished or even expelled from school for shoplifting. 

Lots of inexpensive items and toys could be obtained here. Very popular were the Airfix model aeroplane kits which could become a nightmare to put together, as parts were not always accurately made and their fit was sometimes awkward. Most kids ended up with hands covered in aeroplane glue with its strong smell of acetone.  Woolworths also stocked yet a further ice cream brand, Midland Counties. Did we really eat that much ice cream in those days  I wonder!    Especially when money was tighter.  Their ice cream was not rectangular like others, but came as a small cylinder of ice cream enclosed in a circle of cardboard. When unwrapped this fitted very nicely in to a circular cornet, it just needed a firm push to get it to stick in place often resulting in splitting the cornet.. 

After Woolworth’s came Archie Mclean Brown’s , an Electricians shop. He was followed here by Anthony Donald’s, The Rocket Shop, which evolved in to The 2 W’s (menswear)  and later became Greenwoods Menswear and it is now Flowercraft . I lived opposite Anthony Donald and his wife at that time so knew their family quite well..

These shops from this point to the County Pub were single storey premises,  behind which lay some earlier large houses.

These houses were Roxburghe House North , Roxburghe House South , Gosforth Villa and Thornfield . The two in bold type were demolished in the 70’s to make way for the car park. Roxburgh House North was reached by an arched wrought iron gateway just after Archie Mclean Brown’s shop and was the dental surgery of Spence and Hutchinson, and my dentist. I recall going here for some extractions with gas when I was about seven, the anesthetist suffered from total alopecia (lack of any hair), wore a rather obvious ginger wig and was endowed with a cleft lip and palate rendering his speech somewhat difficult to follow. For a small child it was rather frightening but he was actually a very nice person who I encountered again in later years at University. The surgery is now Adriano’s Italian Restaurant and next door but one on the corner of the back lane that now leads to the car park was the L & N grocery store later to become  Punshon’s Newsagents and  then Johns News, followed by  AM News and  it’s now Adriano’s Delicatessen.   Across the back lane here we reach the Hadrian Supply Co., yet another grocer’s,  later becoming The Maypole Grocers  and then D& P Photographic.    On the end of this block of shops was  Swinton-Wood the photographers and today a Chinese take away restaurant. 

Punshons Newsagents


Murder Mayhem and Gosforth

We have now reached The County Pub. All the property beyond here is residential, the first one containing the building that was the Old Gosforth Jail many moons ago and one commemorating Merz and McClellan, the last being on  The Grove with the Doctor’s surgery on the corner and Midland Bank on the opposite corner in it’s own purpose built premises. Now yet another an Estate Agent.

Grove Garage

The only remaining premises to mention here was The Grove Garage owned by James Woodhall who also ran the Laundrette at the North West end of the High Street just before Landsdowne Terrace West , and now Pizza Hut..

The Grove Garage had stood there since being built in 1925 for Detchon and Fletcher as the Westfield Garage.  In my childhood days it was an old fashioned garage that serviced and repaired motor vehicles having a hydraulic hoist inside to raise them up for inspection.  Before it was later remodelled,  the whole site was completely enclosed with it’s walls extending back totally to the lane at the rear of Roseworth Avenue.  At the front,  on the High Street there was a small drive in forecourt with several different branded petrol pumps and a further two pumps at the garage side entrance. Within this forecourt was a tiny showroom that held just one or two second hand cars for sale. For such a small garage it was surprising how many types of petrol they sold with Esso, National Benzole, BP, Power, Cleveland, Shell all being represented and probably all supplied from same two basic storage tanks. Other second hand cars were often displayed on the open forecourt on Roseworth Avenue. Mechanics Eric andFred became well known to us kids & later also Arthur who subsequently moved to Dinnington, Autotune Garage.

The Garage changed hand’s in 1975/76 and was renamed The Dukesmoor Garage (coupled with a Garage of the same name on Kenton Rd) and was converted to an open sided drive through filling station.  It has since been rebuilt, retaining the original façade, which I believe is listed , and was a branch of Carphone Warehouse until 2018 when it closed and ultimately re-opened as a solicitor’s office in 2019. 

Older residents in Gosforth have recalled going upstairs at the garage to watch silent movies projected onto a white sheet in the storage area of the premises. Apparently one of the first places to show moving pictures in the area as mentioned in the local brochure depicted here.

Mr Bohill

Beyond the garage are  residential properties, however at the Southernmost end I cannot leave out the Sunday Papers Seller.   Each Sunday a local man, Mr. Bohill, a jobbing plumber I seem to recall called Tom, would set up his newspaper stall in the small seating area outside the garden wall belonging to the last house on the High Street [i.e. South Court]. He would arrive each Sunday, quite early, with his ‘gear’ on a barrow (in later years in his car), and would offload several large wooden boxes, probably orange boxes, some poles, canvas sheets and some rope which he then turned in to a stall with his boxes arranged like a series of pigeon holes on the park bench that was provided there. He would then create a tented cover over this stall and await the arrival of the newspaper delivery that he had ordered. Very many of the local people and quite a few passing motorists would buy their Sunday papers from Mr. Bohill who stood on this corner for a great many years.

We have now reached the very end of our return journey along the Village.

This work is copyright and may not be reproduced in part or in whole without permission of the author.  Many of the pictures and illustrations may be copyright elsewhere and should not be published anywhere without checking copyright details. ©David Wardell

Catch up with David’s journey through Gosforth High Street

Spot your street in 1920s Newcastle

Image its the 1920s! The end of WW1, shorter skirts for women, comics were published weekly, hand made furniture was the norm and not everyone had an indoor loo! Here is a chance to see if you can find your street in the 1920s.

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Memories of Gosforth High Street! (part 4)

Discovering Heritage header of Gosforth Central Hall 1949

Discovering Heritage are a team of specialist historical researchers with expertise in researching local history and residential history. As part of our community outreach we share some of our research through this blog.

Back by popular demand! Memories of Gosforth High Street from the Royalty Cinema to Brough’s The Grocers. Join us once more as we walk with David Wardell along 1950’s Gosforth High Street heading south.

Our return journey Southwards now starts at the Royalty Cinema . Children of all ages would happily gather here on a Saturday morning for the Kid’s Matinee.  Commonly a cartoon and a Western. It was fairly cheap to get in and as long as you didn’t buy sweets from the Kiosk was an economical mornings entertainment. For the more affluent kids choc bars and Lyons Orange Maid Lollies or perhaps a small tub of ice cream with a spoon could be purchased in the intermission when “The Lyons Maid will visit all parts of the theatre” as the advert would tell us. She seldom left her standing position at the very front however.  Sitting in the circle area was very popular, especially with older children, where they could drop papers and apple cores etc. over on to the heads of the children in the stalls. The really bad ones would even spit.  Sadly the Royalty closed down on 30th December 1981 with a Disney double bill of “Dumbo” and “The Incredible Journey”, to make way for sheltered housing , Homedowne House.

Royalty Cinema Discovering Heritage with David Wardell
Royalty Cinema

Leaving the Cinema behind us  we pass The Council Buildings and the archway leading to the old Gosforth Fire Station . The fire brigade have now long since disappeared to Jubilee Road with much better premises for their purpose but at that time reversing the larger more modern fire engines in to these old premises, under the archway from off the High Street, must have been quite an art, since they barely fitted the space available.

The Old Fire Station at Goasforth, Gosforth Heritage
Gosforth Fire Station

Gosforth Old Fire Station

Immediately beyond the fire station, at no.232 , originally a tripe shop in very early times, was, until at least 1956,  H.W.Sterling, a Newsagent, tobacconist and sweet shop. Here we children once again had this shop earmarked as where we could get a cheap treat. Sterling’s made their own ice lollies, which were just 1d each (less than ½ p in modern money). What a bargain!  They came unwrapped, pulled out of a big tray of conical lolly moulds. Now following it’s rebirth after a more recent fire this shop is the New New Bengal Indian restaurant. A couple of doors on was Bob Youngs Fish and Chip shop.  There since pre WW11 it had been a chip shop since much earlier times under the name of  H Robinson’s. Always known as Bob Youngs in my era even after it had later changed hands and was run by the Laws Family it eventual became Chip Stop and then The Gosforth Chippy. In those days you could get a bag of chips for 3d and fish and chips for 1/6d and for hungry kids who couldn’t afford these great prices, a bag of batter or ‘scraps’  could be begged for a 1d. This was perhaps the only source of take away food at that time. Burgers didn’t arrive until the mid 60’s with Wimpy Restaurants, and pizza came somewhat later. Chinese and Indian restaurants were rare and small and mostly confined to the City Centres.   Macdonalds and KFC came very much later at the end of the 70’s and didn’t reach the North East for several more years.

Beyond here was perhaps a butchers shop and then on the corner of Church Road for a time was Henderson’s Greengrocers.

Crossing over Church Road and just beyond the Queen Victoria Pub we find The Toy Cupboard on a corner where Robertson’s, Photographic Retailers now reside.  The Toy Cupboard was a fair walk from my house and with so many other shops to choose from we rarely wandered this far afield but this was where we could obtain Jokes and novelties much loved by mischievous little boys. In great favour always were Stink Bombs and Cap Bombs .

The latter were like a small plastic rocket with a metal spring loaded plunger at the tip. Removing the end cover you were able to place a ‘cap’ inside (such as were used in toy cap guns)  When thrown,  it would be detonated by the plunger on landing, hopefully, creating a small bang. (they didn’t always work as intended). An earlier incarnation of the cap bomb was like a small cast metal aeroplane in two parts held together by two rubber bands around the wings. These were a much more reliable option.  Because of these two novelties the shop was christened The Bomb Shop and was known as such thereafter (at least among my range of friends and acquaintances –  if not all the kids of Gosforth).

Even better were fireworks, available freely to children at that time from many outlets. 1d Bangers and jumping jacks being especially desirable which being lit could be thrown down and cause considerable alarm amongst others in addition to being more dangerous than we realised. I well recall the jumping jacks being thrown among the crowd by students on the Rag Parade Floats each year in the town. 

Less familiar with the shops at this end of the High Street my next recollection past the Blacksmith’s Arms is Barry Noble’s Greengrocery which later was to become Cummings Radio Engineer around 1956. Mr. Cummings  was well known partly because he was very short in stature being only about 4’10” high. A really nice man who I later got to know when he had an allotment at Beaumont Terrace. His shop eventually was to become Ladbroke’s the Bookmakers jointly with the premises beyond, which had been a Wine Market Shop.

Moving on over the back lane beside the Earl Grey were two shops together just before the Brandling Arms. One became a Discount shop in the 70’s and I think before this it had been a milliner called Babette, and the other was Brooks The Grocer’s which evolved in to Smith’s Furniture, later Regnart’s Carpets, eventually both shops being joined to form the Halifax Building Society (Bank) . Passing by the Brandling Arms came many more shops , now long demolished to make way for the Shopping Centre in the 70’s. 

Robson Porteous

The first of these was Radio Rentals who later moved in to the Gosforth Centre. Next door we encounter Robson and Porteous, yet another bakery.   Robson and Porteous were very popular and produced a good range of breads and cakes with a fabulous aroma of baking in the shop. They sold the best cream and custard slices,  choc eclairs and custard tarts. These were all huge compared to the produce from Smyths, a little further along , which were small and delicate and produced for quite a different more genteel market.. Two very different shops both selling great products but at different edges of the spectrum. I think Robson & Porteous also had a shop on Station Road at South Gosforth.

John Mood Gosforth High Street Discovering Heritage blog

At this point we’ve now reached Mood’s Stationer’s and Fancy Goods shop. Mood’s was on two floors with most stationery being on the ground floor while upstairs there was a selection of fancy goods, glass and china objects and ornaments. If you went upstairs perhaps to look for a gift you were soon followed by a member of staff to ‘assist you’ , but I suppose really to keep a wary eye on you.

Moods Stationers

Next to come was Arkle’s the Butcher’s  with Hendersons’s Greengrocers beyond on the corner of the back  lane. Mrs. Henderson ran the fruit shop and as I recall Mr. George Henderson, her husband, was an accountant practicing from upstairs.

Gosforth Central Hall

Gosforth Central Hall Stage performance "Wot Cheor, Geordie" 8th Nov1949
Gosforth Central Hall 1949

“The radio broadcast of “Wot Cheor, Geordie” on 8th November 1949from the newly-opened Central Hall which stood on the site of the Gosforth Shopping Precinct. Central Hall was adapted from the old building which had been used by the ARP headquarters during the Second World War and the Hall was built through public subscription as a memorial to the people of Gosforth who had served in that war. The plaque recording the names of the fallen was originally in the Hall but is now in the entrance of the Civic Hall, Regent Farm Road.” ©City Libraries

This was the back lane that ran up to the old Central Hall, a civic hall which also had a stage opening out in to the Central Park where open air performances were held. I remember watching an outdoor  performance here of the popular radio program  ‘Watcha Geordie’ produced by Dick Kelly , from within the park. There were many other performances, very often for children on a Saturday , based on a Go As You Please format where kids would get up on stage to ‘Strut their Stuff.

Back on the High Street and across the lane we have now reached Smyth’s The Baker’s who also had a shop in Newcastle’s Saville Row.  Smyth’s were the Higher class end of bakery shops, producing small and dainty cakes such as strawberry tarts (in season) and peach and pineapple  melbas and other such delights as well as a range of breads and buns and again some dainty bread buns known as bridge rolls perhaps for the those wealthier ladies who entertained their friends with bridge parties. It was also from Smyth’s that I first encountered a pizza.  These were quite small as was typical of the firm, being only about six inches in diameter and covered just with cheese and a tomato sauce base, basically a margherita with a couple of anchovies on the top (almost unheard of then). I always picked these fishy abominations off, not caring for strong fishy tastes very much.

There were one or two further small shops and then we came to a slightly bigger double fronted shop which was Brough’s The Grocer.  Brough’s were part of a small local chain of grocer’s and like Law’s Stores were prominent in the early days of Self Service shops. 

This work is copyright and may not be reproduced in part or in whole without permission of the author.  Many of the pictures and illustrations may be copyright elsewhere and should not be published anywhere without checking copyright details. ©David Wardell.

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Bells, Boats and Councillors The Story of Fawdon House aka The Northumbrian Piper – Nichol Morton

Fawdon Hall Newcastle Libraries - Discovering Heritage blog post

Another BBC Production

We were delighted to receive the following message from Nichol Morton


“Hi thought you might like this post about a house in Gosforth I put together for a local history FB group.”

Discovering Heritage

Hi Nichol – yes we do like this We are always looking for guests to post on our blog, would you fancy sharing this? Really enjoyed reading it.”


Yes, it’s my Xmas gift to you for all the interesting stuff you’ve put out over the year.

So here we are already at April and really excited to be able to share Nichol’s article on our website!

I do love when a snippet of information leads you on a journey of discovery, and you learn something new about a property in Newcastle that you thought you knew.

The Grey Lady of Fawdon Hall

A lady from Ibiza posted a query on a local history FB group. Her great uncle Vince was a landlord of the Northumbrian Piper, in Red House Farm next to Fawdon. When she was young and stayed there for a holiday, she stated that she had seen a ghost! A lady in white dressed in old clothes and with an old fashioned parasol, and wondered if anyone knew anything more or had she just imagined it all? Several regulars replied that they hadn’t heard of anything. However after a bit of digging around I found out that The Piper had previously been a property called Fawdon House or Hall and there was indeed a ghost attached to it called the Grey Lady!

A Potted History of the Occupants of Fawdon House

A bit more digging revealed some interesting stories of the occupants of Fawdon House, so here’s a potted history of them.

Mathew Bell 1793-1871

Honest Matty, his gt grandfather, also Matthew Bell, of Mersington Berwickshire became a Newcastle draper. Through a series of marriages with good families including the Ridleys of Blagdon, the Loraines of Kirkharle and Walsinghams, the Bells had risen in the world. Matthew’s own father had married Sarah Frances, daughter of Charles Brandling of Gosforth, and his uncle was Charles Brandling MP.

Matthew was educated at Eton, then Christ Church Oxford. The family home was Woolsington Hall and Matthew inherited it at 21 his father dying in 1811. He also became one of the “Great Northern Coal Owners” at the same time. He became Sheriff of Newcastle at 23 and married at 25. In 1826 he took command of the Northumberland Hussars, previously commanded by his uncle Charles Brandling who had died in January that year, and also stood for his seat in Parliament. He later transferred to being MP for the newly created South Northumberland constituency 1832 – 1852.

He built Fawdon House in 1848 allegedly as a dower house, presumably for his mother Sarah who died in 1866.

After Sarah’s death Fawdon House was let out see advert below.

The property was halfway between Woolsington and Gosforth Park. Matthew died in 1871 and the house’s ownership passed through a brother then nephew of the Bell family then the Watsons. Woolsington Hall was sold in 1923 and presumably Fawdon House shortly after that.

Fawdon House shown as Bell House

Other houses we have researched

Sanderson Hospital

Coxlodge Hall

Sandyford Park

Captain Herbert Babington Robin Rowell

Captain Herbert Babington Robin Rowell 1894-1981 Shipbuilder

Owned Fawdon House 1929-49

Born in Hebburn on 28th May 1894, educated at Repton School and City and Guilds Engineering College, University of London. In 1911 his family were living at Cleugh Brae, Jesmond Park East, his father Herbert was was a shipbuilder and his mother was Mary Dobree (Robin).

He began an apprenticeship with shipbuilders Hawthorne, Leslie and Co of Hebburn in 1912.
On WW1 commencing, he joined the Royal Engineers in 1915, but then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, also in 1915, and served in UK with 1 Reserve Aeroplane Sqn. Then with the BEF in France with 8 and 12 Sqns, 1915-1916. Made Captain in 1916 his family were now living at Manor House Jesmond. Immediately after the war he worked as experimental pilot for the Aircraft Directorate, and later Designs Department of the Air Board, [1918-1921].

He carried out the first tests on man-dropping parachutes from an aeroplane! A brave man!

He also designed the necessary casting-off gear. Later he returned to shipbuilding and joined the staff of Alfred Holt and Company, where he was involved in repairing and reconditioning company ships. He rejoined Hawthorne, Leslie and Company, becoming a director in 1922. He then married Hilda Dobell in Cheshire in 1924. He became Managing Director in 1936 then the Vice Chairman of the Shipbuilders Employers Federation in Nov 1939. During 1939-45 Hawthorne Leslie launched 55 ships, 42 warships including HMS Kelly and 13 merchant marine ships.

Rowell , as head of Hawthorne Leslie, presenting a bouquet of flowers to a Wren Officer at a launch on 13th April 1945 at the yard in Hebburn. Photo from the Imperial War Museum.

In 1945 he was made one of 6 Deputy Lieutenants for Co Durham and left Fawdon House in 1949. He would serve as chairman of Hawthorn Leslie 1943-1965 appearing regularly in the local newspapers. In 1968 the Company’s interests were merged with Swan Hunter.

He died on 19th Dec 1981 at Wylam Cottage, Wylam leaving an estate of £189k.

Robert Mould-Graham

Robert Mould-Graham 1894-1979
Councillor and Lord Mayor of Newcastle

Owned Fawdon House 1949-68

Born on 11 Dec 1895 in Elswick to a chemist father Joseph Graham from York and his wife Annie. In 1901 they were living at Cambridge St then in 1911 Kenilworth Rd, with his father unemployed at the time. He was serving his articles as a chartered accountant when war broke out. He joined up in 1915 and received a commission after a stint with the Officer Training Corps.

A genuine war hero he receives the Military Cross for his actions at Le Cateau with the Northumbrian Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery

This was a Territorial Army brigade and he also received a Territorial Decoration allowing him to use the initials TD after his name. As well as accountancy ( He was a partner in the firm Graham, Proom, Smith) he became involved in local politics. He served Elswick as a councillor in 1933. In 1937 he was a widower with a 10yr old daughter.

He would marry for a second time that year to the remarkable Jocelyn EK Saunders. Born in Dublin 11th Oct 1911 and raised by grandparents in Fitzwilliam Square Dublin until the age of 10. Her father was a naval officer and her mother suffered from arthritis. She moved to Cerne Abbas in Dorset in 1921, learning to sail and ride. She also learnt to fence and was shortlisted for the British Olympics Fencing Team in 1928. She met Thomas Hardy on his walks, a wood nearby was a setting in Tess of the D’Urbevilles. She lost her mother and grandparents by 1935, trained as a political agent and was sent north to Newcastle where she met Robert.

In 1939 they were living at Causey House, Elmfield Rd Gosforth. Robert went off to war again with the Artillery serving right through the war in Dunkirk, North Africa and Salerno, leaving behind us daughter 12 and a newborn child Joanna. He returned in 1945 with an OBE. In the December he stood for Arthur’s Hill Ward for the Progressive Party. They had 2 more children 1947-9. In 1954 he became Lord Mayor of Newcastle and Jocelyn his Mayoress.

Despite having heart problems brought on by the war and an 80 a day John Players cigarette habit he worked until 1966. His wife had inherited a manor in Alton Pancras in Dorset in 1955 and they retired there, finally selling the house and grounds in 1968 to S&N and the land now divided by a main road.

Robert died and was buried in Dorset on the 3rd February 1979 aged 85. His wife Jocelyn died aged 101 in a Dorchester care home in Sept 2013.

S&N opened the Northumbrian Piper in 1968 with the Duke of Northumberland’s official piper Jack Armstrong playing. His portrait was placed on the first pub sign for the Piper.

Duke of Northumberland’s piper Jack Armstrong who opened the Northumbrian Piper in 1969

Jack Armstrong (1904 – 1978) was an authoritative and influential performer on the Northumbrian smallpipes. Born in Wideopen, North Tyneside, five miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne, in 1904. He and his father, both coal miners, worked at Dinnington colliery, but Jack managed to get a job as a chauffeur shortly after World War I.

In 1926 Jack married, and he was living at Skipton in North Yorkshire when he taught himself to play the pipes. His style, influenced by his father’s playing, was steady and controlled; he favoured slow airs, which he played on a set of pipes with a rich, resonant tone. This style was in strong contrast to the faster, more virtuosic playing of Tom Clough and his followers, exemplified by Jack’s friend and contemporary, Billy Pigg. His repertoire consisted largely of simple dance tunes and slow airs, from Northumberland and elsewhere, the latter often being given local titles. He also composed some tunes in traditional style, some of which are still played.In 1948 Jack was made official piper to the Duke of Northumberland. He held this post for many years, retiring in 1971.

So there we have it, a tour round the byways of Newcastle and one house in particular with interesting owners from a snippet of information. Isn’t history wonderful? ©Nichol Morton

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Memories of Gosforth High Street 1950 onwards (Part 3)

Gosforth High Street Old Tramway Buuilding Discovering Heritrage

Discovering Heritage are a team of specialist historical researchers with expertise in researching local and residential history. We are currently researching and curating historical stories of Gosforth and Jesmond. It is our mission to connect as many people as possible to their personal heritage through local history and House Histories.

Join us in part three of David’s memories of Gosforth High Street as we set off from where we left off in the last post outside Wilkinson’s grocer shop.

After Wilkinson’s, we come to the Co-op Pharmacy, already mentioned above. This today is San Lorenzo’s Italian restaurant and next door, now Pizza Express was Bookless’, a fruiterer and greengrocers shop, but not at this shop until the end of the 60’s when the manageress was Miss. Vera Wilson, a lovely old lady. Two doors on was Mr J.Duncan Campbell’s Drapers & Haberdashery Shop, double fronted with walk-in window areas for display. Mr Campbell was a very ‘proper’ gentleman, possibly assuming this persona since he dealt a lot with the ladies’ it’s now Santander Bank. Moving on to 133, we reach the earlier Bookless Greengrocer’s who were here until 1969 when they moved South; it’s now Greggs, the Bakers.

The Maypole, chain grocers, came next, until the mid-’50s, now the home of King and Wood Opticians and then we reach Northern Rock Building Society. Passed The Rock was a larger shop, Laidlaw’s Home and Garden Shop, selling hardware, wallpaper, paints & gardening requisites. An interesting shop and competition for the longstanding Thorpe’s Hardware opposite and the only wallpaper source on the High Street. In those days, wallpaper came with a protective edging on both sides of the sheet known as the selvedge. Once you had chosen your paper, for a small fee, the shop would remove this edging on a little hand-operated rolling machine with two cutting wheels on either side. Since they had to roll right through by hand, you had to leave your paper with them for a day or two longer while this was done. A fascinating process to watch for a small boy, with the selvedge streaming off the sides of the roll in a continuous ribbon. Since the lady assistant (she may have been the owner/manager’s wife) was a patient of Father’s, yet another discount was available. This shop has now been Dawson’s Travel for some years.

Toddle Inn Cafe

A place of rest for some, we have now come to The Toddle Inn Café and coffee bar, which was here until about 1966/67 and very much a place of the time and magnet for teenagers and young adults. Pepsi or Coca Cola, ice cream floats, espresso coffee from a proper espresso machine, with tall chrome handles that were pulled down during the brewing process and Pyrex glass cups /saucers were used here, so iconic of the late 50’s early ’60s, and Coke was almost always drunk with a long straw from the traditional waisted bottles.

Here you could also buy a single Woodbine or Domino cigarette taken from a small glass at the rear of the counter where they were kept. The café owner was Joe Seery, who also owned the ice cream kiosk in The Central Park, beside the tennis courts – now long gone. He had another shop off Church Rd. at 2, Hyde Terrace. (a Grocer & Fruiterer). It was said they also had a crisp making business though I am unsure where this would have been. Now, the café long departed, it’s the National Westminster Bank.

An unusual use for a lavatory seat!

Comment from Joe Seery

“I did run The Toddle Inn Café for some years, when my father and mother went into the Antiques business and I did man the ice cream kiosk in Central Park” at times when not at school.

The crisp making, by my father, was done at 2 Hyde Terrace.

While managing the Toddle Inn, an old gent Tom, who had had a hard laboring life, but a good one, told me about the day the block opposite was to be opened by Newcastle Lord Mayor.  They had finished fixing the block’s name prominently above the  shops, just in time, but the “O” went missing.  Tom went on to tell me the letter “O” was replaced by a lavatory seat, which in those days was always made of wood.  With careful joinery this was used and pride saved. These letters have all now been removed, but when in place you could see how the lavatory seat had served a more regal purpose than its original intention.” ©Joe Seery

Lemonade Powder, Aniseed Balls and Dolly Mixtures

Finally, at the end of this long parade of shops, we have reached Maynard’s Sweetshop. Part of the large local chain of sweetshops, they sold a vast range of sweets in a multitude of jars behind the counter, satisfying all tastes from black bullets, aniseed balls, fruit drops and dolly mixtures to lemonade powder to dip your finger in, turning it bright yellow, and rather posher boxes of chocolates. It was here you would come if you wanted a special large box of Dairy Box or Milk Tray for a present as they had more selection than most other shops and even stocked the more exotic brands such as Black Magic, Terrys Spartan or All Gold. Today it’s become Bridgford’s yet another Estate Agent, which now abound on the High Street.   

Crossing over West Avenue and Ivy Road in front of the two churches, we come to Barclays Bank on the bottom corner of Ivy Road. Next door to the Bank on Ivy Road was the Brandling Garage in the old Gosforth Tram Sheds and stables. I don’t actually recall the garage from that period. These premises became Lipton’s, then Presto Supermarket around 1970 and later Kwiksave, who subsequently moved into the Gosforth centre where the shop was ultimately developed into a Sainsbury’s Branch. The tram sheds were to become a furniture store and have now given way to a large Gymnasium. Barclays Bank premises, after lying empty for many years, was recently developed into a quality optician’s shop.   

Old Gosforth Tram Sheds

Gee Sykes and Cook garage Discovering Heritage
Gee Sykes and Cook

C L Stewart’s Hunter’s Wool Shop and Lilburn Fish Monger

Passing the bank, we come upon another double shop unit C L.Stewart’s, a seed merchants with other gardening equipment and supplies. Stewart’s always had a range of products standing outside, such as sacks of gardening materials, peat, bamboo canes and sometimes a few simple tools. Inside, the shop had a very particular aroma, probably related to the range of fertilisers they stocked. This shop became Granada about 1977, then a Plumbing & Heating Supplies firm ) – now St Oswald’s Hospice Bookshop.

The little shop beyond was Hunter’s Wool shop, suppliers of wools and all things for the needlewoman and two doors more and we come upon Lilburn’s the Fish Mongers, and Game Dealer later called Philips Fishmongers, a branch of a firm in Newcastle’s Westgate Road later to be Sunshades (Blinds) and then – Fones Tek. This would become the entrance to the Gymnasium on Ivy Road, which now runs along behind the shops in the old tram sheds. A second wet fish shop on the High Street, and where would you find one today? Even the supermarket wet fish counters are being removed with just prepacks and frozen fish remaining.

Reaching the shop that is now a St Oswald’s Hospice Charity Shop, I’m unsure what it was at that time, but it did become the Travel Centre with Radio Rentals just next door; now it’s a branch of Subway.

Steels Cycles, Eblett Newsagent, Davison Chemist

Next, for cyclists of all ages, we come to the long-established Steels Cycle Shop, which later moved to 5 Salter’s Rd, to take over Edgar Tulips old cycle shop and ultimately arrived in Station Road in South Gosforth. Many will recall the puncture repair kits tins containing a tiny yellow crayon to mark the puncture with, patches and a mini tube of rubber solution, a little square of sandpaper to roughen the repair area and a squared stick of French chalk with a little metal grater to grate over the repaired area and prevent sticking to the outer tube.   

The Midland Bank (later HSBC) moved in after Steels moved out from here.

Beyond Steel’s, we come to Eblett’s, the newsagent later to become Kirkley’s, before being renamed Gosforth News in more recent days.  

On the end of this long parade known as Windsor Buildings, we finally reach J R Davison’s Chemist shop. This was where, if impoverished, we called in on the way to a Saturday Morning children’s matinee at the Royalty cinema or the Globe, which was just up Salter’s Road. Davison’s stocked liquorice root, colt’s foot rock, aniseed balls and barley sugar sticks amongst other confectionery delights that were deemed more suited to a chemist’s shop, and all were displayed in large sweety jars along the top of the high glass counter. For just a ½ d, you could get several aniseed balls or a stick of liquorice root. This ‘twig like’ piece of dried root could happily be chewed for the whole time you were in the cinema with its slight flavour of liquorice, finally ending up like a small paint or toothbrush. Perhaps the cheapest and longest lasting of all confections, it certainly lasted much longer than Everlasting Toffee that was available elsewhere.

Davison’s was replaced in due course by Crawford’s of Edinburgh, a bakery chain eventually giving way to Your Move, yet another Estate Agent. 

Davison’s Chemist Shop

Newcastle Libraries photo Davison Chemist Newcastle City Libraries
Davison’s Chemist Shop Gosforth High Street

Passing the small church here at the bottom of Woodbine Road and then the primary school on the corner of Salter’s Road,[ now a car park], we’ve practically reached the end of where I generally ventured other than to the cinemas. Not wishing to have to carry it too far, most of my shopping was done at the South end of the High Street. However, there was one more notable shop on Salter’s Road just before the Globe Cinema. This was Andersons, a general dealer and grocer. Here we could get a ‘cheap’ ice lolly after the cinema if money permitted for about 2d or 3d. These were called Jubblies, a watery orange ice lolly shaped like a pyramid about 3 – 4 inches in size and without a stick in a waxed cardboard covering. Tearing off one corner, you could squeeze the pyramid of ice up gradually as you enjoyed it. As you sucked away at it, the juice came out, leaving behind more of a pyramid of plain ice than a fruit lolly. They’re still available today for home freezing, but they are now only half their former size.

Militant Attack on the Globe Cinema Gosforth

The Globe Cinema Gosforth
Photo credit Cinema Treasures Roger Ebert

Globe Cinema and T Punshon Newsagent

The Globe Cinema, having converted to bingo in 1961, has now been Poon’s Gosforth Palace Chinese restaurant for many years. The Royalty Cinema closed in 1981 after much consideration as to whether it should become a roller skating rink or some similar such use. It was then knocked down to arise again from the dust as Homedowne House, a sheltered housing block.

Back again to the bottom of Salter’s Road, we continue North past the Gosforth Hotel (Pub), and next come to Punshon’s The Newsagent and Confectioner.

I didn’t come along to Punshon’s very often in those days but came to know the lady who worked behind the counter in the late 80’s when I would occasionally pop in with my youngest son, Justin. This was Betty Grigg, who was well known for her happy, cheerful manner and her love of kids. Her black hair was always tied in up into her trademark bun. She seemed to really know so many of her young customers and would often come out from behind the counter and slip them a sweety or two. I may have encountered Betty in earlier days but do not recall this. This shop is – now Gosforth Flame Kebab & Barbecue.

I have little recollection of the shops beyond, with the exception of the last one before reaching Landsdowne Terrace. This was the Launderette owned by James Woodall, a local businessman who also owned the Grove Garage at the South end of the High Street. At the corner of Roseworth Avenue. ©David Wardell

T Punshon Ltd.

Old photo of Gosforth High Street showing T punshon Newsagent
T Punshon (after the Gosforth Hotel)
Old photo of TGosforth High Street showing T Punshon Newsagaent
T Punshon (last shop before Gosforth Hotel)

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The Remarkable Life of One Gosforth Woman

Jesmond Cemetery Discovering Heritage

Jesmond Old Cemetery

The Life of Susannah Toward International Womens’s Day

Have you heard of Susannah Toward?


We didn’t think so.

One of history’s dilemmas is that it tends to favour the well known, the grand gesture, the highly profiled. However, I find myself gripped with the idea that every man, woman and child who lives or has lived has or had their own story, and all small ordinary stories will influence the bigger stories in history. Every occupation enables a community to thrive; simply by going about their day-to-day lives, our ancestors played a part in creating history.

Here at Discovering Heritage, we actively seek out the ordinary person, the minute details and forgotten facts of people’s lives.

For our post for International Women’s Day2021 , we could have chosen to highlight Eva Ibbotson’s life, the author from Jesmond, or Dame Irene Ward, Baroness Ward of North Tyneside from Gosforth; we opted, however, to bring you the remarkable story of Susannah Toward.

Discovering Heritage Susannah Toward Grave Stone Jesmond Cemetery

Our story begins as all the best stories do, in a graveyard. To be precise, in Jesmond Old Cemetery Newcastle.

Jesmond Old Cemetery opened in 1836; it was designed by John Dobson, who is also buried here with thousands of the great and good people of Newcastle.

Approaching the cemetery one February morning in 2021, we recognised the tall sandstone gates built with Kenton Stone. Kenton quarry was once well known for the fine quality of the Freestone that would cut easily from the bedrock and had an amazing seven hundred years of production.

Kenton Quarry Newcastle City Libraries. Discovering Heritage blog

We walked through the gateway and began to filter through the gravestones looking to see if we were familiar with any names on the inscriptions. We did know one or two, including the name of Fenwick, which we may come back to at a later date. We threaded in and out of the stones and eventually found ourselves in the part of the cemetery that had been cleared in readiness for the new road plan during the 1970s, but which never actually happened.

Here we noticed the memorial stone of Susannah Toward; it was the name of Gosforth that caught our attention. Then the fact that Susannah was not buried with a husband. Susannah died in 1892. It was unusual for a woman to have such a gravestone, which was not huge but easily out-sized many of her male counterparts nearby.

Susannah Walworth Gibson Street Newcastle

Susannah was born Susannah Walworth in Northumberland around 1818. The 1841 census shows her working as a Bonnet Maker living on Gibson Street. Gibson Street is near Stepney Lane, not far from the river. Three years later, in 1844, she married a surgeon called John Forster at the approximate age of twenty-five. The 1851 census shows the couple lived at Millers Hill, in All Saints parish, Newcastle, also with her mother.

Susannah Crone Golden Lion Inn Tyne Street Newcastle

The marriage to John Forster was not to be long-lived. Failing to find a Susannah Forster in the 1861 census, we eventually discovered her in the marriage records and realised that she had married again in 1855. We then found her on the 1861 census living at a public house called the Golden Lion at 2 Tyne Street, married to an Inn Keeper named Joseph Crone.

Susannah Toward Census Discovering Heritage

Susannah no doubt witnessed many of life’s varied circumstances. As this newspaper excerpt illustrates, 

“FATAL AFFRAY BETWEEN TWO APPRENTICES IN NEWCASTLE. The Coroner (J. T. Hoyle, Esq.) held Inquest on Tuesday evening, at the Golden Lion Inn, Tyne Street, on the body of James Johnson, who died on Tuesday morning, a consequence of the injuries caused by the “usage of a young man named William Venus, an apprentice with Mr Tate, Cooper, Nelson Street, North Shore. Venus was present during the enquiry.—Robt. Nesbit of St. Ann’s Row, employed at the Hamburg Wharf, said: The deceased, James Johnson, was a little over 16 years of age. I am his uncle. He lived with me at 8 St. Ann’s Row, New Road. He was the employment of Mr Tate, cooper. I saw deceased on the Hamburg Wharf, about half-past six o’clock, on the morning of Monday, the 19th inst., in perfect health. He then went to his work. About 7*3

0 the same morning, he came running to me at the Wharf, with his face and hands covered with blood. In consequence of what he said, I went with him to Mr Tate’s shop. I asked Venus why he had struck the deceased, and he replied it was because he would not make the fire on. Venus took up the great chopper, used by coopers for chopping staves, held it close to my face, and said, “I’ll chop your head too.” Venus said he had been used the same way when a boy, for not making fires on, and that if the deceased would not do so, he would do it again to him. I then sent the deceased home, and I returned to my work. I did not make any examination to see what injuries he had received, but I saw that he was walking lame. Mr Hawthorn, the surgeon, was sent for in the morning; but his assistant only came. I thought the deceased was dangerously ill at night that I went and brought Mr Hawthorn down to see him. He continued to attend deceased until his death.”

Susannah Toward Gosforth Newcastle

Unfortunately, Joseph Crone died in 1868. Following Susannah, through census entries from 1861 to 1873, we found that she remained at the Golden Lion for five years after her husbands’ death, and her occupation is recorded as Victualler. Perhaps a difficult life for a woman in those times. We then rechecked the marriage records and found that in 1873 she remarried and became Mrs John Toward.

Once again, Susannah was not blessed with a long marriage as we found her in the 1881 census living at 8, Railway Terrace in Gosforth recorded as a widow living by her own means. With her in the house were her nieces Jayne aged 10, and Isabella, aged 20. We can trace her through trade directories during 1886, 1887 and 1890 to 8 Gosforth Terrace in South Gosforth. The 1891 census tells us that Susannah is still living in Gosforth at 8 Gosforth Terrace. She is seventy-six years old and living with Jane Walworth (possibly her niece, who by this time has also been widowed, resident also were Charles W Fenwick, a married clerk aged 34, his wife, Isabella Fenwick (possibly Susannah’s other niece), aged 30 and their son Charles W Fenwick Jnr aged 9.

Susannah died in 1892 and was buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery. A remarkable life, we think you’ll agree?

From Bonnet Maker and Victualler in the less than salubrious All Saints Parish, to an independent lady, head of the household living by her own means in Gosforth with a grave in Jesmond Old cemetery where so many of the city’s well known industrialists, architects, and other influential names are to be found.

Three husbands and no children, we can only wonder what her life was actually like. We might assume that the years spent as Victualler at the Golden Lion Inn were profitable ones, and Susannah had a good head for business. Probate records show she died, leaving effects of £240 7s 7d, (worth approximately £21,319.55 today), to Job Walworth and Isabella Fenwick.

Probate Susannah Toward Discovering Heritage

The Golden Lion was demolished in the 1980s.

The photo below shows the back of The Golden Lion pub junction of Tyne Street and City Road. 

©Discovering Heritage

048475:The Golden Lion City Road/Tyne Street Unknown 1985 | Flickr

Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne (1980s) | Steps (since removed… | Flickr

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