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Gosforth High Street in the 1950s

Gosforth High Street Discovering Heritage

Discovering Heritage are a team of specialist historical researchers with expertise in researching local and residential history. We love connecting people to their local and personal heritages.

We are thrilled to join David Wardell once again for a nostalgic walk down Gosforth High Street.

We begin where we finished in David’s last post at number 69 Gosforth High Street!

Greggs The Bakers

We are now up to No.69.  In my infancy I can just recall this Baker’s shop as Masons the bakers from where we would get our bread. Thomas Mason and his wife worked here making their bread in the rear of the premises. Around 1951 this shop was to become the very first shop of Greggs the Bakers. John Gregg and his wife started up the well-known chain of bakers from here with just this one shop and a van round.  I was often sent here for an Edinburgh Oval brown, dusted over with a little flour or a milk roll, a cylindrical round loaf with a ridged corrugated surface, or perhaps a fadge, (a round flat loaf like a stottie without the central hole). Occasionally we might even risk a cut loaf wrapped in it’s waxed paper covering.

Greggs Bakers at Salters Road Gosforth

Greggs were later to become famed for the Geordie stotties that they produced. Bread was always wrapped up in white tissue paper which tended to fall loose whilst carrying and smaller items were placed in plain white paper bags. Logo printed bags were a thing of the future. Sometimes cakes were put in a flimsy cardboard box if you bought about six or were prepared to pay  the 2d extra for the box.  Mrs. Gregg and staff would be behind the counter and later also her son Ian who took the business to its current heights with shops all over the country assisted by his brother Colin, later to become a school teacher at the Kings School Tynemouth.  Their sister would also sometimes be present, still a schoolgirl, if I remember correctly. This original shop is now a part of the Gosforth Travel Bureau. I have never found a close photo of this first shop and even Greggs do not appear to have one in their online history — the nearest one being their later shop opposite what was previously Woolworths.

Just beyond Greggs we reach my father’s surgery at no.75. This had previously been Johnson Bros., Dyers and perhaps a dry cleaners. Mother took the shop on near the end of WW11 as her chiropody surgery and then my father took the reins after his demob from the RAF.

This had been a larger shops split in to two smaller units. My father’s surgery was completely blacked out around the lower half of the window for patient privacy with his large bronze plate the only visible sign outside, the door being screened with net curtaining.  Inside was very small with a tiny waiting area and a treatment cubicle in the window space. A curtain screened off the rear third of the shop where he could make cups of tea etc. and wash his hands between patients and maybe prepare his medicaments. It is now Sarah Mains an Estate agency. Walking home from my primary school in Linden Road I used to call in to the surgery and then my father would come out between patients and see me safely across the High Street whence I returned home.

The other half of this divided shop was Blenkinsop’s the Coal Merchants,  run with an iron hand by Edie Blenkinsop and beyond, Milthorpes the greengrocer’s and florist.

This was Miss.Annie Gardner’s emporium assisted by Miss. Wilson , a favourite person of mine, Regularly I would receive little extra pieces of fruit or some sweets from her personal little  paper bag in her apron. This shop was our main source of fruit and veg. for home and occasional bunches of flowers for Mother. It was more a greengrocers with a few flowers than a true florists shop and was usually cheaper than the dedicated florist shops. Greengrocery purchases were always put in to brown paper bags,  as were those from the hardware shops. Milthorpes also had a shop on Kenton Road and later acquired Davy Johnson’s shop on the High Street, which we have passed by already. According to phone directories the Milthorpe family had been on the High Street at this very shop since at least 1922 . 

Moving on from here the next shop I recall was F.W.Robinsons, a sweet shop and plastic goods retailer. Around 1959 this shop was acquired by and opened up as a branch of local coffee company, Pumphrey’s, selling coffee and tea and other specialist grocery items. The sweet shop had been flat on the street level but for some reason Pumphreys raised the floor level considerably, with a large step up in to their premises.  

Dunn’s The Butchers

We have now reached the well-known local butcher, Harry Dunn,  who also had a shop in the Grainger Market in Newcastle.  I came to know Harry and his staff of butchers fairly well, regularly shopping there for my Granny who lived just behind his shop on Hawthorn Road opposite the Police Station.  I would visit her on a Saturday to buy her shopping for her. Harry Dunn always looked after me well and in much later years kept me well supplied with juicy beef knuckle bones for our dogs. Now a hair salon it had also been briefly a Take Away Kebab shop in the mid 80’s.  The shop beyond had also been a Barbecue and Burger shop for a short spell in the 70’s.

Now at the  corner of Hawthorn Road we arrive at Murphy’s Wet Fish Shop, run by Mr .and Mrs.Murphy, with their fishy offerings displayed on speckled cream raised slab counters set in the windows.  Today it’s an Estate Agent with Coffee Shop combined.

There was another business just round the corner in Hawthorn Road & upstairs, where in the late 60’s Isaac and Rhoda Newrick had a small hairdressing business. Both had  previously worked at Hollingsworths Salon in Market Street in Newcastle and old Isaac was to cut my hair for a good few years in my teens,  and as it was very coarse in nature he routinely attacked it vigorously with his thinning scissors. It was a bit like cutting a hedge with blunt shears.

I would venture out from my Grannys house on a Saturday morning to get her shopping, after chopping her firewood with an axe and shovelling up her coke in to hods to place beside the fires for the princely sum of 3d,  her contribution to my weekly pocket money,  which I had worked hard to get.  First stop would always be at the bottom of Hawthorn Road, for a small white, uncut loaf at Carricks The Bakers who also stocked yet another ice cream brand, Eldorado. We had a choice of many ice cream brands at that time. Remember if you can the oblong bricks of ice cream that fitted in to rectangular cornets before the days of Mr.Whippy and such like. 

Boydells paper bag Discovering Heritage
Some memories of Boydells From our Facebook Page ©Discovering Heritage

As good as new G W R Hornby Brake Coach and only £1.32 Boydells price!

This shop was later re-incarnated as Boydells Toy Shop and subsequently was split in to three smaller shops.

Advert for Boydells shop on Gosforth High Street

Further shopping for my Granny, as previously mentioned, was usually to Dunn the butchers for her ‘Sunday Joint’ which was usually just two little chops joined together, some groceries and then a trip to the Co-op Pharmacy for some Carter’s Little Liver Pills or some Andrews Liver Salts , where I was always reminded by her to use her ‘Co-op Divi Number, 29853’  so that she would get her divi which was paid out every so often. No Greenshield Stamps at that time, a treat to follow in later years. After Carricks we encounter John Pringles Shoe Shop, later Saxone and then  Peter Lord Shoes, now  Café Nero Coffee shop.   

A tiny bit further and  we reach Boots the Chemist at No.105/107. A somewhat larger chemist’s shop, managed by pharmacist Mr.George Batey , a keen apiarist (Bee Keeper). I always had to ask here for my father’s professional discount of 10%,  available to those in the medical profession, which I was later able to obtain in my own right.

Wilkinson’s Grocers

Now we have come to Wilkinson’s, High Class Grocers and the ‘Fortnum’s’ of Gosforth. Here you would find 3 long mahogany topped counters,  one down either side and one across the rear of the shop. I was always sent to Wilkinson’s for ¼ pound of freshly ground coffee which Mother enjoyed. Most of our other  groceries would be purchased  elsewhere, particularly  by delivery from William Darling’s stall in the Grainger Market. A very long standing family arrangement. Only day to day additional fresh grocery needs came from the High Street shops. Wilkinsons , distinguished by its large counters, with tinned and packet goods mostly on the right side and on the left, where the bacon slicer resided, cooked meats, bacon, cheese, butter and other fats. Cheese sat resplendent on a large marble slab with a cheese wire cutter and butter would be at the back in a part open wooden barrel from Denmark (Early Lurpak) waiting to be cut and shaped with wooden pats. All these items were wrapped in greaseproof paper and traditional plain white paper bags except for sugar with it’s special blue paper bag and pulses which were put in to similar stout brown/grey packets. There was a particular reason for the blue sugar packets but now escapes my memory.  

You had to stand in line at these counters and wait your turn to be served by the assistant. who would move back and forth finding each item on the shelves behind. Staff were well known locally, with John the Manager, assisted by Miss. Agnes Porter –  another senior staff member. I knew them quite well since I would also come in here regularly with friends whose parents used the shop a great deal.  We were allowed to play in the back of the shop and would seek out the wooden hoops from the butter casks which we then took home to boule along the street with a stick. Many biscuits were sold loose at that time and in the front corner there was a stand of about 8 biscuit tins with glass lids. In these were all sorts of loose commonly eaten biscuits such as cream crackers, Cornish Wafers, Custard Creams, Bourbons and Nice biscuits from well known names like Peek Frean’s, Huntley and Palmer’s and Fox’s. Some shops even sold broken biscuits from the factories, but I doubt these would have been welcomed in Wilkinson’s Emporium.

Some old glass topped biscuit tins

©David Wardell

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History of Mothering Sunday

Mothers Day mum grandma and great grandma Discovering Heritae

What pops into your head when you think of visiting or when your remember your Mum?

For myself, it is the opening welcome of the front door and delicious smells of cooking wafting from the kitchen. My Mum is a fantastic cook and enjoys planning meals and cooking new recipes, even though I have turned sixty this year, I still love going home for dinner. My husband and I look forward to this regular family ritual. When my children are home a meal and a glass of wine with granny is always a high priority at any time of the year!

I must admit to never having heard of Carlin Pancakes until I researched this article and to be honest I’m not sure mum would fancy cooking them! I wonder if the flavour is anything like Pease Pudding?

What food would have been on the historic table on Mothering Sunday?

One might expect a bowl of steeped peas fried in butter with salt and pepper in the North of England, or some pancakes known as carlings. An article in the Morpeth Herald dated 1888 suggests that in North East England the tradition of eating carlings on this day became so strong that it became known locally as Carling Sunday.

What is A Carling/Carlin Pancake?

A carling is a type field pea known as a Maple Pea. It is an ancient food grown and used since Neolithic times. Field peas are grown and left to dry out before they are harvested instead of being harvested as a green garden vegetable. The Carling Pea is still eaten today and differs from other dried peas like marrowfat or split peas in that it doesn’t disintegrate after cooking. Two recipe suggestions I came across were –


Boil the carlins until soft

Mix with onions and breadcrumb

Form into small pancakes and fry.


Pre-soak carlins overnight

Boil until soft seasoning with salt and vinegar

Parch (dry out in the oven)

Season further with rum and brown sugar.

In other parts of the country, simnel cake was often associated as a traditional gift for Mother’s Day.

History of Mother’s Day

Mothers Day, falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent or Mid-Lent Sunday. Another name for Mid-lent Sunday is Laetare Sunday. The recognition of Laetare (to rejoice) Sunday dates to the medieval period and has religious origins. Further reading…

In the Middle Ages, a custom developed whereby people would return to their mother church on this day – another association for the term “going mothering.” Later this particular Sunday was marked as a day when daughters who had left home to work in domestic service or housekeeping could have a day off to attend church with their families.

“One can Imagine how, after a stripling or or a maiden had gone to service, or launched independent housekeeping, the old bonds of filial love would be brightened by this pleasant annual visit, as signalised, custom demanded should be, by the excitement attending with some novelty and perhaps gift.” Morpeth Herald 1888

The Book of Days first published in 1864 associates this calendar day with the custom of visiting one’s parents, particularly your Mother; taking with you a small gift.

“A youth engaged in this amiable duty was said to go a-mothering, and thence the day itself came to be called Mothering Sunday.” (Morpeth Herald, 1888).

In 1914 Anna Jarvis promoted Mothers Day in the USA ‘as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.’

In 1921 a lady named Constance Adelaide Smith (1878–1938), wrote a book, The Revival of Mothering Sunday, written under the pen name ‘C. Penswick Smith’, which explored the evidence for Mid-Lent Sunday tradition. Constance Smith demonstrated that historically there was an international record for honouring all kinds of mothers.

Mothers day’s origins are wide-ranging, but what a great way to connect with our female heritage!

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Take your mum on a journey through history. Our carefully researched folio pages are surrounded with colourful drawings of violets and cakes. We have delved deep into the archives to bring you two original recipe cards beautifully illustrated with ingredients and baking utensils. Have fun baking your simnel cake from a 1911 recipe.

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Elmfield Road Laws Stores & Christensen Watchmaker & Jeweler.

Gosforth High Street Newcastle Libraries

photo credit Newcastle Libraries Gosforth High Street 1920

Memories of Gosforth High Street 1950s Onwards

Part 1 Elmfield Road to  – The Little Barber

David Wardell

Born just off the High Street in 1946 I came to know Gosforth High Street well, since having a disabled Mother, I was her ‘errand boy’.  Locally we called it going a message’ or an ‘errand’ and we spoke about going ‘along the village’.  Gosforth at that time had that local ‘villagey’ feel about it.

Can You Imagine A World Without Supermarkets?

Supermarkets and self-service shops were quite unheard of in the 50’s.  Mother , a chiropodist, had opened a small surgery on the High Street towards the end of WW11 at no.75a (actually half of a shop)  where she practiced chiropody briefly until our father returned from his RAF wartime duties and took over the surgery (also a chiropodist) and Mother became pregnant with me and never returned to her work there, since she also became progressively disabled during the early months of my life.

From being very young I was sent on errands along the High Street . There was little worry in those days and young children wandered abroad much more freely. By the age of eight I was even sent in to Newcastle alone on the bus, to get my hair cut at Hollingsworth’s Hairdressers in Market Street, opposite what was then Bainbridge’s Department Store. The bus stopped exactly outside and all I had to do was ask a passing ‘lady’ to show me across the road, but ‘never a man’  as my parents were slightly wary of this. I was also told never to speak to ‘tramps’, of which there were a few regular ones, well known in the area, who often passed through Gosforth.

Beginning At Elmfield Road

Discovering Heritage Corner of Elmfield Road  Gosforth High Street

Going on to the High Street heading North on the West side the first shops were on Elmfield Road, with Pool’s the Chemist (later Dancers) and Mr.Veitch’s Greengrocery And Game Dealer’s Shop. One of the few shops that regularly paraded their wares outside. Some of their stock was put outside on wooden boxes raised off the ground – probably orange boxes. Gosforth had a great many greengrocers and grocers at that time.

On the very corner of Elmfield Rd. was ‘The Corner Shop’ or Robert’s , a tiny sweetshop and tobacconists next to Fleck’s the Grocer’s (run by the two Fleck brothers). Flecks later acquired the Corner Sweet Shop and Mrs.Fleck, the wife of one of the brothers managed it.

Robinson’s Pet food store came next, part of a small local chain of pet shops complete with their sacks of dog and animal feeds and biscuits and other paraphernalia for small pets. All with a very distinctive aroma.

Gosforth Assembly Rooms

Discovering Heritage Gosforth Assembly Rooms 2020

Beyond the pet shop we find the entrance to Gosforth Assembly Rooms, larger upstairs premises, that were used for many a small local function or dance.  After this we reach Harry Wood the Butcher, so obliging as a source of sawdust for my pet rabbit’s hutch , and just beyond him,  Nicholson’s the Newsagent, quite a narrow shop later to become ‘Pastimes’ Toys.

Nicholson’s sold Walls Ice Creams and I well remember their Snowfrute ice lollies which were  like a long triangular fruity prism on a stick.   After Nicholson’s we find Davy Johnson, the greengrocer, who was later to be taken over by Milthorpe’s who had a shop further along.  Davy’s , being near , was the shop of choice for small errand boys sent for heavy potatoes . Mother would send us for half a stone which felt more like half a ton, especially if added to other heavy purchases like carrots and apples. Poor old Davy had a perpetual runny nose and almost always had a large dew drop hanging on the end of it. We children would watch horrified as this dropped on to our potatoes making a large wet patch on the dry soil coating them. We christened this drop ‘A Johnson’ and the name stuck for many years to come.

Causey Street

Passing on beyond here is Martin’s Bank – later Barclays, on the corner of Causey Street ,  and just up here on the left hand side was Mr.Brown the old fashioned cobbler where we would take our shoes for repairs. A friendly man and intriguing to watch  at work as well as being a useful supply of small leather off cuts which attracted small boys, although seldom with any real thought to any further use for them.  

Discovering Heritage are a team of heritage researchers with expertise in researching house and family histories we are based in Gosforth.

Clarkson’s Doll’s Hospital

Opposite the cobbler on the corner of the back lane was Clarkson’s Doll’s Hospital . Not much use to small boys but very interesting to watch, through the window,  this elderly gentleman working to save many a girl’s well-loved dolly, and he could also fix a boy’s Teddy Bear if necessary. His shop was soon to become Clare Mellor’s Hairdressing Salon where Mother attended for several years for her cut and perm with assistant  hairdresser Miss. Knight.

Lower down was Barney’s Wine Store, a very small off licence where we would be sent with a note for cigarettes for our father or at Xmas perhaps for a bottle of Cream Sherry.  Father knew the manageress, Miss. Hobbs, who was a patient. Here some wines and sherries could be obtained ‘off the wood’, for which they filled your own bottle from a plastic lined box with a tap on.  A larger forerunner of the later to come wine boxes.  These wines, I was told,  were of poor quality and rather ropey tasting. 

As I did so much shopping on the High Street, often with little notes from Mother, I became pretty well known among many of the shop keepers who knew my parents well from their having the Surgery on the High Street, and I was often rewarded by some with small treats. (A lolly or a few sweets extra in the bag, or perhaps a banana or apple or some such treat or when buying flowers for my Mother as a present, a few extra bits or some greenery would be thrown in ).

Historical Aspects Of Gosforth

Buying A Lucky Dip!

Reaching the bottom Northern corner of Causey Street we come to Clarkson’s Toy Shop at 59a High Street, owned and run by Mrs.Clarkson, wife of the owner of the Dolls Hospital.  A real treat for us kids was the 3d Lucky Dip in her Bran Tub. These were just made up in a brown paper bag by Mrs.Clarkson, unlike later factory produced Lucky Dips, and were concealed within lots of bran or shavings in a small barrel , where we would fish around trying to find the best bag. Of course they were probably all the same and filled with small items she wanted rid of that hadn’t sold well. This shop later became a florists, run for many years by Nancy Mellor and her sister before becoming Katherine’s Florists. Nancy was younger but I believe she owned the business,  watched like a hawk by her older sister,  who would tell her off if she gave anything free. The small shop next door is lost to memory but later in the 70’s became Baps Sandwich shop with sandwiches made from large white and brown stotties, stuffed with delightful fillings.  After that it became a fruit and veg store and is now Alberto’s Stitch and Sew and handbags shop, full of colourful leather handbags.

Newcastle Guild Of Cordwainers

Laws Stores

Now we are at Laws Stores, a branch of a local grocery chain, again quite small, as most grocers were at that time. Laws was to become the very first Self Service shop on the High Street in the early 60’s. Unheard of up until that time, we were all amazed to be allowed to select our own goodies in a mesh basket without having to wait to be served at the counter. Laws later became Gosforth Health Foods and then Just Kidding children’s boutique with a successful upstairs coffee shop. In those days coffee shops and cafes tended to fail on the High Street , perhaps because there was less spare cash and more time had to be spent on preparing daily meals and washing; Takeaway food was unheard of with the exception of fish and chips. Passing Laws Stores we arrive at WD Nicholson the butcher, long standing supplier to my family, where I would pop in for a pound of pork sausage, half a pound of stewing steak or 3or 4 lamb chops perhaps and also here was another source of sawdust for my rabbit.

Laws leads on to Christensen the Watchmaker and Jeweller. His tiny shop sat partly under the stairs leading up to the accommodation above. I well recall this nice avuncular old man, sitting with his jeweller’s loupe screwed up in to his eye, mending clocks and watches. The shop had a special smell of cleaning solvent used on the horological movements ….very similar to lighter fluid.  His business was later taken on by Geoffrey Ormerod, a younger man I later came to know professionally, who was always involved with various ‘fantastic inventions’ such as his puncture proof tyre he worked on with Lord Hesketh,  having developed a special five ways valve for inflation . This shop became the Little Card Shop and then the Little Barber reflecting on it’s tiny size.

Watch out for the next in this series of posts along Gosforth High Street

Copyright David Wardell & Discovering Heritage

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Sanderson Hospital Gosforth

Northumbria Archive Sanderson Hospital for Discovering Heriage

Our thanks to Northumberland Archives for the use of this photograph

Residents of Gosforth will remember this building as the Sanderson Hospital. At the time of writing this building has been demolished and the site is being developed for housing.

Lok Developments, part of Newcastle-based property, construction and development firm Morton Group, has completed a £17million refinancing deal for its luxury property scheme on the site of the former Sanderson Hospital in Gosforth.

Building Christmas Traditions

In the following post we look at two different eras of the Sanderson Hospital during their Christmas festivities and share the traditions that developed over the years of Christmas celebrations.

Sanderson Hospital A Brief History

By the time the first of these two articles was published in the Morpeth Herald, the Sanderson Home for Destitute and Crippled Children had been operating in Gosforth for nineteen years. Having outgrown its two previous sites firstly at Whickham in 1888 and then Red House in Wallsend in 1889 the hospital was opened by Mrs Hilton Philipson on 30 September 1897. 

In June 1914 the hospital was extended to include five classrooms adapted for open-air teaching, a girls dormitory an isolation hospital and workshops. The extension was designed by Messrs.’ Newcombe and Newcombe architects of Newcastle. These improvements cost six thousand pounds, and funds were raised with the help of local philanthropists. A notable contribution of two thousand three hundred pounds came from one lady named Francis Ochiltree.

Christmas 1916

“Outside the picturesque Crippled Children’s Home at Gosforth on Christmas Day was bleakness itself, but inside everything was merry and bright.”

The tragedy of the war does not sadden destitute children, and the consequence was an ability to enter whole-heartedly into the joyous programme that the matron, Miss Hasler, her staff, the committee, and others had provided for the ninety little inmates of this noble institution. There was carol singing on Christmas Eve, a substantial Christmas dinner, and the many etceteras on Christmas afternoon, with a merry party at night. 

The sight of the little cripples in the prettily-decorated rooms of the Home, both at dinner and after the crackers bad been exploded and the tiny tots had become adorned in the coloured paper clothing which the crackers provided, was good to behold, while the shouts of delight that rang over the dinner table after each fresh cracker surprise and other novelties were wholesome to hear. 

So generous had been Mr. W. J- Sanderson, the chairman, and his good lady and many others, that the youngsters seemed to be stinted for nothing. There were turkeys and roast beef and plum pudding for dinner, and no end of cakes, fruit, sweets, and other gifts later.

Many of these good things had been brought to the institution bv a veritable Santa Claus, who had dressed for the part. He was laden with presents and filled stockings with lavish hands. During the day and night a variety of games were indulged in. Amongst the visitors during the day was the new vicar of All Saints’, Mr. Kennedy. 

Fri 29 December 1916 Morpeth Herald

In September 1938 the hospital offered 134 beds.

The original aim of the Sanderson Hospital was to care for children who could not be placed in the workhouse because of their physical handicap.

The hospital had several name changes during its lifetime

  • 1897 The WJ Sanderson Home for Destitute and Crippled Children
  • 1929 – WJ Sanderson Home for Crippled Children
  • 1934 – WJ Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital and School for Children
  • 1950 – Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital
  • 1964 – Sanderson Hospital

In 1934 the hospital began to look after adults as well as children. It continued to be run as an independent institution; this situation continued until the introduction of the National Health Act of 1947. 

“Increasingly, the hospital became known for the work done in the field of orthopaedic surgery and in the treatment of physical handicaps in children caused by dietary deficiency.”

This excerpt from 1937 illustrates a different Christmas and set of challenges faced by the hospital.

Gosforth Scarlet Fever Threat to Festivities Christmas 1937

Owing to an outbreak of scarlet fever in an institution at Gosforth the Christmas celebrations had to be considerably curtailed. Otherwise, the advent of Christmastide was recognized with the usual good cheer and enthusiasm. Inmates of the W. J. Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital School for Children entered upon a week of sumptuous festivity on Christmas Eve, when Father Christmas distributed gifts. 

The gay decorations of the wards were enhanced by the glitter of three big Christmas trees. Christmas Day brought the annual dinner, donations to which were again forthcoming from many sympathizers. There was a further distribution of gifts on this occasion both for nurses and patients, including Mr A. W. White’s (member of the committee) annual presents of packages of sweets. 

To-morrow the yearly Mary Vittery Stephens’ Christmas-Tree celebrations take place. A Nativity play enacted in the chapel by girls of the Diocesan Home of Mercy, Gosforth, preceded hanging-up of stockings on Christmas Eve, and the annual Christmas Day dinner. Games, a sketch, and charades were among the festivities, and a huge Christmas cake was cut. 

28 December 1937 Newcastle Journal

WJ Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital and School for Children 1938

Britain from Above image of Sanderson Hospital as it looked in

The Sanderson Hospital was responsible for setting other traditions as this comment left on our post – Militant Attack on the Globe Cinema Gosforth illustrates.

“loved going to the Royalty cinema when I was a kid, spent several years in the Sanderson Hospital, there was an old lady that came into Sanderson Hospital at the weekends with a film projector so that the children could watch cartoons and the old black and white comedies like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy, she was a kind woman.”

If you are an avid follower of this site you may have already been introduced to Robert Whitfield Falconer?

In February 1917 The Newcastle Daily Journal carried a story titled

Crippled Children’s Home

Tribute To The Gosforth Institution

The article was published seven months after Robert died during the World War 1.

It begins…

“The following interesting account for the Home for Crippled Children, Gosforth, was written by Lieutenant R.W. Falconer, who was killed in action whilst leading his men at the storming of German trenches in July last:-“

The Original article published in 1917

“When the old way of seeing was displaced, a hollowness came into architecture. Our buildings show a constant effort to fill that void, to recapture that sense of life which was once to be found in any house or shed. Yet the sense of place is not to be recovered through any attitude, device, or style, but through the principles of pattern, spirit, and context.” – Jonathan Hale, The Old Way of Seeing, 1994”― Jonathan Hale, The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic – And How to Get It Back

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Gosforth Pilot

Gosforth Pilot Eric Mearis Grave Stone

On September 1st 1943 the Morpeth Herald carried an article headed simply Gosforth Pilot

The article was a report of a wartime bombing raid. After the bombs were dropped, crews reported smoke as billowing up to 12,000 feet. The resulting fires could be seen from more than a hundred miles away. The paper named the pilot as Sergeant E Mearis of Gosforth, and the plane he flew was a Lancaster bomber. During this mission, the article states, Sergeant Mearis and his flight crew were attacked twice by enemy fighters.

This flight was sergeant Mearis first operation. At twenty-three years of age Sgnt, Mearis joined the RAF after being in the searchlight battery. During this mission, the flight crew came under attack from below by an enemy fighter just as they began the bombing run.

“The Lancaster’s gunners held their fire until the fighter was well within range and then the fighter turned away and broke off the engagement.”

Sergeant Mearis brought the Lancaster back round and started the bombing re-run. The Lancaster discharged its bombs, and the plane once again came under attack from an enemy fighter.

Quote – mid-upper gunner “But I managed to get in a good burst, and it sheared off.”

September 1st 1943 Newcastle Evening Chronicle

Gosforth Pilot

The article refers to E Mearis first mission with his crew he may have completed missions before as a co-pilot to gain experience. The plane Lancaster EE115 took off on August 30th at 0004 hours from Wood Hall Spa and landed at 0433 hours, the target was Monchengladbach. 

On September 3rd 1943 flying with a different crew, Lancaster EE115 crashed.

E Mearis flew only two more missions. On September 27th 1943, his flight to Hanover was abandoned due to icing problems.

On September 29th 1943, just twenty-nine days after the article appeared in the Morpeth Herald, E Mearis took off on what was to be his final flight.

That night the destination was Bochum a city in Western Germany. On his return, Pilot Mearis crossed the English coast without knowing his exact location. The cloud was low and made visibility difficult. Circling in low cloud at a low level he tried to try to work out his position. The aircraft lost height and at 0005 hours flew into high ground at Cadwell Hill five miles west of Mablethorpe. The Lancaster hit the ground and caught fire on impact. Sergeant Mearis was killed after just three sorties and one month after making his first solo RAF flight.

Hemswell Horrors (last verse)

"Who will return tomorrow?
For someone always dies,
Leaving a mother to sorrow
For the end of a son in the skies." 

Les Bucknall (no 150 sqn - 1945)

We now know that this particular Lancaster was an Avro Lancaster MKIII serial number ED983 built as part of a large order of aircraft built between November 1942 and June 1943.

There were seven thousand three hundred and seventy-seven Lancaster’s built during the war, and over half were lost. An archive exists that lists every one of these planes. Bruce Robertson a retired aviation historian published a list in his book Lancaster – The Story Of A Famous Bomber, published in 1964.

The Lancaster Sergeant Mearis piloted on the tragic night of September 29th is at the top of the excerpt below taken from that list. We can see that the following nine planes also crashed or where missing within a few weeks of delivery to various squadrons, giving a snapshot of the reality and danger that bombers crews faced.

Table of Lancaster Bombers And Their Outcome

Serial NumberSquadron NumberDelivery DateOutcome
ED 983619May 1943Crashed September 29th 1943 (Pilot Mearis)
ED 98483May 1943Missing August 24th 1943
ED 985460May 1943Lost (Hanover) October 18th 1943
ED 986460May 1943Lost (Berlin) August 31st 1943
ED 987101May 1943Lost June 13th 1943
ED 988100May 1943Lost June 26th 1943
ED 98956May 1943Lost August 18th 1943
ED 990156May 1943Lost September 7th 1943
ED 991100May 1943Lost November 19th 1943
ED 99257May 1943Lost August 11th 1943

We have discovered that the initial E in the original news article stands for Eric. Eric Mearis lived at 36, Regent Road Gosforth and is buried at St Nicholas Church Cemetery. Eric’s story is not unusual many young pilots died during their first three missions of WWII.

Evening Chronicle 1st October 1943

Copyright Discovering Heritage

Johnny Boy (last verse)

Your name among the thousands,
Etched clear into the stone;
"Twixt other names and many lives,
Though I knew but yours alone.
Your memorial stands in tribute,
And I lament with saddened heart;
Do echo grief of other souls,
Who were, like us, to part.

John Roy Walsh (January 1986)


Service Number: 149942

Regiment & Unit/Ship

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 619 Sqdn.

Date of Death

Died 30 September 1943 Age 23 years old

Buried or commemorated at GOSFORTH (ST. NICHOLAS) CHURCHYARD

Sec. F. Grave 44.

United Kingdom

  • Country of Service United Kingdom
  • Additional Info Son of Arthur Herbert and Eleanor Jane Mearis, of Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
  • Personal Inscription

Discovering Heritage are a team of specialist historical researchers with interests in Family and House histories. We bring you this story as part of our mission to document the history of Gosforth in Newcastle Tyne and Wear and discover lost stories about its inhabitants.

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Charles Henry Lutman(1st) and his descendants – a family of aviators

Charles Henry Lutman Discovering Heritage

Charles Henry Lutman 2nd 1930 – 1995

Charles Henry Lutman photographed above lived in Gosforth during the 60s and 70s. His family have a rich association with early flight, beginning with an 1899 flying machine built in a back yard and followed by early flight attempts from Newcastle Town Moor. The family went on to have a long and successful attachment to Newcastle through eighty years of trading as The Model Shop which can trace its family heritage back through three generations. In this exceptionally detailed post David Wardell follows the Lutman family from 1873 to 1995.

N.B.   within this article the members of this family with the same forenames are designated as (1st ) or (2nd )  etc.  to help with identifying them. You will also find references to Q1 ,2, 3 or 4. This refers to the first, second, third and fourth quarter of the year.

A partial family tree for Charles William(1st)  Lutman

Charles Henry(1st ) Lutman was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 24th July 1873 .  He was the son of  Charles William(1st ) Lutman a Pawnbroker’s Manager and Ellen Humphrey’s , his wife of 91, Bright Street, Attercliffe cum Darnall, Yorkshire, England.

Sources Censuses And 1939 Register and an Ancestry family tree

Birth Registration Charles Henry(1st) LUTMAN  1873 Q3 Sheffield

In 1881 the census shows the family were living at Attercliffe Common , Attercliffe cum Darnal , Sheffield.   Father Charles William(1st) Lutman is shown as a Pawnbroker’s Manager and mother Ellen is not working .  Charles Henry(1st )  is a scholar

Census 1881 (over two pages 332 & 330)

The 1891 census reveals that Charles Henry(1st) Lutman aged 17 years is now a spring plate forger and his mother Ellen Lutman a widowed milk dealer , his father now deceased. They are living still at 68, Attercliffe Common, Attercliffe cum Darnal, Sheffield.

Census 1891 ,  68,Attercliffe Common,  Attercliffe cum Darnal, Sheffield

In 1897 Q2  Charles Henry(1st ) Lutman married Rosetta JUBB at Sheffield.  Rosetta was a local girl , the daughter of Thomas and Harriet Jubb

Marriage to Rosetta JUBB 1897 Q2  Sheffield 19th April 1897

Children of William Lutman and Ellen Humphreys

  • Charles Henry (1st) 24th July 1873
  • Albert Edward 1876 – 1934
  • Florence Emily 1878 -1970
  • Lily Ellen 1881 – 1967


Charles Henry(1st) Lutman’s flying machine, 1899 . He invented and built this aircraft in his backyard chasing the big monetary  prize for the first man-powered flight.

The 1901 census lists Charles Henry(1st ) incorrectly as Charles Wm.  Charles is now shown as a railway spring fitter . Rosetta does not appear to be working . They now have a son  Charles Wm. ( – William )(2nd )  just 2 years old .   Charles Henry’s mother in law Harriet Dawes (a twice married – widow aged 68) , and brother in law Albert Jubb aged 35 (single) are living with them. Albert is a tile grinder.  They are still at Attercliffe cum Darnal but have moved to 15,Wilfrid Road.

Children of Charles Henry(1st ) Lutman and Rosetta Jubb

  • Charles William (2nd) Lutman b. 4th May 1898 at 24 Ellison Street, Sheffield,  Yorkshire, England
  • Albert Lutman b. 6th Sept 1903
  • Frank Lutman b. 1905 d. 1984
  • Reginald Lutman . 6th August 1908 d. 1974
  • Arthur Henry ~(just 2..) b. 31st August 1908 d. 1974


It was said that  Charles Henry(1st ) Lutman had attempted flight on Newcastle town moor even before the Wright brothers. Charles Henry (1st) Lutman, reputed to be the youngest pilot in the country, and his brother, Albert Edward, entered a powered flight competition on the Town Moor in 1903. Unfortunately they did not win but continued with their interest in flight. However flying efforts had scared the grazing cattle on the town moor and all future flying attempts on the town moor at that time , were stopped by the controlling Newcastle Freemen. All future flying was diverted to Gosforth Park racecourse and aerodrome .

From early flight posters

By 1911 the family have moved again to 4,Berkeley Terrace, Newburn, Northumberland – just outside Newcastle upon Tyne. Charles Henry(1st)  is listed as a spring maker at a steel works. Rosetta is still not working. They now have five sons.  Charles William(2nd) 12, Albert 8, Frank 6, Reginald 4 and Arthur Henry just 2. All were born in Sheffield.

Census 1911  4,Berkeley Terrace, Newburn

Charles Henry(1st) Lutman became a major importer of balsa wood in the late 1800’s which was used for making model aeroplanes, balsa wood being light and having a very high strength to weight ratio of any other material available at that time. Scale models of larger aircraft were often produced for testing first in wind tunnels before the full size craft was produced.

Charles William (2nd)  Lutman

b.4/5/1898   d. 29/10/1969

Born from 24 Ellison Street, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England on 4th May 1898 to Charles Henry Lutman and Rosetta Jubb.   

Charles William(2nd) married Elizabeth J Hartley at The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Ridley Terrace, Scotswood Newcastle upon Tyne in  July 1925 Q3 living at 1 Beacon Road, Newton on the Moor .  Described as Engineer in a coalmine at Ashington. They had two children . 

Children of Charles William2 Lutman &  Elizabeth J Hartley

  • Charles Henry (2nd) Lutman 1930 – 1935
  • Glenda Lutman 1935 – 2014

Birth Regn. Charles Henry(2nd) LUTMAN 1930 Q3


In 1924  Charles William(2nd) Lutman opened ‘The Model Shop’ in Barras Bridge in  Newcastle, which was said to be the first model shop in the World. The Model Shop supplied balsa wood to the Air Ministry and several aeronautical companies.  Those working on the full size aeroplanes normally had to sign the Official Secrets Act, but no one bothered about the model makers who produced  a rubber motor powered flying model plane for sale to the public.

Paraphrased from an article in the Evening Chronicle – by Ray Marshall  21 Oct 2009


By 1939 the National Register shows the Charles Henry (1st ) Lutman’s family living at 80 Westmacott Street, Newburn. Charles is a laminated spring maker. Rosetta is at home on unpaid domestic duties and son Frank (single) is a tool – maker-model aeroplanes. 

Their dates of birth are given in the register as:

  • Charles Henry (1st) 24th July 1873
  • Rosetta 3rd May 1876
  • Frank 13th April 1905

Charles Henry(2nd) Lutman a schoolboy aged 9  Staying at Brokenheugh Cottages,  Hexham. with  Cecil Temperley (a tractorman) and Jane his wife. Other residents have been redacted since they may still be alive. Probably Charles has been evacuated here for the war.

In 1936 an article appeared in the Evening Chronicle about Charles William (2nd ) Lutman.He had been flying a large scale model of  an aeroplane with a wingspan of 4’ 6” , said to incorporate revolutionary and powerful features during a competition with the Newcastle Model Aero Club on the town moor. After climbing to 800 feet the plane had disappeared in the direction of the Royal Victoria Infirmary and was later found in Strawberry Lane having been in the air for around an estimated 45 minutes and thus reckoned to have beaten the current record by seven minutes. The plane had incorporated the ‘bird theory’ and thermal gliding principles, and at first when it disappeared it was suspected of having been stolen for the revolutionary ideas it incorporated. Charles William (2nd) decided to patent these improvements.

Two articles about Charles William (2nd ) Lutman

Newcastle Journal 06 October 1936      Newcastle Evening Chronicle 19 Nov 1940

1940. A visit to Lutman’s model making factory had been made by the reporter who described seeing highly detailed models including a Spitfire and a Messerschmidt B.F.W.M.E 109. As well as being in great demand by schools and boys alike there had also been high demand from R.A.F. depots all over the country for these models, many being used as mascots in the real planes. These models were made up of over 300 individual parts and built exactly to scale. Mr Lutman had been designing and building model aircraft since he was a young boy and he said that 3 years previously one of his planes had flown from Newcastle Town Moor round Shiremoor to Forest Hall making a three hour non-stop flight. This was a world record.

1940  Death of Charles Henry (1st ) Lutman

At Leazes Wing, RVI Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne.  Age: 67 

Described as Spring works manager. C W Lutman in attendance 8 Fairfield Road. Son, 

1969 Death of Charles William (2nd) Lutman

Death of Charles William Lutman (1898) 29th Oct 1969 of   729 West Road, Newcastle death at RVI Newcastle from a. Exsanguination, b. Ruptured aortic aneurism lnformant – Charles Henry, son.

Probate Charles William(2nd) LUTMAN 7th Jan 1970

Charles Henry (2nd) Lutman b. 1930

Born on 15th July 1930 at Ashington  the son of Charles William(2nd) Lutman,  Charles Henry (2nd) known to his friends as Charlie, was another keen aviator. This time however it was not just an interest in model aeroplanes but instead a desire to fly the real things. Charles Henry (2nd) Lutman obtained his pilot’s licence in 1948 at the early age of 17 ½ years claiming to be the youngest pilot in the country as reported in the local press.

Charles’ Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate 1948.

On 21st July 1954 Charles Henry (2nd) Lutman passed out as a pilot in the University Squadron, at RAF Feltwell in Norfolk.

Charles front row 1st on left (recorded incorrectly on photo).

Jan 1949

RAF, Wittering, Northamptonshire, England. 607 Squadron No 25 Pilot Course

RAF Wittering located in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, is the main operating base and headquarters for the RAF A4 Force and is a major Station for flying training. The A4 Force deploys the vital engineering and logistic support needed to sustain RAF operations and exercises around the world, from explosive ordnance disposal to catering, and aircraft repair to ground transport vehicles.

Jun 1956

International Netherlands Trophy was presented to Charles for winning the event.

1957 Worked as a pilot with BKS airlines from Newcastle Airport known as BKS Air Transport until 1970 when it became Northeast Airlines (NEA) – – it was an airline based in the United Kingdom that operated from 1952 until 1976, when NEA’s operations and fleet were merged into British Airways.

1961  on 23rd Oct at Saint Anne’s Church, Dunbar. Charles Henry (2nd) married. Banns were read by Rev Edmund Ivens . Her parents living at 41 High Street, Dunbar. Charles Henry (2nd) Lutman married Patricia Barnett. Patricia (Pat) was from the Barnett family who  many will recall owned the High Class grocery business on St.Georges Terrace in Jesmond.

Charles’ wife Pat worked for many years running the Model Shop.

Board of Directors for Model Shop

Pre – WWII advert. For Model Shop

Death Charles Henry Lutman Oct 1940 Q4

The Lutman family, proud of their family’s heritage with regards to the development of the Spitfire Plane subsequently opened the Lutman Aero Works which today manufactures half-size Lutman Spitfire MK XII’s for memorials and garden sculptures for enthusiasts.

Model kits produced by the Model Shop were of a very high quality compared to many others,  which allowed  model makers to build high-performance and detailed scale replicas. 

By the mid-60s Charles William (2nd) Lutman’s daughter-in-law, Pat, ran the shop at which his grandson (and Pat’s husband), Charles Henry (2nd) Lutman, a commercial airline pilot, sometimes assisted when not flying. Pat and Charles’s  two sons later joined the business.  

The Model Shop closed down in 2005 with sales of more than a million model aircraft during it’s  80 years reign in Newcastle managed by three generations of the Lutman family.

Charlie Lutman, the BKS pilot, was a very well-known local character in Gosforth , but developed extremely poor vision becoming partially sighted and had to stop flying.

Charles Henry Lutman (2nd)  Died 11th Oct 1995

At Conrad House, Newcastle On Tyne. Aged 65.  Home address-Whintings, Tranwell Woods.

Copyright David Wardell

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Ian Lennox Gosforth Author Spotlight!

Westfield Avenue Ian Lennox Gosforth Author Spotlight

It is one of the most intriguing notions when we research a house history to imagine what went on behind the front door. In this guest post, we are delighted to be able to give you a glimpse of life behind the door of one such house on Westfield Avenue.

Ian Lennox was brought up in the “leafy suburb of Gosforth” and is the author of several books including The Sixties Man and Bare Knuckle, based around Newcastle. Marley’s Weapon his latest novel is now available on Kindle.

Ian Lennox Gosforth Author Spotlight Marley's Weapon Book Cover

Marley’s Weapon

It’s the Sixties and newspapers are still enjoying a boom. Young reporters still knock on doors and dream of careers on the Nationals.

Noel Marley isn’t one of them. He seems content to be one of life’s losers and endures the sneers and sniggers of his ambitious colleagues.

Then one day, John Drury, one of the alpha males, humiliates him gratuitously in front of the whole office and Marley decides to fight back.

His choice of weapon is a clattering old typewriter that sounds like a machine gun. Marley’s Weapon doesn’t use bullets, just words.

Drury writes reviews and features. Marley writes letters to the paper attacking them. He knows he’s winning the battle. But can he win the war and launch a new career?

We are sure like us you are eager to read more, so here is the link! 

Please read on and enjoy the colourful memories Ian has of teenage life and early adulthood in Gosforth.

The Magistrates Court

I was eighteen years old when I was sent to cover my first magistrates court at North Shields. The youth in the dock was charged with burglary and I stared at him and thought, ‘Hmmm, so this is what a criminal looks like.’

A few months later I was pursued outside the same court by three ladies of the night who shouted ‘Just because you’re big don’t think you’re tough. We’ll get the dockers on to you.’

Not surprisingly, I suppose, they objected to free publicity in the evening paper about their activities.

I mention these two anecdotes to emphasise the hapless state I found myself in after my upbringing in the leafy suburb of Gosforth. There was a world going on outside which no one had told me about.

Gosforth wasn’t entirely an island of innocence. I seem to remember one lady about whom there were whispers, that spread to even my virginal ears. Indeed, her reputation for being a bit of a goer was sharply enhanced when by chance we were passengers in a car which was driven past a past a building site.

 ‘Good God! That man’s got a TORSO,’ she exclaimed. I followed her gaze to a large shirtless workman shovelling cement. Hmmm!

Westfield Avenue

Westfield Avenue taken some years ago Copyright Ian Lennox

I lived in Westfield Avenue, in a fourteen roomed terraced house in which each door had its own sound shutting. The front door was never locked. We never felt the need. In any case my father, a former England University rugby player, was worth about three pit bulls as evidenced one night when some youthful party goer foolishly threw an orange through his bedroom window. I, who had been fully clothed, emerged first into a silent empty street. My father who had had to dress and smash his way through three doors and a hat stand, followed five seconds later ready to fight anyone or even a lamppost if there was nothing else.

 ‘Search the gardens,’ he roared.

Seconds later, a trembling young man emerged with his hands above his head. He offered to repair the window that afternoon in exchange for his life. He kept his word and my father later declared he ‘was quite a nice chap, actually.’

Occasionally my father gave me a glimpse of his rugby playing days. It seemed to involve lots of fighting on the pitch and lots of friendship and drinking off it.

One time, the local sports reporter got so drunk he couldn’t write his copy. He asked my dad to send in a report. ‘So I did,’ dad told me. He paused. ‘Mind you, I had a hell of a game.’

The 1950s

Cars were far between in the fifties and we played in the street. At the bottom of our road, Westfield stretched down to Oaklands creating part of the crossroads on which there was wasteland on each corner.  Grass and nettles grew three feet or more and this is where we played as happy as posh pagans. Just William wasn’t in it.

Large concrete anti-tank blocks stretched along one plot. Across the adjacent Dukes Moor, the blocks stretched right up the Grandstand Road. We used to leap from one to another. I had no knowledge of tactics for tank warfare, but as far as I could judge, the blocks seemed designed to send invading Panzers up the Grandstand Road and far away from my house.

It was on the Dukes Moor that I was stricken hopelessly with my first and most potent romance. For weeks I’d adored a girl at school but was too shy to approach her ethereal presence.  I was seventeen and one Saturday I went to watch a gymkhana on the moor despite feeling vaguely threatened by horses who seemed to have large teeth and larger feet. Suddenly the girl appeared from the Grandstand Road end with her two sisters. She spotted me from 100 yards and waved a vigorous welcome. We sat side by side chatting all afternoon and I remember the elder sister, who must have been in her early twenties smiling in approval. I had an innocent, angelic face and she must have estimated that I was at least a year away from being a moral threat to her pretty sister.

She was correct. I think we lasted one chaotic date, but hell, the journey was more important than the destination and the surge of joy when she waved to me that afternoon sustained me through many a future ephemeral relationship.

Musical Prodigy?

My mother’s parents were wealthy and they lived in a huge house in Osbaldeston Gardens.  They had three children and a grand piano (and other things, obviously!) My mum was a brilliant pianist, as was her brother James Gibb who went on to play at the proms and become a professor at the Guildhall School of Music in London. My mum inherited the piano and during the war it served as a bomb shelter for yours truly at our home in Sanderson Road, Jesmond. That was the only use I had for it, unfortunately. My mother, whose heart, obviously ruled her head and all other critical faculties, decided that I had ‘pianist’s hands.’ I was sent for lessons at my prep school where my uncle Jimmy had formerly been a pupil. I believe the poor woman who taught me knew of my pedigree and must have dreamed of great things as the ‘prodigy’ strode in for his first lesson. If I was writing the incident as fiction, I would have her sobbing quietly after ten minutes, and writing my end-of-term report with the words, ‘quite good at rugby.’

Ian Lennox Gosforth Author Spotlight
Mrs. Lennox (Ian’s mum) and the Grand Piano at Osbaldeston Gardens copyright Ian Lennox

Dedication to Louisa

As Fiona mentioned in a prelim post I have just finished my seventh novel. It’s called Marley’s Weapon and is set in a newspaper office in the Sixties. One of the important characters is an old lady called Nan. When writing fiction, sometimes you base characters on real people without realising it. Nan is more than an echo of Louisa who came from an impoverished background before starting work as a maid for my grandmother. She and mum became the closest friends and Louisa was the sweetest kindest, most generous soul I met in my life. Her fiancé was killed in the Great War. I think I was the son she never had. When I was about fifteen, I rode home from school each lunch time. One day she took a picture of me and I one of her. These are they. 

Ian Lennox Gosforth Author Spotlight in the garden aged 15
Ian Lennox (Author) Aged 15 copyright Ian Lennox
Ian Lennox Gosforth Author Spotlight Louisa in the garden
Louisa copyright Ian Lennox

I am 77 now and Louisa died fifty years ago. I and my sisters visit her grave every year. The family told me that there is a picture of me buried with her. Did I mind? NO!

Marley’s Weapon is probably my last novel and I have dedicated it to Louisa in the opening pages. It seems a good beginning and a good end.

Copyright Ian Lennox

Marley’s Weapon

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Gosforth Grandstand

Grandstand Building in Gosforth Discovering Heritage blog.

Timeline 1632 – 2020

We wish to thank David Wardell for sharing his notes on the history of the grandstand buildings from which Grandstand Road in Gosforth Newcastle takes its name. We have used David’s notes to compile this timeline. The Gosforth Grandstand Timeline gives a concise and easy to read history of this interesting area beginning with racing on the Town Moor in 1632 and ending with five businesses that trade from it today in 2020.

  • 1632

  • Racing in Newcastle is first recorded in 1632 when the Newcastle Corporation paid £20 for ‘two silver potts’ to be raced for on Killingworth Moor. There was also an unsuccessful attempt to stage races at Shieldfield in the 17th century.

  • 1721

  • The Town Moor became a racing venue in 1721, and races continued at both sites throughout the 18th century, but the Town Moor attracted more significant events due to its position next to the North Turnpike Road. The last race at Killingworth was in 1794.

    The Town Moor racecourse was just under 2 miles long. The track was triangular, largely unfenced and partially flattened by ground improvement works. There were two entrances to the course, wealthy race-goers arriving in carriages paid to enter the grandstand and enclosures from the turnpike at the northern end. Visitors on foot came for free at the southern end onto the racing ground itself.

  • 1800

  • Facilities were mostly temporary, consisting of marquees and wooden structures until in 1800 a permanent stone grandstand was built at the north end of the racecourse. It was paid for by subscription, allowing subscribers free entry. The grandstand was damaged by fire in 1844 but immediately rebuilt. Other stands and buildings were added during the 19th century. It also served as a hotel.

  • 1881

  • By the end of the century changes in racing were occurring, with the construction of fully enclosed racecourses where everyone paid an entrance fee. Consequently, the racecourse was moved in 1881 to Gosforth Park (HER ref. 4246), the last race at the Town Moor being in the summer of 1881.

  • 1882

  • The summer meeting on the Town Moor was replaced in 1882 by a Temperance Festival which still occurs and is known as The Hoppings. Some earthwork traces survive of the racecourse. Following the closure of the course in 1881, the Grandstand building was taken over by the Roman Catholic authorities, and after carrying out extensive alterations was used as an Industrial school for boys from 1882 (The Bishop Chadwick Memorial School).

    1898 Map showing Chadwick Memorial School On the site of Kwikfit corner of Kenton Road / Grandstand Road.

  • 1903

  • It is recorded that early flights and flying experiments were carried out on the Town Moor by Charles W Lutman. Mr Lutman was a highly skilled local model maker. He imported balsa wood and was the early originator of the well-known Model Shop in Newcastle at various sites.

    After The Chadwick Memorial School left the Dukesmoor site, the premises were used as a riding school for some time.

  • 1910

  • From 1910 to 1912 the buildings became part of a public roller skating rink which was housed in a 300 ft large curved roof timber extension to the original grandstand building.

  • 1913

  • Newcastle Journal 20 April 1914

    An aircraft factory was established at Duke’s Moor by Armstrong-Whitworth and Sir W G Armstrong in 1913. They received contracts to build aircraft under license from the war office. RAF BE.2a machines (biplanes), followed by BE.2b and later BE.2c machines were built. The factory was established by taking over the building which had served as the grandstand at the old Newcastle racecourse.

    The two-story building, built of stone in 1827 at the western edge of the moor had been left behind when the town race meeting was moved from the Newcastle Town Moor to nearby Gosforth Park in 1882.

    Compiled with reference to

  • 1926

  • The Dukes Moor premises were taken over by Lawson’s for a confectionery factory. They appear in telephone directories from 1926 until 1948. (In the tel.directories they are shown as at Grandstand Buildings, Kenton Road).

    Earliest Tel Directory entry for Lawson’s 1926….Grandstand Buildings

    Newcastle Evening Chronicle 11 October 1926Lawson’s Chocolates are the “draw” to attract people to the Ballroom

    Newcastle Evening Chronicle 09 October 1940 Advert for Young Girls for Factory

    Lawsons had a confectionery shop in Northumberland Street in the city.

  • 1930

  • A proposal was made to convert the factory into a massive ice rink, but this never succeeded.

    Lawson’s factory moved to Horatio Street in Newcastle in the late ’40s or early ’50s. A warehouse was retained in Gosforth at the rear of the West side of the High Street.

  • 1963

  • The factory premises at Grandstand Rd. were later developed as H.Robinson’s Grandstand Garage in 1963 till 1965 or later (Motor Engineers- previously at St.Nicholas Avenue – Volkswagen, also H & G Robinson), later Minories Garage. It subsequently became the Dukes Moor Garage and was linked with a Garage of the same name that replaced the Grove Garage on the corner of Roseworth Avenue and Gosforth High Street.

  • 2020

  • A Kwik Fit auto repair centre now occupies the main part of the site, and the other part remains as The Dukes Moor Garage, a second-hand car dealership. Part of these premises is stone-built and is probably the remains of the original Grandstand building.

    THE LAKES DISTILLERY COMPANY LIMITED is found above these premises at 1 st Floor, Grandstand Garage Kenton Road Gosforth Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE3 4NB

    MGS INVESTMENT PROPERTIES LIMITED (10635769) 1st Floor Offices, Grandstand Garage, Kenton Road, Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, NE3 4NB

    TROUT HOTELS (CUMBRIA) LIMITED (02304994) 1st, Floor Offices Grandstand Garage, Kenton Road Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne And Wear, NE3 4NB

Copyright David Wardell

Discovering Heritage

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

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Discovering Heritage Armstrong Whitworth Factory

Duke’s Moor

An aircraft factory was established at Duke’s Moor by Armstrong-Whitworth and Sir W G Armstrong in 1913. They received contracts to build aircraft under license from the war office. RAF BE.2a machines (biplanes), followed by BE.2b and later BE.2c machines were built. The factory was established by taking over the building which had served as the grandstand at the old Newcastle racecourse. The two-story building, built of stone in 1827 at the western edge of the moor, had been left behind when the town race meeting was moved from the Newcastle Town Moor to nearby Gosforth Park in 1882. 

Other guest posts

The Duke’s moor was a long, narrow strip of land measuring 600 x 150 yards. It was lined by both trees and houses which made it unsuitable as an aerodrome but was chosen as the factory location nevertheless. At the outbreak of War in August 1914, the war office instructed Armstrong-Whitworth to extend their works and placed an order for 250 BE.2c biplanes. An erecting shop, three-bay hangar, a wood store and engine testing shed were built. A concrete platform led to the Aerodrome on Duke’s Moor.

Newcastle Libraries B.E.2c Aircraft 1915 Gosforth
B.E.2c aircraft Gosforth 1915

When flying activities started from Town Moor, they appear to have been initially conducted from the west end of Duke’s moor, which itself is part of Newcastle Town Moor, but the site was not considered to be “sufficiently safe”.

  Samuel Frank Cody

The well-known pioneer aviator Col. Samuel Franklin Cody had earlier experimented with aircraft at Newcastle Town Moor. A flamboyant showman, Samuel Franklin Cody, was often confused with Buffalo Bill Cody whose surname he took when young claiming (quite wrongly) that he was related. Samuel Franklin Cody was killed in an air crash at Fleet in August. 

Newcastle Evening Chronicle 07 August 1913
Newcastle Evening Chronicle 07 August 1913

New Activity Reported In Gosforth

In early 1914, the Newcastle Evening Chronicle captured activity at the new factory by reporting the following in their 4th February edition –

“People passing the large building near the Town Moor edge at Gosforth formerly used as a skating rink have remarked on the activity going on within the premises and have been curious to know the nature of the industry for which the rink has afforded accommodation. As is generally known, the building was secured by Messrs Armstrong, Whitworth & Co a little while ago for the development of their aeroplane business and now the interior of the place has a very busy appearance. It is stated that the firm is, at the present time building eight aeroplanes for the British Government”.

The Chief Designer of the factory was a Dutchman, Frederick Koolhoven. His first plane for Armstrong-Whitworth was the FK.1 which made its maiden flight in September 1914. However, the aircraft was never produced. 

Between November 1914 and March 1915, 1 Squadron RNAS C Flight was based here, equipped with four Bristol TB.8s. 

Koolhoven’s next plane was the FK.2. A modified version of this, the FK.3 was produced from April 1916 and upgraded with a powerful 120 horsepower Bearmore engine from June 1914. Armstrong-Whitworth’s more successful plane design was the FK.8, a two-seater Corps reconnaissance aircraft. 

On October 23rd 1914 1Sqn ‘C’ Flight of Royal Naval Air Service with four Bristol TB.8’s moved to Duke’s Moor with the personnel billeted in the adjacent Kenton Lodge. The flight’s task was to fly coastal patrols, scouting for any incursion by enemy vessels, though there is little record of its activities. The flight moved to Whitley Bay in January 1915. 

The aerodrome remained in use until June 1916 when it was declared unsafe. Though the factory remained, a new aerodrome was established on the Newcastle Town Moor with Armstrong Whitworth bearing half the cost (approx. £600). Flight testing was transferred to the new aerodrome. 

Koolhoven left the company in 1917 and was replaced by F. Murphy, who designed two aircraft – the Armadillo and the Ara but, neither made it into production. The Armstrong-Whitworth Air Department closed in October 1919, having made 1075 aircraft. 

New Aerodrome on Town Moor

A new aerodrome was set up in the North-East corner of Town Moor, (suitably convenient to the factory in Gosforth), in June 1916 and this was later used or taken over as the RFC No.9 AAP (Aircraft Acceptance Park)

The Armstrong Whitworth Aero plant at Gosforth, near Newcastle, was known as No 9 Aircraft Acceptance Park. Often, new aircraft were transported by rail to an Acceptance Park in sections, where they were assembled. Aircraft Acceptance Parks were also used to store the flight-tested machines until they were required in the field. 

Newcastle 9 AAP opened on August 1st 1917 to handle Armstrong Whitworth and later, Sanderson-built FK8s and B.F.s. It was classed as 1 Section Park (the smallest category – total Newcastle output was only about 2500 machines). It was re-designated 9 (Newcastle) AAP on October 12th. Towards the end of the war, it also handled Sopwith Cuckoos from Blackburn and Pegler. The Town Moor aerodrome measured some 750×750 yards, not all of which was suitable for take-off/landing. 

Bristol F2B fighter Gosforth Newcastle libraries
Bristol F2B fighter produced towards the end of WW1

There was a 1916 pattern G.S. shed plus 3 Bessonneau hangars. Bessonneau hangars were used by the French Aéronautique Militaire and adopted by the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. They were portable aircraft hangars constructed of timber and canvas. The H.Q. for 9 AAP was situated at 2 Osborne Terrace.

Gala Sports Meeting

An advertisement in the Newcastle Journal in July 1917 heralded a Charity Gala Sports Meeting at Little Moor Aerodrome in aid of the Royal Flying Corps Widows and Orphans fund. A grand military event with a military band, flying exhibition and a host of entertainment.

Newcastle Journal 07 July 1917

Newcastle Aircraft Exhibition

The Newcastle Daily Chronicle on 15th February 1919 reported on the Royal Airforce Aircraft Exhibition at no.9 (Newcastle) Aircraft Acceptance Park at Gosforth with visitor numbers reaching some 1800 people. RAF personnel had been happy to explain the aircraft intricacies in fine detail.

Newcastle Daily Chronicle 15 February 1919

Hebburn Colliery Prize Silver Band provided music, and two of the largest dirigibles (airships), namely N.S.7 and N.S.8 scheduled a visit. These airships provided some flights and some displays of parachute jumping. The dirigibles flew in from East Fortune on the Firth of Forth.

Flying Circus

Following on from Armstrong Whitworth the Berkshire Aviation Company used the aerodrome as a ‘Flying Circus’ venue from December 1st until December 21st 1919. The venture must have been a great success to stay here for such a long period – or perhaps they were desperate to drum up enough custom to afford to move on!! Their later ‘Flying Tours’ rarely stayed more than two days with just one day being the usual time spent at most locations. 

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle (via its Illustrated Chronicle) offered readers a chance of free flights by submitting a coupon printed in the paper. Details were entered into a draw. Twelve lucky winners were awarded free flights. 

Newcastle Daily Chronicle December 11th 1919
Evening Chronicle December 8th 1919

A limited number of flights were made available for sale costing from one guinea. Flights could be booked at Windows in the Central Arcade in Newcastle or at the aerodrome itself. An advertisement for this stated that ‘it was warmer in the air than down below’. Flights took place from 10.30 in the morning until darkness descended.

Newcastle Evening Chronicle December 08th 1919 Newcastle Daily Chronicle November 28th 1919 pic

Town Moor Aerodrome Sold

The aerodrome on the Town Moor side of Grandstand Road was sold at auction in March 1920. The General Service pattern hangar sold for £2,100.


(from a newspaper report)

On Friday, April 08th 1921 the large shed used for the assembly of aircraft and formerly the roller skating rink, was attacked by Sinn Fein and was set ablaze, burnt down and entirely gutted. The flames could be seen for miles, and spectators flocked to the Town Moor and Grandstand Road to witness the blaze. It was one of a series of attacks in and around the city at that time.

The buildings and land still belonged to the Roman Catholic Church in Newcastle. It was adjacent to the old racecourse grandstand and was a long shed with a curved roof used for assembling planes. It was first built as a roller skating rink. The Roman Catholic Community had intended to use the shed at another school in Newcastle as a covered playground. The shed was 100 feet x 60 feet and about 65 feet high. It was entirely made of timber and tarpaulin, was well creosoted and had also been used as a paint store. Inside it was well soaked with oil and petrol from the aircraft. It was thus highly flammable. It had been dismantled towards the end of 1920 with some aircraft parts remaining on site. 

copyright David Wardell

Discovering Heritage

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