Posted on Leave a comment

Where Do Your Family Origins Lie?

Barrington Colliery. Where are your family orgins? Discovering Heritage

Northumberland Ancestors

As family historians working in the North East, we are lucky to have opportunities to study our Northumberland ancestors.

Where do your family origins lie? Well in this post we trace the Kidd family origins back to the 18th century. We thoroughly enjoyed researching this family history, and we are delighted that our client has kindly allowed us to share the story here. In February 2020, we began to research the family history through the paternal line of the Kidd family. The family have a long history of involvement with the mining industry in Northumberland.

Our story begins on Regent Farm estate, 2020, in Gosforth, Newcastle; in a house that stands on the site of the old Prince Regent Pit. We travel back one hundred and sixty-nine years to a very different era and location, and find the family origins in 1790’s London.

Prince Regent Pit

The Prince Regent Pit was part of Coxlodge colliery, and coals from Coxlodge commanded a high price while mining was viable. The mine stopped working in 1894, and local miners found work in other pits in the region.

Spoil heaps remained on the site until used and recycled in the construction of a runway for Newcastle Airport. For years after the closure of the pit, its presence and memories were felt strongly in the community.

On one occasion on Friday, April 5, 1912, the Newcastle Daily Chronicle reported under the heading

Local Miners Sports:


“Yesterday afternoon in a field at the Regent Pit, the officials of the colliery, with the assistance of some of their workmen, held pit pony races. A large number of workmen and their families attended.”

Patricia Slinger

Patricia Slinger was born in March 1930 she was the daughter of Robert William Kidd and Mary Constance Leathard. Her parents’ families were both involved with the mining industry. When she was nine years old, Paricia lived with her parents in Broomhill Northumberland, close to the North Sea.

Northumberland Family History

Robert William Kidd

At this time (1939) her father Robert William Kidd worked as a foreman colliery fitter. Robert was also involved with the industrial fire service perhaps in a voluntary capacity as a result of World War Two. During the war, and keeping a coastal location the family lived at the School House in Hauxley. Robert kept a gun with bullets fearing a German invasion, and also retained maps of the location of the mines along the coast.

Robert never used the gun, but Hauxley did have its share of wartime action.

A news article in The Morpeth Herald on Friday, October 6, 1944, reported that two Hauxley fishermen were returning from the fishing grounds when they saw an airman parachuting into the sea. Several planes were circling nearby.


“The airman was rapidly being carried out to sea and though their boat was much too small to be expected out [at] sea the men turned to where the airman was dropping and managed to pull him aboard. The airman, suffering from a fractured arm and shock, was taken to hospital.”

When Robert retired from the National Coal Board in 1965, he received a very appreciative; letter from Mr C Bewick of the North Northumberland Area of the NCB. After a working life that involved several changes of address, Robert retired to live in Kendar Grove Morpeth he passed away in 1975.

Where do your family origins lie? Discovering Heritage Family History.
Robert & Mary Kidd outside their daughter’s home in Regent Farm, Gosforth.

Luke Kidd 1872 – 1952

Robert’s father was a man called Luke Kidd; who was born on November 30 1872. Luke was the eldest child of Robert and Isabella Shotton Kidd (nee Gibson). As a child, Luke lived with his family in colliery housing at Bedlington (1881) and Sleekburn (1891), in Northumberland. In 1898 Luke married Hannah Isabella Elliott and settled at Sleekburn Colliery where he was employed as a colliery fitter. A fitter was engaged at a colliery on the installation, maintenance and repair of the colliery’s mechanical apparatus.

The couple had three children Margaret Isabella (born 1899), Robert William (born November 7 1900) and Gladys (born 1909).

By 1911 the family were living in the mining village of Bomarsund, Northumberland, with Luke employed as a colliery enginewright. The 1939 register – a record made to register the entire adult population for registration cards in advance of World War Two – records Luke and Hannah living at 41 West Terrace, Stakeford, Northumberland, with Luke employed as a colliery engine fitter. We believe that Luke Kidd died in Newcastle in 1952.

Robert Kidd 1845 -1910

Robert Kidd, Patricia’s great grandfather was the last of five children of Luke and Elizabeth Kidd was born at East Sleekburn, Bedlington, Northumberland, in 1845.

In 1851 the family were living at West Sleekburn in the house of Robert’s uncle, John Hoy. By 1861 the household, again headed by John Hoy, was residing at Barrington Colliery. Robert, then aged 15, is recorded as a joiner’s apprentice. Barrington Colliery opened in 1821. By 1871 Robert, an unmarried enginewright was head of a household that he shared with his parents at Barrington Colliery.

Where do your family origins lie? Discovering Heritage Barrington Colliery photo .
Barrington Colliery

Marriage Warkworth Northumberland

On April 6, 1871, Robert married Isabella Shotton Gibson at the Northumberland coastal village of Warkworth. The couple went on to have ten children, two of whom, Thomas (born 1873 – died 1875) and George William (born 1885 – died 1886) died in infancy. The surviving children were Luke (born November 30 1872); Barbara Gibson (born 1875); John Thomas (born 1877); James Robert (born 1879); Elizabeth Mary (born 1882); Anna Isabella (born 1884); William (born 1888) and Christopher Septimus (born 1891).

In 1881 the family were living at Bedlington Colliery – Robert was employed as a colliery enginewright. Ten years later, in 1891, the family had moved to Sleekburn Colliery – Robert was again working as a colliery enginewright.

West Sleekburn Colliery

A little note reminds us just how dangerous occupations in mining could be at this time. Between 1893 and 1901 there were six fatal accidents at Sleekburn Colliery. Durham Mining Museum records include the death of fourteen-year-old John Moore.

“He had neglected to put in the third sprag in the set, or failed to do so owing to the tubs going too fast, and, the pony falling at the bottom of the bank, he was thrown against the side ”

The Kidd family remained at Sleekburn in 1901. Robert Kidd passed away in 1910.

London Origins

Luke Mason Kidd (circa 1797-1882)

In 1797 we meet Patricia’s great-great-grandfather Luke Mason Kidd. Luke Mason was born about 1797 in London. By 1831 he was married to Elizabeth Hoy and had his first child, a daughter called Elizabeth. The family were living in the Bedlington area of Northumberland at this time. Luke and Elizabeth went on to have a further four children John (born 1833); Mary born at Bedlington in 1836; Thomas born at Bedlington in 1841 and Robert, also born in Bedlington in 1845.

The 1841 census revealed the family living at East Sleekburn, Northumberland, and noted Luke Kidd’s occupation as a flax dresser. A flax dresser worked with an instrument called a hackle which was used to separate the coarse part of the flax plant in readiness for spinning in the linen industry.

By 1851 the family were living in the household of John Hoy, brother of Elizabeth Kidd, at West Sleekburn. Luke is noted as a former flax dresser, now labourer. The 1861 census records Luke Kidd, a storekeeper at Barrington Colliery, as residing in the property of his son in law, Robert Parsons, a coal miner and husband of his daughter Mary, at Bedlington Colliery. Luke was likely visiting the family on census night. Luke’s wife Elizabeth and the rest of his family were residing with John Hoy at Barrington Colliery.

Where do your family origins lie? Discovering Heritage Kidd family gravestone

Luke Mason Kidd died at Barrington on November 13, 1882, aged 85. Elizabeth passed away on September 29, 1885, aged 79 years. The couple were buried in Choppington churchyard along with other family members. They are remembered on a gravestone in the churchyard.

In memory of Patricia Slinger (nee Kidd) 4/3/1930 – 25/4/2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.


We hope you enjoyed this trip into the past through the Kidd family line. If we can help in any way with your own family history we will be happy to talk to you. Our Family Folios create a deeply personal and visual connection to your ancestors.

Posted on 7 Comments

Salters Bridge Gosforth

Salters Bridge Gosforth Discovering Heritage

Salters Bridge in Gosforth is a twin-arched bridge crossing the Ouse Burn. The earliest phase of its construction is medieval. Studies show that there were at least three later stages of development, plus contemporary repairs.

Do you think that bridges are often overlooked? We hurtle over them in our cars and sometimes fail to notice we have crossed one. However, before the use of motor vehicles, for travellers on foot, or horse and waggon the crossing of a river could cause considerable risk, especially after heavy rains. A bridge could be a lifeline between communities and a necessity for the cross country delivery of supplies.

The names of Salters Bridge carrying Salters Way over the Ouseburn and nearby Salters Road suggest that these roads were found along the route taken by the old Salters as they moved salt from the salt pans on the coast. 

Listed Grade 1 Scheduled Ancient Monument.


In the distant times of the 13th century acquiring salt from the sea was a principal occupation. Until the late 18th century, there were salt pans at Seaton Sluice, and from 1236 there were salt works at Blyth owned by the monks of Newminster Abbey near Morpeth. Salt was obtained by the evaporation of seawater by burning coal.

In those days, salt was a vital commodity used for far more than flavouring food. Salt was used to preserve meat and cure fish.

Salters carried their loads inland from coastal areas for delivery to monasteries and other places in the hills. 

The Salter’s Tracks

There were several tracks used by the Salters. A track called Salter’s Peth ran through Hollywell Dene from Seaton Sluice also running through Earsdon and Longbenton. It crossed the Ouseburn at Raundelsbrygge (Salters Bridge). The track continued through Gosforth Colliery in what we recognise today as South Gosforth, past Haddricks Mill and St Nicholas Church, on its route towards Coxlodge via Salters Lane (Salters Road), before heading out into Northumberland. Salters Road has a long history in Gosforth.

Running over the Town Moor to Two Ball Lonnen was another ancient Salter’s track. This track continued to Denton, Lemington and over the Tyne ferry to Stella and eventually to Slaley and Blanchland Abbey. A Salters Road is still marked on maps of the Cheviots telling us that Salters travelled far and wide into Northumberland.

It is a sad state of affairs today when our traditional pubs are under threat, their heritage stretches back so many centuries. The Shoulder of Mutton Inn standing on the site of Dickinson Crescent (before that at the bottom of Salters Road), would have served a useful purpose for these travellers in those days.

Gosforth Woods

Perhaps at Salters Bridge, we can still feel the essence of Gosforth in earlier times. Having kept its countryside appearance it pleasantly reminds us that Gosforth was once rural in aspect with good farmlands and woods that used to grow over the area.

Thank you for dropping by, we hope you enjoyed your visit! Discovering Heritage are a team of historical researchers with expertise in residential and local history.

You can hire our researchers by the hour. Our House Histories, Family Folios and Reports are presented in bespoke illustrated packs with oodles of historical information. Individually researched and totally unique!

Posted on 25 Comments

Fred Gee of Gosforth

Fred Gee of Gosforth Empire Gas Generator Works and Gosforth Garage

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

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

Early Life in Yorkshire

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

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

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

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

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

The Gees and the Whiteleys were very much related.

Calverly Gee Botanical Brewing Gosforth

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

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

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

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

6 Hawthorn Road Gosforth

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

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

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

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

Carriage Proprietor & Botanical Brewer

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

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

Fred Gee  North Brunton Farm , Gosforth  1925 telephone directory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gee Sykes and Cook

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

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

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

Low Fell

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

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

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

Fred, Norman, and Walter Gee

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

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

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

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

Newcastle Chronicle 29 July 1939

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

Walter Gee

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

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

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

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

Garage Proprietor Director/secretary (Ltd. Company)

Walter Gee died aged 58 in December 1953. 

Further Thoughts

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

Research – copyright David Wardell

Photograph Empire Gas Generator Works and Gosforth Garage copyright Discovering Heritage

Discovering Heritage

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

Discovering Heritage banner

Posted on 1 Comment

Newcastle Guild of Cordwainers

We have pleasure in sharing (with permission) this piece of research focusing on the records of the Newcastle Guild of Cordwainers (boot and shoemakers). Our client is a freeman and a member of the Company of Cordwainers of Newcastle upon Tyne. She was keen to discover when the first of her family members was made a freeman and who that person was. It proved to be a fascinating piece of research.

Newcastle Guild of Cordwainers report Discovering Heritage

What was a Guild?

Guilds were trade organisations made up of men working in a single trade. There have been guilds or companies in Newcastle from medieval times.

What did it mean to be one of the Freemen of Newcastle?

Full guild members were granted freedom of the town. Freemen were involved in the commercial and political life of Newcastle at the highest level; a situation that remained until the 19th-century. Freemen formed the Town Corporation (or Council) until the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 introduced elections. Freedom also brought privileges to members, notably the right of herbage to graze cattle on the Town Moor.

How Did People Become Guild Members?

Three ways of gaining membership to a guild or company were

  • by apprenticeship (serving as an apprentice to a master of the guild),
  • by inheritance (entering the guild at the age of 21 as the son of a freeman)
  • by invitation (usually reserved for those supposed who could bring influence to the guild).

Freemen of Newcastle did not admit women until 2010. (Tyne & Wear Archives Service hold records on the Cordwainers Guild).

Studying The Guild Minute Books at Tyne & Wear Archives

Our client knew that her father, Ralph Thompson, was a guild member, but did not know of any family guild members before him. We began our research by looking through the sixth guild minute book, 1916-1978 (GU/CW/2/6) to find the admission of her father, Ralph Thompson.

We discovered that Ralph was the son of John Ralph Thompson who was admitted to the cordwainers guild on 12 May 1930. This reference to Ralph’s father suggests that he became a member of the guild by patrimony (because his father was a member); in other words, John Ralph was also a guild member.

We then looked through the fifth guild minute book, 1844-1915 (GU/CW/2/5) and found a reference to the admission of John Ralph Thompson, also by patrimony. The entry refers to the admittance of John Ralph, son of Robert Thompson to the Cordwainer’s guild on 28 May 1883. Robert Thompson was our client’s great grandfather.

Three Robert Thompsons!!!

The research then became more complicated. Searching further back through the guild minute books, we were able to find three possible entries of the correct period referring to the admission of Robert Thompsons, all with different fathers.

Entries were:

“26 January 1831 Robert Thompson late apprentice to William MacDougal, a free Brother of this Company was this day admitted to the freedom of the same …”

“25 August 1835 Robert Thompson son of John Thompson as a free brother of this company was this day admitted to his freedom in the same …”

“Robert, son of Richard Thompson, publican, of Newcastle, was apprenticed to William MacDougall, Cordwainer, of Newcastle, for seven years from 9 June 1823.”

At this stage, we were unsure which of the above entries referred to our clint’s great grandfather Robert Thompson. We, decided to consult, the 1871 census for help. The census indicated that Robert Thompson was born in Longbenton about 1815.

Last Will & Testament

We were able to locate and purchase a copy of Robert Thompson’s will thinking that it may provide details of family relationships that would support our research, which proved to be the case.

When the will arrived, we were able to see that it referred to two brothers of Robert Thompson – Ralph & John this led us to the next step in our research.

Newcastle Guild of Cordwainers research will portion Robert Thompson
Will of Robert Thompson

Related Articles

Longbenton Parish Records

We looked for Robert Thompson’s baptism record in Longbenton parish records. We found the baptism record of Robert, son of Richard Thompson, pitman, and his wife, Jane (nee Speedy) dated 8 April 1810. At this point, we had found our client’s great, great grandfather, Richard and linked him to the third contender in our list of possible ancestors.

The baptism entry records show that Robert was born on 24 February 1810. We were also able to find baptism records of six siblings to Robert, including brothers Ralph (baptised 1819) and John (baptised 1821). Although there is some discrepancy between the birthdate suggested in the census records and that given on the baptism entry, this is not unusual. There are often discrepancies with birthdates as indicated on census returns. During the period in question, this was the only baptism record of any child named Robert Thompson in the Longbenton parish records. We felt confident that we had found the correct entry because we also found the listings of known siblings.

Pitman and Publican

Interestingly the baptism entry records Richard Thompson, Robert’s father, to be a pitman yet the guild records record his occupation in 1823 to be a publican. It is not uncommon to see an occupation change and Robert himself had links to the public house trade. His will revealed that he was the owner of The Ravensworth Arms in Sandgate, Newcastle.

Newcastle Guild of Cordwainers research report by Discovering Heritage
Discovering Heritage Illustrated Report

Finding the baptism entry proved to us that Robert Thompson son of Richard was apprenticed to William MacDougall, Cordwainer, in 1823 and was admitted to the Cordwainers guild in 1831 having completed his apprenticeship. We had found the first Thompson family member to become a freeman of the town of Newcastle upon Tyne. Our client is the fourth generation member of the Newcastle Cordwainers Guild.

Discovering Heritage Research

The above is a summary of the research we have undertaken. In addition, we were able to find family members referred to in a variety of sources – civil registration records, directories, parish records and wills and were able to build up detailed profiles of family members. We presented our research in an illustrated report with additional ancestor profiles to provide a verified keepsake for the family.

As a postscript to our research, we discovered that our client has in her possession an apprentice piece boot made by Robert Thompson in 1830. She was previously unaware of the significance of the piece created by the first generation of her family to become a freeman. An apprentice piece was a miniature piece made by an apprentice to demonstrate the skills that he learnt during his apprenticeship.

Newcastle Guild of Cordwainers apprentice boot Piece.

For further information about the freemen of Newcastle see

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This research earned us a 5 star review on Google.

For History and Heritage, Family History or House History Commissions

please contact us here

Discovering Heritage Logo
Discovering Heritage
Posted on Leave a comment

Three Mile Bridge Gosforth

sketch of Three Mile Bridge Gosforth Discovering Heritage

Three Mile Bridge was a hamlet which consisted of a few houses on the north-west end of the old bridge known as Ouseburn bridge (1807). Today we may be familiar with the area of Gosforth known as Bridge Park which roughly speaking extends over the same spot. Although Bridge Park covers a relatively small area its locality has a rather interesting history. Owing primarily to the notable Mr Pigg and his folly.

The name Three Mile Bridge came later in the 1800s when the bridge became a recognised landmark on the road for coach travellers. 

At the beginning of the 19th century the hamlet of Three Mile Bridge boasted a school for boys, a farmer who was also a publican, a forge, and a joiners shop. Between the joiners shop and the forge was a pillar known as Pigg’s Folly. The route of the road at that time, crossed the Ouseburn and turned sharply to the left before passing through the hamlet of Three Mile Bridge. Pigg’s Folly stood in a crooked corner of the road. 

Discovering Heritage 1807 map of Gosforth showing Three Mile Bridge as Ouse Bridge
1807 map showing Ouse Bridge

Pigg’s Folly

Pigg’s Folly was a square stone pillar that stood twelve and a half feet high. The pillar was inscribed with three sun dials and some holy writing. The inscription at the bottom read as follows,

“Who would not love thee while they may,

Enjoy thee walking? For thy way

Is pleasure and delight; let such

As thee, choose thee, prize thee much.”

Mr Pigg 

During the reign of Charles II, history records that a man named Mr Pigg was in the habit of walking from his house in Newcastle to Three Mile Bridge every morning. He was a man of certain eccentricities and apparently erected the pillar as a “token of gratitude for the health and pleasure that he derived from his daily promenade.” To this end he had the column inscribed “with moral lessons for the benefit of all who travelled along the road.”

The eccentric Mr Pigg in his time was described as a rebel, and a very great enthusiast. He reportedly walked for miles at a time wearing a strait coat, a high crowned hat and carried a quarter-staff fitted with an iron fork. Apparently He was well known to King Charles II, the Duke of York and throughout the kingdom.

Help for the Poor

Upon his death John Pigg left three houses in Pilgrim Street for the relief of the poor and £5 per year to the clergyman at Earsdon. Pigg’s pillar was broken up when the road was straightened in 1829. The stone was reportedly used in the building of a wall for an adjoining garden.

1764 Highway Robbery 

Stepping back further to the eighteenth century another noteworthy event at Three Mile Bridge Gosforth is recorded in the Local Records.

In 1765 the 6th regiment of General Guise was quartered in Newcastle. A soldier of the regiment named Joseph Hall held up and attempted to rob a post-chaise shortly after it passed the Three Mile Bridge in Gosforth.

On September 11, 1764, a hairdresser named William Cuthbertson suffered an attack in his post-chaise. William was returning to Newcastle after visiting Morpeth. Shortly after passing the Three Mile Bridge, a pistol was fired at the driver.

The shot blew off the driver’s cap and burnt his face “in a terrible manner.” Some of the horses took fright and galloped away. Mr Cuthbertson managed to get away and raise the alarm. The villain now without his horse attempted to attack two other people who were on horseback. The pistol flash caused these horses and riders to bolt.

In the meantime, Mr Cuthbertson arrived at Three Mile Bridge and alerted the residents to the robbery. A group went in pursuit of the villain and succeeded in apprehending him. It turned out that the villain was Joseph Hall, a soldier who had turned his uniform inside out in an attempt to disguise himself. When Mr Hall was searched, he was found to be carrying two pistols and the driver’s cap.

On August 15th 1765 Joseph Hall was executed at Morpeth for highway robbery.

Three Mile Bridge

Three Mile Bridge is described in 1825 as being of narrow construction. The bridge had recessess in which pedestrians protected themselves from oncoming coaching traffic. Between 1825 and 1830 the bridge was taken down and a skew bridge built. The purpose was to widen and straighten the road to avoid the awkward left turn into the hamlet.

This bridge was the first skew bridge (A skew arch is a method of construction that enables an arch bridge to span an obstacle at some angle other than a right angle), built in Northumberland. It was built by Mr Gibson Kyle of Ponteland. 

1852 The Brandlings

The hamlet of Three Mile Bridge belonged to the Brandlings. In 1852 problems with the families coal interests led to the estate being sold at auction. Richard Welford records the sale of Three Mile bridge properties as follows: 

Cottages and Close at Three Mile Bridge consisting of 83/4 acres were sold to Mr Dove for the sum of £1,020.

Three Mile Bridge Farm consisting of 117 acres was sold to J. Laycock Esq for the sum of  £8,500.

Thank you for dropping by, we hope you enjoyed your visit! Discovering Heritage are a team of historical researchers with expertise in residential and local history.

How Can We Help You?

Our folios and packs make the perfect gift for that extra special occasion !

  • Birthdays
  • New Homes
  • Special Occasions
  • Holiday Cottage welcome packs
  • B&B/Hotel room packs

You can hire our researchers by the hour. Our House Histories, Family Folios and Reports are presented in bespoke illustrated packs with oodles of historical information. Individually researched and totally unique!

Discovering Heritage building logo
Discovering Heritage
Posted on Leave a comment

Gosforth Heritage Postcards

In this post we share a small selection of the Gosforth Heritage postcards in our collection.

Early Picture Postcards

In the 1890s the first picture postcards appeared in the UK. The cards were quite small, and the picture and correspondence shared one side. After 1902 one side of the postcard was used as an illustration and the other for writing and the address. The first postcards were quite small and known as court cards; eventually, the size changed. After 1902 it became a popular hobby to send postcards, at the cost of 1/2d (half an old penny) and save them. In an age before the prolific use of the telephone, let alone social media, it was an attractive way to keep in touch.

By the end of WW1, the craze had begun to decline, possibly helped by increased phone usage and rises in postage rates.

During the early years of the nineteenth century established postcard publishers and photographers processed a large assortment of view and novelty postcards. Postcards marked news events, advertised products, and promoted business. Collections of postcards provide a visual record of life from this time; they allow us a detailed glimpse at a past era.

West Avenue

Gosforth Heritage Postcard of West Avenue

This is an item from our postcard collection. This card is a view of West Avenue that has been colourised. This was a technique that became popular at the very end of the 19th century and continued until about 1930. It was thought to make postcards more attractive and increase sales. The colours used don’t necessarily reflect the actual colours of a scene. This postcard isn’t dated but probably dates from the first decade of the 20th century.

The Drive

Gosforth Heritage Postcard of The Drive taken from Gosforth High Street

This postcard shows a view of The Drive taken from Gosforth High Street. It is undated but was probably taken in the first decade of the 20th century. Looking down The Drive we can see the houses on the left hand side of the street but there don’t appear to be any on the right hand side.

Gosforth Tramway

The tram track can be seen on the foreground. Gosforth was linked to Wallsend by tramway in 1902 and to Newcastle in 1903. The houses on the High Street have railings and it is likely that they were removed during World War One. A horse and cart, probably making a delivery, can be seen further down The Drive but the quality of the image is such that we cannot see any signage on the cart. Barely visible is a man walking down The Drive towards the camera. 

The Grove

Gosforth Heritage Postcard of The Grove

This is a photograph of The Grove Gosforth with horses and carts and lovely street lamps. The cart in the middle of the picture is loaded up with packages.

Thank you for dropping by, we hope you enjoyed your visit! Discovering Heritage are a team of historical researchers with expertise in residential and local history.

Our folios and packs make the perfect gift for that extra special occasion !

  • Birthdays
  • New Homes
  • Special Occasions
  • Holiday Cottage welcome packs
  • B&B/Hotel room packs

You can hire our researchers by the hour. Our House Histories, Family Folios and Reports are presented in bespoke illustrated packs with oodles of historical information. Individually researched and totally unique!

Posted on 1 Comment

Davison’s Chemist Shop

Discovering Heritage research photo Davison's Chemsits shop Newcastle Libraries

At the beginning of the year, we posted a poll on Facebook and asked our followers if they would like us to research Gosforth pubs or Gosforth shops. The results were 60% to 40% in favour of shops, so this is our local history post about Davison’s Chemist shop and other traders at 201 Gosforth High Street.

Related Research

Davison’s Chemist Shop

The first record we found of a shop at this address was in 1913. Although Gosforth High Street at this time had a well developed local commercial centre, there were a few odd plots of land still standing vacant. The second edition ordnance survey map of 1898 shows an empty plot at the end of the Tramway building towards Woodbine Road. The 1913 Godfery Map of Gosforth shows a new structure in this space. We found three businesses trading from this building between 1913 and 1980, Davison’s Pharmacy, Public Benefit Boot Company and Crawford Bakers.

Initially at 127 Gosforth High Street, Davison’s Pharmacy moved trading premises in 1913 to number 201, which was on the opposite corner to the church situated at the Woodbine Road and High Street junction. Mr Davison did not live above the shop but at 38 Salters Road moving to 4 Regent Villas Salters Road by 1919.

Discovering Heriutage photo of Davison's Chemist Shop Gosforth High Street News Advert.

An advert in the Evening Chronicle edition on 14 September 1940 reads:

APPRENTICE and Unqualified Assistant Wanted immediately.—Apply Davison (Chemist) Ltd.. High Street, Gosforth. vacancy occurs …, age about 40, … Service Organisation as Resident Inspector to control connection factories anti workshops; position not a sales proposition, but permanency, and the necessary trainingtbe given successful applicant; wage commencing £4 per week plus travelling expenses.—Write stating age and previous experience to Box 586.

We see Davison’s trading here for twelve years until 1925, and by 1927 the Public Benefit Boot Company have moved in.

Public Benefit Boot Company

Public Benefit Boot Company were well-known with a chain of footwear shops throughout the UK. Interestingly they were so successful that in an attempt to save the brand, during the late 1800s local newspapers published adverts alerting the public to the trend of market stalls and other competitors calling themselves by the same or very similar names. 

A detailed and fascinating look into the history of this company is available at the Public Benefit Boot Company website, where we found the Gosforth shop recorded under the biographical section.

Disocvering Heritage photo AD of Public Benefit Boot Company 201 Gosforth  High Street

In 1928 Davison’s Pharmacy is recorded at 197 Gosforth High Street, and in 1929 the footwear shop changed its name to Public Boot Company. Directories show a further two name changes in 1950 to Benefit Footwear Ltd. and Benefit Footwear Ltd. Boot and Shoe Dealers in 1953. The last mention we have is in 1962 after an astonishing continual thirty-three years of trading at this Gosforth address.

D S Crawford Bakers Ltd.

We wonder if many of you remember Crawford Bakers? Another big name from the past. Records show Crawford Bakers at this address from 1968 until 1980 (and possibly beyond as this is where our research finished). 

Crawford Bakers originated in a small outlet at 14, Leith Street, Edinburgh in 1856, where they baked ship’s biscuits. Three generations of the Crawford family worked in the business with shortbread becoming the most well known of their biscuits. The company was eventually taken over by United Biscuits which ceased operating between 1984 and 1987.

In 1996 a news article was published about the “Bread Wars” highlighting the plight of independent bakers in the face of supermarket marketing strategies.

Crawford fought bravely against the supermarket discounting practices. In July 1990 a management buy-out from United Biscuits gave Crawford’s back its independence. However, continued pressure from in-store bakeries and discounted prices saw Crawford Bakers eventually close its doors in 1996. 

Design by WMDesign for Discovering Heriatge
House History Research

Property History Search

Our property history search offers estate agents and landlords a valuable tool in marketing opportunities. The promotion of commercial and residential properties, developments and land purchases can be enhanced by a history search on the property or local area.

Bespoke and Unique

Our highly bespoke service highlights unique details of an individual property or area. Every building is different, every house has a story, and every area has a particular history. By combining original architectural detail with historical information our history searches provide a beneficial facility for all residential and corporate property marketing.

Jan Forster Estates Gosforth High Street. Discovering Heritage research photo

201 High Street Gosforth today.

Posted on 2 Comments

Frederick Dendy of Jesmond

Discovering Heritage research photo Frederick Dendy Author of An Account of Jesmond

In June 2019 we published a blog about Richard Welford, author of “A History of the Parish of Gosforth’. We are following this with some research that we have undertaken into the life of Frederick Dendy, author of the 1904 publication “An Account of Jesmond”.

Frontpeice of Frederick Dendy's book An Account of Jesmond
An Account of Jesmond

Jesmond History

Frederick Dendy was a keen local historian and published several papers based on his research, many of which were published by The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne. His history of Jesmond was described by his friend and contemporary Dr H.H.E. Craster as “…the best of his works and the model of what a manorial history should be …”.

Early Life

Frederick Dendy was not a native of Newcastle. He was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in 1849. Frederick was privately educated and was then articled to his cousin, William Holt, a coroner at Great Yarmouth.

Arrival in Newcastle

In 1875 Frederick came north to Newcastle to work as a solicitor. In 1878 he entered into a partnership with Robert Spence Watson, a Quaker and Liberal. In the same year, Frederick married his first wife, Jessie Baumgartner. In 1899 Frederick was appointed Registrar of the Newcastle upon Tyne County Court and District Registrar of the High Court of Justice.

Sadly, Jessie Dendy died in 1904. In 1910 Frederick married his second wife, Honor Brooksbank. The 1911 census records Frederick and Honor Dendy living with two live-in servants at their home, Eldon House in Jesmond. Eldon House was situated in the Acorn Road/Osborne Road area.

Frederick and his second wife went on to have two children – Walter (born 1918) and Mary (born 1921).

Public Offices

Frederick held a number of public offices. During World War One he was Vice-Chairman, of the Northumberland Appeal Tribunal (Newcastle branch). The tribunal heard cases of men who either for reasons relating to their employment, family circumstances, medical condition or personal beliefs wanted to avoid conscription.

Other offices held included:

  • Under-Sheriff of Newcastle upon Tyne (1883 & 1893);
  • President of the Newcastle Law Society (1894);
  • Chairman of Newcastle upon Tyne Liberal Club;
  • President of Newcastle Angling Club;
  • Vice-President of Newcastle Literary & Philosophical Society
  • President of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (1931 & 1932).

Jesmond Old Cemetery

Frederick Dendy died on 19 December 1940 aged 91. He was buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery.

Mr Frederick Walter Dendy, DCL, Vice-Chairman, Northumberland APPEAL TRIBUNAL (Newcastle branch)

House Historians

We would love to hear from you if you would like Discovering Heritage to help uncover the story of your house. Our researchers have a wealth of experience in this area. We have undertaken research for the Open University, Higham Hall Educational Trust, Newcastle University and the Ring Net Heritage Trust. Our House History Packs cover a range of research options from a basic house chronology to a detailed house history with resident profiles included. Full pack details are available HERE

Discovering Heritage House History logo
Posted on Leave a comment

The House Historian

House Histories Front door the house historian

The job of the house historian is to research the history of houses. In most cases, the property would be someone’s home. House historians can research the history of any house or building. Learning about the people who lived in your home or worked in your building can be an intriguing pastime. Each property is attractive to us as house historians, ranging from a regular semi-detached house to a terrace or grand villa. Renovated buildings like churches and hotels often have a well-documented history, but the house historian can often add to the story by conducting deeper research.

Researching house histories has become a popular hobby. We have written case studies on some of our projects which will give you an idea of how we approach our fact-finding missions. Here we share some more information about available resources.

House History Resource Services

There is a comprehensive scope of free services available to you if you would like to conduct house history research. Services offered in local archives and libraries are often free. Some services provided by specialist websites may charge.

If your house is listed, check the National Heritage List for England. This site has details of every listed building. The list is a good to help with a date of construction and also with any distinguishable features about your property.

You will need to get an estimation of the age of your property. Various resources can help you with this.

Archives and Maps

1st edition OS map portion used to research house hoistories

Simply looking at your property may provide clues, note the design and building materials used. Members of your local community might have information that could help. Reading up on your local history may add a valuable insight. The Northumberland Archives search rooms are an excellent place to visit to view copies of old Ordnance Survey maps. There are different editions of O S maps also available online at National Library of Scotland and

Do You Have The Deeds For Your House?

If the deeds to your house have survived, they will give you the most accurate historical information. You may have the deeds yourself, if not, it is worth approaching your solicitor, building society or bank. You may have an abstract of the title; this is a summary document that records the transactions on your property. If the deeds have not survived the abstract of title could give important clues to the history of your house.

Administrative Areas

Find out which administrative area your house is in. If you know the county, registration district and parish that your property is in this will help when you are looking through records.

To The Manor Born

If your house was part of a manor the Manorial Documents Register will give you information on which records survive. If your house records have survived this register can tell you where to access them.

House Residents and Lists

Searches of census returns between 1841 and 1911 will help establish who lived in your house. Commercial subscriptions are available at Ancestry and Find My Past. Your local records office or library will often provide access to these sites free of charge.

Row of directories used in house history research

Digital copies of the 1911 England and Wales Register are also available on these sites. This list is a useful tool for discovering who lived in specific properties.

Lists of voters are recorded in Electoral Registers. Registers for Newcastle are available online through Ancestry. Northumberland registers are accessible through Northumberland Archives.

House History Research

We would love to hear from you if you would like Discovering Heritage to help uncover the story of your house. Our researchers have a wealth of experience in this area. We have undertaken research for the Open University, Higham Hall Educational Trust, Newcastle University and the Ring Net Heritage Trust. Our House History Packs cover a range of research options from a basic house chronology to a detailed house history with resident profiles included.

Can’t Be Bothered?

Well if it all seems a step too far we have your back. You can hire us and we will do it for you! We have a whole range of archival products waiting for your arrival at The Little Histories Shop.

More on discovering the story of your house