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Punshon Newsagent

Old photo of Gosforth High Street showing T punshon Newsagent

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

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

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

T Punshon Newsagent advert
T Punshon advert Chronicle November 1969

T Punshon

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

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

Thomas Punshon

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

Thomas Punshon 1911 census
Thomas Punshon entry 1911 census

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

Gosforth High Street In 1922

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

Thomas Punshon Later Years

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

T Punshon England and Wales Register
9 Rothwell Road

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

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

Mr Victor Harland

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

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


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

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

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John Mood Stationer and Conscientious Objector

Advert for Jogn Mood Sationer in Gosforth

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

John Mood

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

Newspaper article recording death of John Mood

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

Early Life

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

Conscientious Objector?

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

Gosforth Stationer

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

Extract from 1939 registar

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

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


Newspaper article John Mood failing to observe blackout WW2

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

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

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A Real Diamond Geezer

Discovering Heritage Joe Fisher header image and quote

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph Charles Fisher

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

Joseph Fisher at Royal Grammar School (1930 -36)

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

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

World War II

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

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

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

The British Polio Fellowship

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

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


Woodlands Mews Jesmond
Photograph c Joe Fisher Woodlands Mews Jesmond

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

Article regarding the opening c Joe Fisher

Joe has said –

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

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

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


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



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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Joe marries Christine V Swinhoe

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

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

2015  Joe Fisher was awarded an MBE

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

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

New Year Honours 2015


Member (MBE)

Photos by kind permission of Joseph C Fisher

Joseph Charles Fisher.

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

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

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

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

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The Laidlaw Family of Brush Makers

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

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

The Laidlaw Family

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

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

Children of Rev. Adam Laidlaw & Mary Laidler 

William Laidlaw                     b. 11th Feb   1787

Adam Laidlaw                        b.   5th May 1788

Thomas Laidlaw                     b. 12th Nov  1789

John Whitfield Laidlaw          b. 16th Jul    1791

Robert Laidlaw                     b. 22nd Jun  1793

David Laidlaw                        b.   6th Jul    1798

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

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

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

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

Adam & Robert Laidlaw 2nd Generation Brush Makers

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

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

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

Robert Babington Laidlaw 3rd Generation Brush Makers

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

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

Roland & Robert Anthony Laidlaw  4th Generation Brush Makers

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

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

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

Quote about Tony Laidlaw from a friend

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

Photo credit James P Deans

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

Robert Laidlaw & Son – Brush and Mop Manufacturer and Dealer

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

Laidlaw’s Shop on Gosforth High Street

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

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

Deaths & Probate for Anthony & Roland Laidlaw

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

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

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

Tel. Directory 1977 

Last directory entry showing  Gosforth High Street Shop

Read The Full Account of David’s Research

Four Full Generations Of The Laidlaw Family

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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

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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. 

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Jan Forster Estates Gosforth High Street. Discovering Heritage research photo

201 High Street Gosforth today.

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The Changing Face of Gosforth

Sign for Gosforth Traders

It is the natural characteristic of the High Street shops that they come and go. Communities grow and develop and demand different things. The trick is in getting the balance right between old and the new — also, the variety of business types. Situations change, and during times of change, we can sometimes find clues to our High Street heritage.

Penny Plain Gosforth High Street
Penny Plain

We recently took this photograph of the uncovered signage on what used to be Bowens Lighting shop on Gosforth High Street. The refurbishment of the shop front which allowed the old signage for Penny Plain to be seen for a short while prompted lots of fond memories. Many of us remember shopping in the popular women’s clothing store before it closed.

It is the characteristic also of the corner shop to come and go as businesses respond to the market demand of local customers. We have previously mentioned the history of Gosforth’s Kelly’s Corner. We took this photograph during the redevelopment of 151 Salters Road. The premises known as Gosforth Traders have a new vocation. Property works uncovered the signage for Hillary’s Bakers and Confectioners.

151 Salters Road Greggs of Gosforth traded from this address Kelly's corner
Old shop signage Hillary's Cinfectioners 151 Salters Road. Kelly's Corner

Although we all know this site as being, (for many years), one shop, Gosforth Traders, started life as two separate shops. The first businesses to trade from these premises in 1905/6 were T W Little Grocers and F Hannah Remnant Dealer at 151 and 153 respectively. By 1906 F Hannah (at 153) had moved on, and Mrs A Moore Confectioner had moved in. The Grocer (at 151) changed hands around 1910 to Clayton and Co.

153 Salters Road

At this point, the status quo remained until the middle of the war years. In 1916 Mrs Moore’s Confectionery left, and J O’Dowd Confectioner moved in at 153 Salters Road. O’Dowd confectioners appear to have come from Simonside View. They stayed until 1924/5 when another business from Simonside View moved in, namely, T S Dewell keeping the same trade in confectionery.

Greggs of Gosforth

Greggs of Gosforth and Kelly's Corner

After a very respectable 25 years trading, Dewell confectioners moved out, and Hillary’s Bakers and Confectioners moved in. By this time it was 1950, and some of us may remember the shop? Hillary’s must have ceased trading from these premises around 1968 because directories record that the well known Newcastle favourite bakers, Greggs traded at 153 Salters Road during this year. However the next year 1969 Greggs are registered as trading from 69 Gosforth High Street.

151 Salters Road

During the years between 1910 and 1975, 151 Salters Road saw three more changes in traders, each keeping a similar line. 1922 – 1934, J C Reah Grocery, 1934 -1939, W Bohill Fruitier, and 1939 – 1975, A B Round Frutiers. (Our research stopped at 1975 A B Round may have been there for longer).

Milburn’s Leaflet

Old leaflet found in an adjoining wall at Canny Crafty Gosofrth

When Canny Crafty made alterations to their premises at 147 and 149 Salters road in 2019 they found an old advertising leaflet in the wall partition. The leaflet had presumably been there since the property was built around 1904. The leaflet provides another tantalising glimpse into the past. Milburn’s Chemist was situated in Northumberland street in the early 1900s and held a host of mind-boggling stock!

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History of a Corner Shop

Where Was Kelly’s Corner?

History of a corner shop looks at the corner of Linden Road and Salters Road in Gosforth which became known locally as Kelly’s Corner. In 1922 A E Kelly began to trade as a tobacconist from the shop at 149, Salters Road. By 1925 Mr Kelly had moved next door to 147, Salters Road. Kelly’s newsagents went on to trade from this area for over 30 years. Gradually this area once known as the Shoulder of Mutton after the pub that used to stand on the site of  Dickinson Crescent gained a new identity, Kelly’s Corner.

The Shoulder of Mutton Inn

In the early 1800s, the Shoulder of Mutton beer shop was situated at the bottom of Salters Road near the Turnpike Gate. When Fawdon colliery opened – “Thomas Burdon built a larger “Shoulder of Mutton” higher up Salters Road.” (Richard Welford).  The name of the Inn – Shoulder of Mutton may have suggested that the original owner was also a butcher.

The demolition of the fag end” cottages that stood on the site of 145-149 Salters Road and the Shoulder of Mutton Inn opposite cleared the way for new development in this corner of Gosforth.

Ian Critchley Mayfield Road

In 1903 plans were submitted to GUDC for proposed residences on Linden Road. Proposals were for nine terraced houses on Linden Road, with two shops fronting onto Salters Road. The architects and surveyors were Ian Critchley of 16 Mayfield Road who drew up the plans for Messrs J & G Douglas. The first retailers from these new shops are recorded in the trade directories dated 1904  as H Moore dressmaker, T W Little grocer and W Guthrie confectioner. All three businesses are registered as trading from 147 Salters Road.

Plans for 2 lock up shops at 147 & 149 Salters Road.

Esther Paris Butcher

By 1906 W Smith butcher is recorded at 149 Salters Road.

W Smith butchers were followed by E G Finlay butchers in 1910, W Stewart butchers in 1911/12 and by E Paris butchers in 1914. Careful inspection of the name above the shop in our photograph will reveal the name of E Paris Butcher. The 1911 census records Charles Paris as a butcher living with his wife Esther Paris. The couple are 40 and 42 years old respectively at this time, and they are living in Hyde Terrace with their sister in law, Florence who is an assistant schoolmistress. Further research shows that the couple lived into their sixties and spent their later years in Hyde Terrace. There is no mention of the Paris couple at 149 Salters Road after 1916.

1911 census

Russell Draper and General Dealer

The photograph also shows M A Russell Draper and General Dealer next door at 147 Salters Road. The Russells followed J Sitch general dealers into 147 in 1912. They ran their business from these premises for ten years or more departing c1923 -25. General dealers in early 1900s sold a wide variety of goods, as you can see by looking closely at the shop window in the photograph. The window display shows a variety of corsets and other undergarments while advertising Lyons Tea and Fry’s Chocolate! The signage on the bottom bay window of the house and between the first-floor windows is tantalising, as we have not been able to decipher the wording.

M A Russell Draper and General Dealer. E Paris Butcher c1925

Kelly’s Corner

A E Kelly tobacconist followed Esther Paris into 149 Salters Road in 1922.  Later in 1925 when M A Russell moved out of no 147 Kelly’s tobacconist moved in. The 1939 England and Wales Register records A E Kelly living at 145 Salters Road (above the shop). Living with him are his wife Elizabeth Kelly,  carrying out unpaid domestic duties, Isabell Kelly also an unpaid domestic, John Kelly, who is at school, and Mary A Akrill a retired nurse.  The 1950 trade directory, records Albert Edward Kelly Newsagent trading form 147 Salters Road. At some point between 1953 and 1956, Mr Kelly retired, after over 30 years of trading at this address.

1939 England and Wales Register

The local name of Kelly’s corner lived on in the memories of the next generation but was eventually forgotten like the Shoulder of Mutton before it. Today new niche businesses are moving into this little corner of Gosforth, and the area continues to develop, following a tradition of small business trade that began in 1904.

Kelly's Corner today. Salters Road Gosforth July 2019. Showing Discovering Heritage offices, Canny Crafty, Connection Same Day Courier offices and Northumbrian Classic Ca Hire.
Today new niche businesses are moving into this corner of Gosforth

Gosforth readers may remember Thomas Potts Newsagent, who followed Arther Kelly into 145 and 147 Salters Road. Later T Punshon Newsagent, Harrisons Newsagent, Connection Courier and latterly Canny Crafty.

Next door at 149 the succession of butcher shops came to an end when R Hedley hairdresser moved in, during 1934, followed by I E Hanson Boot Repair. Hanson was the first of a succession of similar shops continuing through 1969 with G H Storey Shoe Repair.

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