Dr. Gibb of Sandyford Park is immortalised in lines of the famous Geordie song ‘Blaydon Races’:
Some went to the dispensary
And some to Doctor Gibbses
And some to the infirmary
To mend their broken ribses
Dr Charles John Gibb was born in Newcastle in 1824, son of Joseph Gibb, a surgeon, who practised in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle for about forty years. After completing his school education Charles Gibb was apprenticed to Mr. Common, resident surgeon at Gateshead Dispensary. He completed his apprenticeship at Newcastle Infirmary. Dr. Gibb then furthered his studies at medical schools in Edinburgh, London, Vienna and Paris. He then returned to Newcastle to take up the post of house surgeon at Newcastle Infirmary, then at Forth Banks. He then went into private practice as well as lecturing at Newcastle School of Medicine and Surgery, then part of Durham University.
Dr. Gibb lived at 52-54 Westgate Road, Newcastle, from about 1861. The property now known as Gibb Chambers is marked by a black plaque. By 1891 Dr. Gibb and his family had moved to Sandyford Park, Jesmond. The property originally known as Villa Real was designed by architect John Dobson. It was re-named Sandyford Hall, later Park, by Dr. Gibb. The house today forms part of the buildings used by Newcastle School For Girls.
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We have come across an interesting entry in local records which attends to the moral character of Charles Gibb. On November 16th 1871 the Directors of the North Eastern Railway compensated Dr Gibb 100 guineas. Dr Gibb had sustained an injury in a railway collision at Brockley Whins. Charles Gibb donated the money equally between 10 local institutions including Deaf and Dumb, Industrious Blind, Idiots and Imebeciles and the National Lifeboat Institution.
In our possession we have a number of photographs relating to the Gibb family and Sandyford Park. The first is a photograph of Frances, wife of Dr. Gibb. Charles Gibb married Frances Elizabeth Gilbert Galaher in 1866. The couple went on to have four children. This image thought to have been taken in the 1890s shows Mrs. Gibb in formal dress. Her dress, fan and jewellery all reflect the status of the family.
The status of the family was also reflected in the size of their household. This photograph, again believed to have been taken in the 1890s, shows the household staff. The 1891 census records a lady’s companion, a nurse, a cook, two housemaids and a page living with the family. Living in adjacent properties were three gardening staff and a coachman.
The third of the photographs is an internal view of the Sandyford Park property. The room is decorated in high Victorian style as befitted a family of means and status.
This is a real treasure of a post. Photographs that have survived from the 1800s are few and far between. The Gibb photographs give us a tantalising glimpse into the life of this well respected and eminent physician.
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