Gosforth Tramway Building

A look Back at Gosforth High Street

Taken outside the Gosforth Tramway building this photograph shows the G Sykes and Cook garage c1930s. The garage was one of a number of businesses that traded from the old tramway stables on Gosforth High Street.

The Tramway Service

The tramway service came after the Gosforth omnibus started by Mark Frater. In this post we look at this building between the years of 1884 to 1973. The tramway stables was one of the longest buildings on Gosforth High Street running from Ivy Road almost to Woodbine Road.

Gosforth Tramways

The Newcastle Upon Tyne Corporation Tramways opened 5th December 1878 at this time the trams were horse drawn. In 1885 the operator name changed to the Newcastle Tramway Company. This was a company formed by Daniel Busby and William Turton to run the tram services. By 1888 the company had changed its name again to become the Newcastle and Gosforth Tramway and Carriage Company, with William Turton listed as the director. (Note the names of Busby & Turton appear on the plans).

Plans for new tramway stables for Gosforth.

Plans were submitted to GUDC by Busby and Turton in 1884 for the building of new tramway stables in Gosforth. They included 3 rows of stalls enough room for 116 horses, between which ran the car shed. There were also two manure stores, a harness room, a sawdust room, a smithy, 2 loose boxes (one of which later became Barclays Bank) and a car pit. The last horse drawn tram service was on 13th April 1901.

Plans for Gosforth tramway stables showing Smithy, loose boxes, and car shed.
Proposed plan for Gosforth tramway stables.

Charles Merz of Gosforth

By 16th December 1901 the first electric tram service was underway, the route was 51.27 miles long. The Tyneside Tramways and Tramroads Company was chaired by John Theodore Merz who was also a director of the Swan Electric Light Company. As a point of further interest Charles Hesterman Merz was the eldest son of John Merz. Charles Merz lived in the house that today stands at no 54 Gosforth High Street and was originally shown on maps as Gosforth Villas. Charles Merz became well known for his involvement in the electrification of the railways in the early 1900s. In 1899 he set up a consultancy firm and from 1902 worked with William McLellan. The company became known as Merz and McLellan. The electric tram service ran for 49 years and closed on 4th March 1950.

Blue Disc commemorating Charles Merz and William McLellan
Commemorative blue plaque outside 54 Gosforth High Street.

Gee Sykes & Cook Ltd of Gosforth

The first reference we have come across to this premises being used as a garage in the trade directories is in 1925 when G Cook Motor Garage is listed as trading on Ivy Road. The fact that this is 25 years before the eventual closure of the Newcastle and Gosforth Tramways Co. suggests that parts of the building may have been rented out while the Gosforth trams were still in use.

Old Gosforth photograph of Gee Sykes & Cook ltd. Trading from the tramway stables building on Gosforth High Street.
Gee Sykes & Cook Ltd Gosforth High Street Photo credit Evelyn Stark

The photograph shows an image of Gee Sykes and Cook garage situated on the corner of Ivy Road and Gosforth High Street. Although the second line is illegible we can make out the wording Gee Sykes & Cook Ltd on the sign at the top of the building, followed by Gosforth then Automobile Engineers & Agents, Coach Painters, Open Always.

We have been able to date this photo to after 1937 by looking through the building plans register. After starting as F Gee, we see later plans presented in 1926, by Gee and Sykes Garage and then in 1937 plans were submitted by F Gee Sykes and Cook for alterations/extension to the office for Brandling Garage, Ivy Road. The table below records various planning alterations applied for between 1911 and 1954.

F GeeCoach Shed13/9/1911
F GeePetrol Station Back High Street8/7/1914
F GeeGarage Alterations7/1/1920
Gee & Sykes GarageUnderground petrol tank28/7/1926
Sykes & Cook2 garages inside old Tramway Shed3/7/1929
F Gee Sykes & CookBrandling Garage Ivy Road offices and ext to office1/9/1937
Gee & CookPetrol pump1953
Gosforth MotorsNew side entrance Ivy Road29/4/1954

The sign on the inside wall of the garage appears to be advertising garage services and is partly legible

Taxis [available}

For Private [Hire]

Repairs Complete[d] …

Agents for [priv]ate [hi]re

& Commercial [Vehicles]

The words Brandling Garage appear above a smaller sign for Tyre Services.

Next door the dark blinds are partially pulled down over the upper bay window and the words Barclays Bank Limited can just be made out on the lower window and outer signage.

Advert for Gee Sykes & Cook Garage taken from a Gosforth and Coxlodge trade directory.
Gee Sykes & Cooke advert in the Gosforth and Coxlodge trade directory

By 1954 the name of Gee Sykes & Cook Ltd disappears from the trade directories and the Gosforth Motor Company takes up residence on Ivy Road. We can follow this company at this address until 1973. A later listing records Gosforth Motor Company as car and caravette hire off Hawthorn Road.

What followed the Gosforth Motor Company? We think we can remember Liptons and Kwiksave. We would love to hear what you remember!

©Discovering Heritage

The words Newcastle -upon -Tyne can be seen around the top arched window.
Changes are underway once more. Junction of Ivy Road and Gosforth High Street May 2019
View of the Tramay building today on Gosforth High street

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10 thoughts on “Gosforth Tramway Building

  1. Maureen MCKINLAY says:

    Hi do you have any pictures of West gosforth station and the station house that was there? Also any of the coal merchants Blenkinsops buildings that took over the old station?

  2. Kathleen Stacey (GEE) says:

    I have been forwarded some interesting details about my Father’s business, in Gosforth, 1920’s t0 1954 Great picture of a Look Back at Gosforth High Street, but some of the writing is wrong! And dates and names later in posting!! The name should be GEE, Sykes and Cook You may ask “who am I”???
    My name is Kathleen GEE Stacey. I lived in Gosforth (born 1933) I now live in Monterey, California, and a long time US citizen
    But I am interested in my family history – for my family!
    Later a number of problems I know, I have a certificate showing that in 1927, WALTER GEE was a proprietor (not F Gee) . Plans in 1937 not F GEE, Sykes and Cook! And so on!!!!
    I appreciate work you have done, but, lets be accurate!
    I would love to have a reply

    1. Fiona Malkin says:

      Hello Kathleen, thank you for your comment. Our information comes from archival sources, namely the GUDC planning register and trade directories.

      It is possible that there are errors in these records but we can only go off what they say.

      We would be very interested in any further information you have that would add to our post.

      If you would like to write about your memories of Gosforth and your father’s business we would love to post it on our site. 😊

    2. Graham Tait says:

      My Nana used to live on Ivy Rd, I can remember that building being a furniture shop called House of Holland in the late 70s, early 80s.

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