Post updated Saturday February 4th 2023
We take great pleasure in publishing our guest posts and appreciate the care and time each person has taken to record their memories. Life On Leslie Crescent shares the memories of John Bynon, who recalls happy times spent on this street in Gosforth Newcastle.
Do you remember, like me, the wonderful childish sense of excitement when sneaking into the dark and dusty cupboard under the stairs? Your eyes would slowly adjust to the dark, and treasures and strange things would appear like magic. Childhood memories, history and culture come together at this Gosforth address as we observe an encounter with life behind the front door of 24 Leslie Crescent.
24 Leslie Crescent Gosforth
I can remember this from the beginning of my Grandparents moving to 24 Leslie Cresent.
It was just after the Second World War when my Grandfather, who was about 50 years of age, was demobbed. He was up at a bomber squadron at Louise-mouth at the end of the war. It might have been 1946 -47.
My Father was also in the RAF as a young man of about 24 years and was fresh out of flying school as a single-engine fighter pilot. Dad tells me that he went back to the old house after the war, where a neighbour informed him that his parents had moved to Leslie Crescent. I suppose communications were not what they are now.
My Father started working for my Grandfather at HS Bynon & Son picture restorers on Grainger Street. The business later moved to 46 The Cloth Market. Dad would tell me when they didn’t need the car; he would walk to work nearly every day, and my Grandfather would get the trolley bus.
There used to be a large elm outside the house, which was the home to many birds that would decorate my Grandfathers car.
Incidentally, my mother had a flat/rooms in part of next door in the early 60s at number 26 (the house on the end). That’s how mum and dad met.
My parents bought a house at 21 Woodlands, where my brother and I grew up a few years later. However, I would spend every weekend at my Grandparent’s house from the early 70s to the early 80s.
The house seemed vast to a 6-year-old boy. There were fantastic bannisters to slide down and bells in each room you could press, and the room name would swing inside the mahogany box on the wall in the breakfast room. This would be for the people who worked there in service in a time before my Grandparents lived there.
The house did not have central heating but was never cold.
My room was the small bedroom at the front of the house. I remember going next door into the master bedroom and looking out the large bay window. I could see all the way up and down the street from the Drive to Moor Crescent.
In the summer, I would go out into the small backyard and climb onto the asbestos roofed garage, and my Grandmother would throw up a large piece of old carpet to lie on. I used to clear the asbestos roof of any moss by scrapping with a stick. ( Unthinkable now). I’ve always liked the heat and would lie up there for hours with my Grandmother’s cat Sam.
I used to walk along the rounded coping stones, which used to be along the back wall and may still be there. My Grandmother would shout get down from there; you’ll set your neck. The garage doors were the original concertina timber folding green doors with lots of bolts to the floor and roof. What a carry-on!
The kitchen was called the scullery and was small with an enamel sink unit and those rubber extensions on the taps that you could point and squirt. The cat would only ever drink from the running tap.
Every window had white net curtains with large, heavy curtains on either side.
World War II Gas Mask
Below the stairs, there was a small cupboard that I used to hide in. In there, I found my Fathers gas mask from WW2 that he had thrown in the day he came home and had forgotten about. Grandmother would shout,” Get out of there; it’s filthy”.
My Grandfather’s flying goggles were stored in the built-in cupboard on the first-floor landing. I used to come down the stairs dressed in his flying gear from the First World War, the flying helmet over my eyes and goggles around my neck. Grandmother would go nuts… “You don’t know where it’s been; take it off.”
The house had all the original doors, but downstairs it had those 1940s glass misted panel doors to the front room, dining room and breakfast room. “Hideous glass panel doors”, my Grandmother would say….” too late to change them now”.
I remember my Grandfather giving me a new brass shiny key and trying it out in the heavy white front door. I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach the lock. The door opened into the inner porch, which had another original stained glass door. My favourite part of the outside was the external porch which is still there. I used to stand in there waiting for the rain to stop so I could play with my friends in the back alley of the Drive. My Grandmother would point at her watch, “Back at 6 for your bath !”
The bathroom had a huge enamel-coated bath with a large brass plunger which you would pull up with 2 hands to empty the water. I would always laugh at the noise the water would make.
The front garden had 2 rhododendron bushes in two corners. The flower beds had roses which I would spray with my Grandfather for greenfly on those hot summers in the 70s while the cat watched us through the leaded glass of the porch.
One thing I remember was very few cars on Leslie Crescent. One per house if that and no one parked outside your home, unlike the free for all nowadays.
A Family Life In Restoration
In September 2015 Sarah Nichol wrote an article for Chronicle Live entitled – How North East man Denis Bynon repaired some of the greatest art treasures. Denis joined his father in the picture restoring business in 1948 and restored a great number of notable paintings.
“His son Denis Bynon, FABPR, joined the firm two years later in 1948, also after leaving the RAF, and began a career that spanned more than 50 years which saw him working on many famous paintings that can still be found in nearly every notable castle and house in the North East, as well as further afield.” Sarah Nichol
Read the full article in the link below to find out which priceless painting Dennis Bynon helped to restore!
Architects Plan Reveals Hidden Treasure
Update from February 2023
Early in 2023 we had the pleasure of opening a further attachment from the author of this article John Bynon. Found in a roll of old brown paper was a 4ft long colour plan of Greys Monument dating from 1905. The architects plan penned by Herbert S Dotchin who worked from Percy Street in Newcastle Percy Street shows how Greys Monument could have looked dressed for the visit of Edward VII and his wife Alexandra in 1906. John kindly sent us an image of the article that consequently appeared in the Journal on Friday 25th November 2022. Reported by Tony Henderson
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