Aerial view of Gosforth 1965
The following article appeared in the Newcastle Journal on Tuesday 16 December 1969. It was headed, Your Town – Gosforth, and written by Heather Smith. We have transcribed it here to make it easier to read and given it the heading Look At Gosforth. We found it amusing and would love to hear your comments.
Look At Gosforth 1969
Gosforth is one of those very desirable places. Or so Gosforth residents say and the rest of us believe. How much more desirable to have your headed notepaper end in Gosforth, than, say, Byker. In the very name of Gosforth there is a hint of delicacy and refinement that more earthy names like Jarrow and Wallsend lack.
Gosforth The Village
A fine mystique still clings to the select area that looks for all the world like a dormitory suburb, but which is still fondly referred to as The Village.The aura is of power (the power of the pen and the pound, that is) and wealth (nothing ostentatious just quietly loaded). And this rather insubstantial image, embroidered by envious Jesmond dwellers, is perpetuated by the people of Gosforth. They keep themselves to themselves.
United and Outraged
Walking through the streets, the houses present a secretive interior, protecting and isolating the inhabitants from casual passers-by. At the same time after months or even years of silence, Gosforth residents will suddenly burst forth united and outraged at a new planned road scheme. Any innovation that might narrow a tree lined road or encroach upon a terraced garden, welds these detached family units into a single minded army. Their rage at any threat to the elegant status quo is implacable.
Here if anywhere in a region that rarely bridges the gap between miner and Duke is the middle class and upper-middle class – the conservative stockbroker belt that thickly populates Surrey.
Gosforth Is The Place They Would Love To Be
For all up and coming people who have not been claimed by Ponteland or Hamsterly Mill, Gosforth is the place they would love to be at. An address there ensures the owner of a certain standing in the eyes of those who have not made it. Or so they say. But I may be the victim of a myth which, like the generalisation All Americans Are Brash, is part of a common philosophy but it is patently untrue.
Taking a long, cool look, the sort that journalists like to specialise in, I found the odd section of Gosforth that was far removed from this wealthy image. What is a prefab estate doing on the road to Gosforth’s industrial estate? What about the old colliery cottages that still survive, a standing memorial to the Coxlodge mining era? Or those vast council estates that are sometimes Gosforth sometimes Kenton and then turn out to be in Newcastle after all?
Nobody could pretend actually to like that messy stretch of the A1 which separates the High Street from Bruton Park estate. Or the sporadic development down in the dip of South Gosforth. But these are only exceptions after all, for the majority of Gosforth is firmly rooted in private (and expensive) dwellings. Quiet road after quiet road of big important looking houses that are universally well-kept with what must be annual coats of paint.
Working your way west of the A1, the development gts more and more pricey. The large terraced houses with their long front gardens give way to large detached houses built cheek by jowl as if every square inch of ground was at a premium. And then on to the sophisticated apex of Montague Avenue where palatial residences can afford to ignore anything less than a half acre. Even those modern towering office blocks that harbour big business concerns only add to the general atmosphere. One or two of them are shining examples of how to build on a large scale gracefully. There is no doubt about it: Gosforth has some very nice houses and a lot of them are the solid, settled pre war variety. Now Gosforth may not be the industrial centre of Newcastle and there maybe other more exclusive residential areas nearby, but it must qualify for the title of city playground.
Racing Rugby And Golf
What Do Women Do?
The sports enthusiasts, I refer to the rugger playing kind rather than the United supporters, have no less than three golf courses, two rugby clubs a race course and greyhound stadium. Admirable on-the-door-step male entertainment, though what the women of Gosforth do with their spare time is not clear.
Another good thing about Gosforth is that although it is a suburb (residents can point in vain to the rates that go to Northumberland County Council) there is as yet nothing inflated or exorbitant about it. Speaking as one who was only too glad to leave that estate agent’s paradise, Surrey, Gosforth is a cheap suburb as suburbs go.Costs may be rising but the totally unrealistic prices of Epsom, which pander to the demand for a house, rather than it’s worth, are a long way off. But unfortunately like all dormitory areas, Gosforth lacks that vitality and self sufficient spirit that makes any pit village a more exciting proposition.
What apart from a night out at the flicks do Gosforth people do when the urge to leave their colour television sets is upon them? Of course they go to Newcastle because it is near, convenient and has a flourishing nightlife. This is all very reasonable. But it does mean that the visitor’s first impression of Gosforth is of wealth sadly tempered by something rather dull. The dullness can be fairly blamed on the reluctant suburb’s proximity to Newcastle and perhaps Gosforth people know it. For they have always had a love-hate relationship going with the city.
Apoplexy In The Genteel Drawing Room!
Life and Vitality
While the men work in Newcastle during the day and the couples live it up there through the night Gosforth has always laid great claims to being independent. Nothing would induce it to leave Northumberland and help lower Newcastle rates. As I said before many of its inhabitants still think of it as a village. The very word suburb is enough to cause apoplexy in many a genteel drawing room. But get a bit more of that independent spirit directed at giving Gosforth a life and vitality of its own, and I would not mind sleeping there myself. Article by Heather Smith Newcastle Journal Tuesday December 16 1969.
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