Monthly Archives: June 2013

Freedom of the Streets: the life and work of Jack Common

On Wednesday 23 October, Dr Keith Armstrong will give an account of the life and work of Jack Common, who was born at 44 Third Avenue. He will dwell on Common’s Heaton upbringing and how it influenced his life and writing. He will read extracts from Common’s autobiographical novels ‘Kiddar’s Luck’ and ‘The Ampersand’ and go on to discuss Jack’s unique friendship with George Orwell.

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Keith will also talk about his own Heaton background and will read his poetry inspired by his roots, including a new piece on Heaton, specially written for this talk. He will be joined by local folk group ‘Kiddar’s Luck’ with whom he has regularly appeared over the years, especially at events to celebrate Jack Common. The group’s extensive repertoire is largely based on traditional Tyneside songs, past and present.

This event will take place at Chillingham Road School as it forms part of the school’s 120th anniversary celebrations. Jack Common was a pupil at the school and 2013 is also the 110th anniversary of his birth.

Keith Armstrong

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he has worked as a community development worker, poet, librarian and publisher, Doctor Armstrong now lives in Whitley Bay. He has organised several community arts festivals in the region and many literary events. He is coordinator of the Northern Voices Community Projects creative writing and community publishing enterprise and was founder of Ostrich poetry magazine, Poetry North East, Tyneside Poets and the Strong Words and Durham Voices community publishing series.

He recently compiled and edited books on the Durham Miners’ Gala and on the former mining communities of County Durham, the market town of Hexham and the heritage of North Tyneside. He has been a self employed writer since 1986 and he was awarded a doctorate in 2007 for his work on Jack Common. His biography of Jack Common was published by the University of Sunderland Press in 2009.

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Common Words and the Wandering Star, Dr Armstrong’s book about Jack Common will be available at the talk.

Booking

Free to members. Non-members £2. Booking essential. Contact Maria Graham – maria@heatonhistorygroup.org
/ 0191 215 0821 / 07763 985656).

75 Years and Counting – Cloughs of Heaton Road

75 Years and Counting – Cloughs of Heaton Road is the 2nd edition of the book that was originally written to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Arthur and Edith Clough opening their famous sweet shop in 1934. It begins with a short history of Heaton and of the site on which the shop now stands. It is a nostalgia trip for all those have childhood memories of the wonderland of a sweetshop but especially for those who have climbed onto the iconic wooden chair to view the Kids’ Counter.

Famed for its bulging shelves, filled with a vast array of old favourites, the shop has featured on numerous television and radio programmes and in newspaper and magazine articles. Many will have fond memories of the matriarch, Mrs Clough, who was featured in The Chronicle posing on the top of a stepladder with a jar of Lemon Bonbons at the age of 90.

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The book can be borrowed at Newcastle Libraries or purchased at the shop on 88 Heaton Road; A4 size £3 and A5 size £2

Colin Veitch: Edwardian superman

This talk by Chris Goulding, which will take place at The Corner House on Wednesday 25 September 2013 at 7.00pm, will look at the remarkable life of the Toon’s own Renaissance man, Colin Veitch. Probably the greatest player ever to take the field for Newcastle United, Veitch was a versatile and charismatic captain as well as an innovative tactician and an early campaigner for the professionalisation of the game. His life off the pitch was every bit as multi-faceted, with Veitch involving himself in politics, trade unionism, theatre, journalism and serving his country during the First World War. Veitch’s extraordinary story sheds fascinating sidelight on life, sport and culture on Tyneside during the first half of the Twentieth century.

Colin Veitch

Colin Veitch

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Dr Christopher Goulding teaches English at the Royal Grammar School. A former professional actor and published author, he has been a member of the People’s Theatre for over 30 years. He has carried out extensive research into the life and career of Colin Veitch and maintains the Colin Vetch website.

Heaton History Group and Chris Goulding have campaigned for a commemorative plaque to be displayed on Colin Veitch’s former home in Heaton. We are delighted to be able to announce that this has now been approved. Details of the site, generous supporters and the timetable for the unveiling will be announced soon. STOP PRESS 25 September, to coincide with our talk, has now been pencilled in and the Lord Mayor has it in her diary. Perfect! Confirmation and more details soon.

Booking for the talk is open. Entry is free for members. The non-members’ price is £2. Contact Maria Graham (0191 215 0821 / 07763 985656).

Find out about Membership.

An introduction to Local and Family History Resources in Newcastle City Library

The session will include an introduction to both hard copy resources, such as trade directories and electoral registers, and online resources, like Ancestry UK (searchable census and other family history records) and the British Newspaper Archive (searchable local and national newspapers).  It is aimed at anyone who would like to help Heaton History Group with its research or look up information of personal interest, but who is not quite sure how to get started. It’ll be very informal and a great opportunity to get to know some members of the group a little better, so should be a really enjoyable afternoon.

Thursday 4 July 2.00pm – 4.00pm Local Studies, Newcastle City Library

The session is free but it’s essential to book ahead as there are only a few places left. Please contact Caroline – carolinestringer5@blueyonder.co.uk

When the Hoppings came to the Ouseburn

It’s  June. What are we going to talk about with no Town Moor Hoppings in Race Week? As now, this was the issue facing the city 99 years ago when, following a series of disputes between the Freemen, the showmen and the council concerning, among other things, ‘damage to the pasturage’ (Sound familiar?),  the fair left the Town Moor. This year, alternative events ‘with broader appeal’ are planned.  In 1914, the solution was for the Hoppings to relocate to Jesmond Vale and the Ouseburn. As you can imagine, plans to hold it on land known as ‘Green Water Pool’ or ‘The Greenies’, roughly where the Ouseburn Road allotments are now, set off a series of public protests, high court injunctions, rows and letters to the paper.

Some people were pleased to see it leave the Moor. ‘West Jesmond’ wrote: ‘It will be a great satisfaction to most people of our city to know that the Freemen have… put an end once and for all to  the abuse of the Town Moor during Race Week by the show people and their machinery’.

Billy Purvis agreed that  ‘Surely it is possible to hold this show without enormous traction engines. I am old enough to remember fairs and hoppings for many years back when such things were not dreamt of. The people enjoyed it just as much as now’

But moving it to Jesmond Vale was far from universally popular. George Lamb of Salisbury Gardens objected to ‘ the Festival with all its attendant noises and ribaldry’. He convened a public meeting, attended by ‘upwards of seven hundred’  and said ‘ no pains will be spared to prevent this projected disturbance of a peaceful community’. The protesters said they didn’t object to the Hoppings at such but believed it should be held in a proper place –  and that proper place was the Town Moor’. The protesters also voiced concerns that attempts might be made to make the site a permanent showground, that people who could not afford to pay were being taken advantage of by a greedy, profit making company and ‘by the racket of those unearthly 50 horse power organs and other instruments of torture’. The resolution to oppose the fair was carried, with those voting against claimed to consist ‘largely of youths, who were obviously not residents of the locality’.

Another correspondent, ‘Verax’ of Lansdowne Gardens, warned that  ‘houses will become vacant’ and ‘the estate will attract a different class of tenant’ not to mention that ‘even if there is a substantial latrine sytem, it cannot entirely be erected without coming into the outlook from some of the bedroom windows’.

However John Angus of Jesmond Vale House, on behalf of the trustees of the estate, accused the protesters of nimbyism: ‘You can hold the festival anywhere but not in my neighbourhood’ and pointed out that the field was some 100 yards away from the nearest house and had been used as a ‘free playground for football, golf etc’ by those very ‘inhabitants of the estate’ who were now protesting.  He hoped the weather would be favourable for ‘what is really the summer holidays of thousands of poor children whose parents cannot afford to take them further afield’.

Mr Lamb replied with new concerns about health and safety: ‘It is damp, the approaches are steep and unsafe, and the stream at the foot is unfenced’. He urged parents to inspect it for themselves before allowing their children to enter such a dangerous place’.

However, despite ongoing expressions of doubt as to the suitability of the site, the Town Moor and Parks Committee of Newcastle Corporation decided not to interfere and the Journal commented on ‘the beauty of the scene in its green valley surrounded by wooded banks’ and ‘the green glories of the trees and shrubs’ of Heaton and Armstrong Parks’ which looked down’ on it.

The fair opened on Saturday 20 June. The weather ‘held fine until late afternoon’ ( You know what’s coming next), when there was ‘ a violent thunderstorm, accompanied by a heavy shower of rain. For the best part of an hour it continued, the lightning flashing vividly… Such was the downour of rain that pools were quickly created on this low-lying ground and mud was everywhere when people began to assemble, after the storm was over…  Patrons were just beginning to crowd the scene when the sky became black again, and there was another fall of rain which drove them off the scene.’

Later in the week though when the ‘recent excessive humidity of the atmosphere’ had passed, the newspaper reports emphasised the fun of the fair and by the Thursday, the Westgate Road Picture House  was inviting the fair goers to ‘come and see yourself on the pictures ‘ along with Viennese Orchestra, dainty teas and the main show ‘The Sacrifice of Kathleen’ (a fine drama of great heart interest’). Wouldn’t it be great if the reels could be found?

Despite the arguments and the weather, the festival remained at Jesmond Vale. It couldn’t return to the Town Moor  during World War 1, as troops were trained there and parts of it were used as an airstrip.  It returned to the Moor in 1919 but again between 1920 and 1923, smaller Hoppings took place at Jesmond Vale. (Source www.newcastle-hoppings.co.uk).

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The photographs above were taken sometime around 1920  by Edgar Couzens, a local butcher, who had shops in Heaton Road, Chillingham Road and at 185 Shields Road and who lived at various Heaton addresses including Sefton Avenue and Charminster Gardens. The photos were kindly digitised and passed to us by his grandson Mike Couzens.

If you have pictures or any further information about the Hoppings during their time by the Ouseburn, we’d love to hear from you.