Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pretswell's signage being uncovered in 2013.

194 Heaton Road

In October 2013, builders renovating premises at 194 Heaton Road uncovered this old sign.

Pretswell's signage being uncovered in 2013.

Pretswell’s signage being uncovered in 2013.

The ‘ghost sign’ prompted us to try to find out who the father and son were, what their shop sold and when they were in business. The story went back even further than we thought, 160 years.

Edmund Forbes Pretswell was born near Edinburgh in 1853, the son of a shepherd. In 1861, he was aged 8 and living with his parents, two older brothers and sister at Broomhill Farm, Liberton in Midlothian. Unfortunately, we don’t currently have much information about Edmund’s early years but we do know that by 1876, at the age of 23, he had moved south and married a young woman from Chester-le-Street. Their first child, also named Edmund Forbes, was born in her home town a year later.

Growing prosperity

By 1881, Edmund senior and his new family had moved to Newcastle, where the growing population meant excellent prospects for someone with enterprise. Edmund’s occupation is described in directories as ‘grocer and provisions merchant’. According to the census of that year, the family of the Scottish shepherd’s son were doing well enough to be occupying three properties in Byker (32 and 34 Byker Bank and 1 Quality Row) and employing a servant. One of the properties seems to have been Edmund’s first shop – possibly even the one pictured here, which was apparently just north of Leighton Street on the west side of Byker Bank. The photograph was given by Edmund senior’s grandson, Norman, to local historian, Mike Greatbatch, who has kindly shared it with us.

Edmund Forbes Pretswell senior's Byker Bank shop. possibly with Edmund hismself standing in the doorway.

Edmund Forbes Pretswell senior’s Byker Bank shop. possibly with Edmund hismself standing in the doorway.

Over the next 30 years, we can track Edmund’s growing family and expanding business. He had various shops in Byker Bank, added others in Shields Road (115 and 179) and Tynemouth Road. By 1891 Edmund and Jane, his wife, had 7 children and were living at 17 Heaton Road in a house quite recently demolished and replaced with a modern building housing a medical practice. The Pretswells soon moved to a brand new home on Wandsworth Road from where they continued to run the Tynemouth Road shop. But soon after the turn of the century, though still in business in Heaton, perhaps as a further sign of their growing prosperity, the family moved out of Newcastle, first to Cullercoats and then to Willington Quay. This photograph of their Willington Quay shop was sent to us by David Pretswell, the younger Edmund Pretswell’s great nephew.

The first  Edmund Forbes Pretswell with members of his family outside his Willington Quay shop

The first Edmund Forbes Pretswell with members of his family outside his Willington Quay shop

Home to Heaton

Meanwhile, Edmund junior was following in his father’s footsteps. The first records we’ve traced where he is listed as a grocer are shipping log books. In September 1905, aged 28, he set sale in steerage class from Southampton to Algoa Bay in South Africa. However he returned just two months later. He seems to have already been married by this time: maybe he’d gone to check out the possibility of taking his young family to make a new life there? But whatever the reason, he was soon back and by the following year, 1906, he had taken over the family shop on Tynemouth Road.

By 1911, he and his wife, Thomasina, had three children and were living in Wandsworth Road, just across the road from his parents’ former home. By the following year, his father, by this time approaching 60, seems to have retired while young Edmund was running shops in both Tynemouth Road and Chillingham Road (number 186). And by the outbreak of World War 1, Edmund Forbes Pretswell junior had opened a new shop at 194 Heaton Road under the name: EF Pretswell & Son. The shop was a fixture on Heaton Road for over 40 years – until about 1956. So the recently uncovered lettering is between 100 and 57 years old.

Local chain

In 1956, the Heaton Road shop was acquired by a growing local grocery chain called Hadrian Supply Company. By 1968, this company had 30 branches in Newcastle alone, including at 258/262 Chillingham Road, 176 Newton Road and 175/181 Shields Road. However, by 1973 only one shop remained on Stamfordham Road. It seems as though the business had been sold to a supermarket chain. We would like information about it and also the businesses which occupied the Heaton Road premises between then and the recent kitchen shops, Kitchens Plus and Wren’s – as well as what will come next!

Can you help?

Lots of people must remember shopping or even working at 194 Heaton Road. If you can supply any further information or photos or just have memories to share, please add your comments by clicking on ‘Leave a Reply’ at the top of this article or contact: chris.jackson@heatonhistorygroup.org

Hadrian’s Wall and its Landscape from Newcastle to Wallsend: discoveries since 2000

On Wednesday 22 January 2014, Paul Bidwell will talk about Hadrian’s Wall and its landscape from Newcastle to Wallsend, concentrating on discoveries since 2000.

Almost a fifth of Hadrian’s Wall runs through urban areas, where modern developments – ranging from digging trenches for gas and water pipes to new buildings – have led to important discoveries. Some of the most exciting finds of recent years have been in the easternmost four miles of the Wall between Newcastle and Wallsend, including around Shields Road. They have shed light on the history of the Wall, the reasons why it was built, and the landscape it cut through.

Reconstructed section of Hadrian's Wall, Wallsend

Reconstructed section of Hadrian’s Wall, Wallsend

Paul Bidwell was Head of Archaeology for Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums until his retirement in 2013. He has excavated widely on Hadrian’s Wall and in South-West England and has published many books and articles. He was recently awarded an OBE for services to heritage.

The event will take place at the Corner House Hotel on Heaton Road. As usual, please book for the talk to ensure you’re not disappointed and be in your seat by 7.15 so that we can offer any unclaimed places to people on the waiting list or who come on spec. To book, contact Maria Graham: maria@heatonhistorygroup.org / 0191 2150821 / 07763 985656.

Beavans on site of High Main pub

Meet me on the corner

Not a detailed timeline but we couldn’t pass up the chance that the opening of the new pub on the corner of Heaton Park Road and Shields Road gives us to show pictures of the same building at different points in its history. Most people associate Beavan’s with the building on the opposite side of Heaton Park Road which still bears its name, but this lively street scene shows that it was previously on ‘High Main’ corner and seems to have extended down Heaton Park Road.

jBeavans  on site of High Main pub

Thank you to Beamish Museum for letting us use this photo. It’s interesting to see the now demolished shops and houses further down Heaton Park Road. And notice that some of the children have bare feet. But can you help us date the photograph? The fashions should give us a clue.

And what about this one, showing Woolworth’s occupying the site? Sometime in the 1960s? Who remembers shopping or working there? Did anyone own one of those sidecars?

Woolworths on Shields Road

And, for comparison, the new pub.

High Main Pub 2013

And in case you were wondering where the name came from:

Plaque outside the High Main pub

Thank you to Graham Soult for permission to use these two photographs.

There must be lots of people with information or memories of Woolie’s, Beavan’s (even if not in these premises!) or of other shops on Shields Road. We’d love you to post your comments here or email them to Chris Jackson.

Will Ye Buy Ma Fresh Fish?

On Wednesday 11 December, Hazel Graham and Hilary East will give a visual talk on the life of the Cullercoats fishwife with traditional live music, a demonstration of Northumberland and Durham clog dancing and a display of traditional costumes and creels. If you’re wondering whether this is relevant to Heaton, here’s an extract from Jack Common’s Kiddar’s Luck:

Though milk and bread were front door deliveries, greengrocery and fish and coal came to the back door. Sometimes for days on end, the children would spend all their time in the back lane, in and out of each other’s yards, sitting on the steps or swinging on the lamp posts. Down here came the Cullercoats fishwives crying ‘Caller Herrin’ in that season and otherwise ‘Fresh fish, hinny, straight from the sea’. They wore their traditional dress of dark blue which so well set off the biscuit tan of arm and face, the salt-white hair, and they were like caryatids walking under the great baskets they carried on the heads.

And this postcard was published by Alexander Denholm Brash, who between 1905 and 1910 kept a bookshop, stationer’s and circulating library at 92 Heaton Road. It was posted in October 1913. Jack Common was born in 1903 in nearby Third Avenue. Kiddar’s Luck covers the period from his birth until he left Chillingham Road School in 1917.

Postcard of Cullercoats fishergirls, published by Alexander Brash

The event will take place at the Corner House Hotel on Heaton Road. As usual, please book for the talk to ensure you’re not disappointed. We’ll restrict numbers so that we have room for tables to contribute to a social atmosphere – as befits the time of year! But as usual, please be in your seat by 7.15 so that we can offer any unclaimed places to anyone on the waiting list or who comes on spec. To book, contact Maria Graham: maria@heatonhistorygroup.org/ 0191 2150821 / 07763 985656

The original Heaton Station

Heaton Station: a whistle-stop tour

Heaton’s place in history is bound up with railways so we thought we’d chug along its stations’ timeline to see what we could find. The original Heaton Station was on the first railway to pass this way – the line from Newcastle to North Shields and later Tynemouth, which opened on 18 June 1839. The station was situated just to the North East of what later became called Heaton Road. The precise construction date is a little uncertain but there are press adverts which mention trains stopping at a station at ‘Heaton Hall Lane’ as early as 1841.

Mention of Heaton Hall Lane Station, May 1841

Advert in ‘Newcastle Journal’, dated 15 May 1841

The first mention we have so far found in news reports dates from 1844 when a passenger walking home from the station after dark fell from the bank by the lead factory into the Ouseburn. By the mid 1840s, there were already plans for a new line to Berwick, which meant that Heaton was destined to become an important junction. The stretch from Heaton to Berwick opened on 29 March 1847. This illustation dates from that time. Thank you to Alan Morgan in whose book ‘Heaton: from farms to foundries’ it appears.

Drawing of the original Heaton Station, 1847

Drawing of the original Heaton Station, 1847

Royal visit

Here is a selection of news stories featuring Heaton Station in its early years.

On Friday 28 September 1849,  Queen Victoria travelled down the new east coast line on her return from holiday in Balmoral. A public holiday was declared in Newcastle and although the weather was inclement,  the crowds were undeterred:

‘Heaton Station was the point at which her majesty entered the borough of Newcastle, and here was a profuse display of flags and ornamental devices in flowers and evergreens.’

‘Commencing at Heaton Station a long and dense crowd lined the railway to the Ouseburn Bridge and even the hills some distance from the line were covered with spectators.

While she was here, she opened the new High Level Bridge. This picture of the royal train that day is from the Illustrated London News.

Queen Victoria's train in Newcastle

In August the following year, there was another local public holiday when the queen and her family again passed through Heaton, this time after after stopping in Newcastle to open the new Central Station on their journey North.

New station

In 1861 advertisements inviting tenders to build a new station and station master’s house at Heaton appeared in the press. This would explain why the next photograph, dated 1886, looks quite different from the much earlier drawing.

Advert for tendeer for new station and station-master's house

Newcastle Journal, 6 May 1861

The original Heaton Station

Heaton Station, 1886

This photograph is published by kind permission of Beamish Museum and John Moreels of Photo Memories.

Then on 6 November 1886, when the track was also widened, The Newcastle Courant announced that work had begun on a completely new station which

‘is situated to the west of the present one. … bridge building will be necessary as the platform will be intersected by lines of rails. These works are giving work to a large number of men, and as a large amount of house-building is going on in the locality, that part of the town presents quite a brisk appearance.’

On 1 April 1887, the old station closed and on the same day the new one opened on on North View on the opposite side of Heaton Road. Again the photograph below is published with the permission of Beamish Museum and John Moreels of Photo Memories.

'New'Heaton Station

‘New’ Heaton Station

Notorious murder

Moving into the twentieth century, an incident took place which brought Heaton Station to the attention of the whole country. On 18 March 1910, John Innes Nisbet, a colliery employee who lived in Heaton, boarded the 10.27am train at Central Station to deliver wages to Widdrington Colliery. When the train arrived at Morpeth, Nisbet’s dead body was found. He had five bullet wounds to the head.

A key witness was Nisbet’s wife, who had gone to Heaton Station to talk to her husband while the train was stopped there. She claimed that she saw the man later identified as John Dickman, the alleged murdererer, sitting in the same carriage as her husband. Dickman, who had also previously lived in Heaton, was found guilty on what many people believed to be unsubstantiated circumstantial evidence. He was hanged but long afterwards the case was cited by opponents of the death penalty.

Suffragettes

On 17 October 1913, suffragettes were reported to have attempted to burn down Heaton Station. According to contemporary press coverage, one of the porters had smelled burning: he saw smoke coming from the direction of the ladies’ waiting room and upon investigation found a large cardboard box behind one of the lavatory doors. It contained open tins of oil, fire-lighters soaked in oil and a piece of candle. It had been positioned in such away that, once alight, it would ignite the contents of the box and then the door. Had it not been discovered, the station may well have been destroyed as it was constructed almost entirely of wood. A few weeks previously Kenton Station had been burned to the ground and earlier that year, a bowls pavilion in Heaton Park destroyed. All three incidents were thought to have been perpetrated by suffragettes, who at this time were accelerating their campaign for womens’ right to vote. 

More information about Heaton Station

That takes us to 100 years ago. Heaton Station finally closed on 11 August 1980 in preparation for the extension of the Metro system. The following photographs are reporduced by kind permission of Alan Young, railway photographer and author, who was brought up on Meldon Terrace. They date from 1972.

Heaton stationHeaton StationHeaton Station, 1972 <

Further information and more images can be found at the Disused Stations website.

Can you help?
If you have information, memories or photographs of Heaton Station or Heaton’s railways, please get in touch.