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The photographer and his house



190 Heaton Park Road – or 94 as it was until renumbering in 1904 – was a one off. The three-storey double-fronted half-timbered facade still distinguishes it from neighbouring houses. And the balcony and iron railings, as shown in the photograph below, which dates from around 1910, would have left nobody in any doubt about the status of its owner. The photo is reproduced with permission of Newcastle City Library.

190 Heaton Park Road, c1910
190 Heaton Park Road, c1910

Built to order

However, it was the interior which made it unique. As you can see from these beautifully drawn plans, which can be viewed in Tyne and Wear Archives, it was designed for (or even by) Edward G Brewis and from the outset incorporated studios, a dark room and a print room among the usual living space. The exterior looks a little different from the photograph so either it was modified before being built or was altered later.

Plans for Brewis's house

Plans for Brewis's house

Edward George Brewis was born in Gateshead, the youngest child of a publican and his wife. Even at the age of 17, on the family’s 1881 census return, he was described as a ‘photographic artist’.

By 1890, by which time Edward was in his mid 20s, he was already running his own business at 10 New Bridge Street in Newcastle, premises which had previously belonged to the long-standing photography firm of Downey and Carver, the successor of the earlier partnership of W and D Downey. This was one of Newcastle’s oldest photography businesses (going back to the 1850s) so Brewis was continuing in a proud tradition. At this stage he was still living with his widowed mother.

But just five years later, Edward was the proud owner of one of Heaton’s grandest houses and operating his business from newly expanded premises at both 8 and 10 New Bridge Street, which he called ‘Victoria Art Studios’, and the new ‘Victoria House Studio’ in Heaton.


Brewis was primarily a portrait photographer although on his fantastic business cards reproduced below, he called himself variously a ‘photographic artist’ and ‘portrait painter’.


Brewis business card

He advertised that portraits could be enlarged to life size and painted in oil or water colour. Examples of his cabinet cards, which were so popular from the 1870s until well into the 20th century, can often be found on e-bay and in secondhand shops but the sitters are rarely identifiable. Check whether you have any Brewis portraits of family members in your attic – we’d love to see some.

The only Brewis photographs of which we currently know the identity of the sitter are two of Heaton’s world champion cyclist, George Waller, on which Brewis hastily applied for copyright in July 1900. They are, as a result, held by the National Archives. One is reproduced here.


The reasons for this and other links between Edward George Brewis and George William Waller will be explored in a future article. Both men left their mark on Heaton and its history.

Short life

Amazingly Edward Brewis lived in his fantastic custom-built house for less than 5 years. By 1900, he was married with a daughter and living in Broomley near Bywell in the Tyne Valley. The young family moved house often at this time – from Stocksfield to Jesmond and then in 1906 to a house called ‘The Nook’ on Jesmond Park East in High Heaton. Their address at the time of Edward’s untimely death, in May 1908 at the age of 44, was in Warkworth but his business still operated from New Bridge Street. His success at a relatively young age was shown by the sum of over £12,000 he left in his will.


The Edward Brewis photograph below of Eleanor Laverick nee Welford and was sent to us by her great granddaughter, Gillian Flatters.

Gillian told us that it was ‘lovingly watercoloured by my grandmother, Jessie Alexander Laverick. She did this to most of her back and white photos. Thanks to her other habit of keeping records, I can tell you the following about Eleanor:

Daughter of William Welford (Master Shoemaker) and Mary Ann Anderson, Eleanor was born at 5 Stepney Terrace, Newcastle on 05/01/1854. She married George Laverick in Aug 1877. At this time they lived in Ryton. Later moving to Ernest Street, Jarrow and Harvey Street, Hebburn. After Georges death in Nov 1902 she moved to Lyon Street, Hebburn Quay, where she kept a shop until she died there on 30 July 1930.

The only hint I have of a date for this picture is that as she appears to be pregnant in the photo it must have been taken after her marriage in 1877.’
EPSON scanner image
Eleanor  Laverick


Edward Fordy

Micky Fordy wrote to tell us that the above photograph is of his 2xgt Grandfather Edward Fordy b 1837 Beadnell: ‘He was baptised Edward Scott but his father did a runner before he was born so he was brought up by his mother Elizabeth and her parents. As they were Fordy he took this as his surname.  But from 1851 or earlier Elizabeth was living with William Brewis , b 1810 to parents John Brewis and Mary Willis. John and Mary had other children including John b 1811. I believe this to be the father of Edward G Brewis. As far as I know Elizabeth and William never married (her death was recorded as Elizabeth Brewis in 1866) but Edward Fordy and Edward Brewis would have been regarded as cousins.’

John Duffy snr color tint photo c.1895
John Duffy c1895

The above photograph was sent to us by Godfrey Duffy, who said that is a hand tinted colour photograph of his grandfather, John Duffy, taken in about 1895 at the Heaton Park Road studio.

Can you help?

Do you have any photographs of local people by Edward Brewis?  If you know something about the subject, we’d love to see them. Email

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  1. I lived opposite to this house in the 50s and 60s. It was in multiple occupation and I think still is. My Grandparents told me that at some time it had been the residence of the Icelandic Consul, (I don’t know if that’s true) and that had been sub let since 1945. I was in 200 in 1963-4 and it was certainly in need of some TLC then. It was dark, dank and rather smelly! To me it’s hard to imagine how different this corner of Heaton must have been 100+ years ago. Warwick Street finished at Newington Rd. so there was no direct route to the city centre and little or no traffic. Mrs. Baird who lived at 149 Heaton Park Road from about 1910 until her death in the 70s told me the place was “very quiet, very clean and very respectable with occasional horse and cart deliveries from Bainbridge’s and Fenwick’s plus local stores and butchers”. How different to today’s noisy, smelly traffic and scruffy ill cared for houses. Incidentally, the ornate gas light outside of 200 remained until electric street lights were installed and was used as a bus stop.

  2. I remember a ‘rag and bone’ man with a horse and cart operating out of that premises in the late ‘fifties, early ‘sixties; I recall the cart being kept in the yard but I don’t know about the horse – maybe he kept it in the house, that would explain the smell John.

    • I’d forgotten about the “Ragman”. Don’t think the horse was there, but not certain. That was a backlane I didn’t much frequent. The rooms on the 1st floor, at the front were rented by an aunt of mine. They were very spacious, but cold and the tenants upstairs were noisy. All in all, not a nice place then. Sad when you think how grand it must have been in the Edwardian era.

  3. A house with a colourful history especially if John’s grandparent were right about the Icelandic consul. Cyclist George Waller lived next door but he’ll be the subject of another article quite soon.

  4. I have a Brewis photo of one of my wife’s ancestors – we don’t know who, but it’s most likely a Hicks, who lived in Walker and Byker in the late 19th century. How can I send a copy to you for your archive?

  5. W.Laubach
    This is my interpretation of a faded stamp on the back of an old photo, so W. Laubach seems to be an older/another photographer using the premises.

  6. In Feb. 2016 I was shown a photograph of a relative while visiting Swaffham, Norfolk. It is of my great grandfather William Friedrichs (1860-1928) who was Superintendent of the old Post Office in Newcastle on St. Nicholas Street until 1905. I knew this photo from a poor quality copy but the one I saw was an original & printed on an Edward G. Brewis card. That led me to date it later than we thought because of the information I read about Brewis on line. Prior to this we thought it was of his father, who died age 45 in 1879, but that could not be the case based on Brewis’s life & business timeline. I have been researching my family ancestry in Northumberland & Durham since 2013. I live in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. I can forward the photograph if someone would like to see it. Thank you.

  7. Thank you, I enjoyed these photo’s and reading all about Heaton and it’s people.
    I remember the rag and bone man giving us balloons in the back lane of Rothbury Tce .
    Apparently my Grandfather told me when I was yoing that the area (a dug out concrete circle) down from the bowling greens/band stand (pizza place now) was a paddling pool and there was talk that they had a few animals in cages including a ‘bear’ would anyone know if there was any truth in this?

    Thank you Ella

    • Hello Ella, Glad you enjoy the site.

      Yes, the story about the bear appears to be true. There was a bear pit and we have contemporary records of it. Hard to imagine today! There was also a small menagerie, birds certainly, in what we now call the pavilion.
      Chris, Secretary, Heaton History Group

  8. Mick Fordy emailed to say:
    ‘I came across your website while looking for Edward G Brewis and thought that you might like these scans.* The sitter is my 2xgt Grandfather Edward Fordy b 1837 Beadnell. He was baptised Edward Scott but his father did a runner before he was born so he was brought up by his mother Elizabeth and her parents. As they were Fordy he took this as his surname. 
    However what might interest you is that from 1851 or earlier she was living with William Brewis b 1810 to parents John Brewis and Mary Willis. They had other children including John b 1811. I believe this to be the father of Edward G Brewis. As far as I know Elizabeth and William never married (her death was recorded as Elizabeth Brewis in 1866) but Edward Fordy and Edward Brewis would have been regarded as cousins.’ 


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