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Bowlers in bowlers?

This fantastic photograph, showing a group of men in front of the pavilion in Heaton Park, was taken by Edward G Brewis or at least his firm.

Edward lived from about 1895 to 1900 in ‘the photographer’s house’, the double-fronted house just a few doors up from the park, 190 Heaton Park Road. He ran his own photography studio in New Bridge Street, as well as from his Heaton home and he took the last ever photograph of Heaton Park Road champion cyclist, George W Waller.

By 1900, Edward Brewis had moved to Broomley near Bywell but he later returned to Jesmond Park East, High Heaton for a while. He died aged only 44 in 1908. (You can read more about him and the house by clicking on the link in the first line of this paragraph.)

Early 20th Century Heaton Park bowlers?


We are hoping that someone will be able to tell us more about the photograph. Who were the men? They are posing with bowls on the bowling green so that could be a clue? Is the man standing at the back and the one sitting on the grass to the left of the bowls a park keeper? They both have badges on their distinctive caps and one has what might be a money bag over his shoulder.

When might it have been taken? Do the array of bowlers, boaters, flat caps, even a top hat (held by the bare-headed man second from the right in the second row from the back) and what looks like a tam o’shanter (three to the left of the man with the top hat) enable anyone to date it with a degree of confidence? Perhaps the collars and neck ties can help us pin it down.

Or does the pavilion itself hold the answer? How long was the large fountain in place? And does the photo pre-date a later clock? When was this part of the park a bowling green? We know it was a croquet lawn at one point. We are sure that readers of this article will have at least some of the answers.

John Whyte

Ian Sanderson recently wrote from Sussex, telling us that he believes the man in the boater on the left of the above photograph to be his grandfather, John Arthur Whyte.

John, born in 1885, lived in Byker and Heaton all his life and in 1911 was presented with two medals by his bowling club, Heaton Victoria. John spent a long career with Newcastle Corporation, rising to the position of town clerk. He continued to bowl in Heaton Park and for the Portland Club into the 1950s. He also represented Northumberland.

Below is a detail from the above photograph and also photos, supplied by Ian, which show his grandfather in 1916 and the medals he won. Ian believes that the above photograph may show members of the Heaton Victoria Club in around 1911.


Detail of photograph of bowlers in Heaton Park



John Arthur Whyte, 1916




Heaton Victoria Bowling Club medal



Heaton Victoria Bowling Club medal



Heaton Victoria Bowling Club medal



Heaton Victoria Bowling Club medal


Thank you

Thank you very much to Ian and to Gary Walsh of Whickham, who kindly sent us a copy of the photograph.

Can you help?

If you can give us any leads or have any other information or photos of bowling in Heaton that you’re happy to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please either leave a message on this website by clicking on the link immediately below the article title or email We’d love to hear from you!



  1. Perhaps one of the bowling clubs who used the Heaton Park greens is what is shown? The men with bags perhaps are attendants who would charge casual bowlers for ad hoc use of the green. There was a bowling hut to the left of the shot where kit was stored and the bowlers used to made tea, smoke, chat etc. The fountain I think came from the Grainger Market Clayton St. end. Live ducks etc. were put in it prior to their sale. That end of the market was badly damaged by fire and replaced by the present iron and glass construction and the fountain moved to the park. I don’t know when it was removed. As a child of the 50s/60s I remember all 3 greens were intensively used mainly by retired men. The green at Heaton Park View was the first to go and around 1988 I remember the cute wooden hut/shelter was smashed to bits in 30 mins. by a JCB; 100 year old seasoned pine and some hardwood taken to landfill; an outrage!

  2. To be honest, I don’t know why it doesn’t enlarge: they usually do.Very annoying! I’ll look into it but in the meantime, email you a copy. It’s a photo of the original taken with a mobile phone but we’ve been promised the original at some point. It’s quite good though. You should be able to zoom in.

  3. We have received an email from Ian Sanderson, who lives in Sussex:

    ‘I’ve recently discovered your website and find it of great interest having lived in High Heaton from 1947 to 1970 and attended Cragside and Heaton Grammar schools.

    One particular picture caught my eye – that of the bowlers in Heaton Park.

    The photo on the website is not very clear but I think the person 2nd from the left at the back with a boater may be my grandfather John Whyte. As well as the face, the way he is standing reminds me of the way my grandfather used to stand.

    John was born in 1885 and lived all his life in Heaton. He was a keen bowler from an early age and in 1911 he was presented with these two gold medals by the Heaton Victoria Bowling Club. One reads ”Presented by Lady Baxter Ellis July 27 1911”, the other “Two Bowls Championship won by Mr J. A. Whyte. Presented by Wm. Gillender Esq. 1911”. I think your photo was probably taken about this time and would be of this club.

    I have the attached photo of John taken in 1916 by which time he had obviously trimmed his moustache if he is the person in the bowling picture. If you have a higher resolution copy of the picture I would be grateful to receive it. John continued to play bowls in Heaton Park and at the Portland Club until the 1950’s including playing for Northumberland. Unfortunately I have not been able to find any records for these clubs or for the county so if any of your readers know of their whereabouts I would be interested to hear.

    John had a long career with the Newcastle Corporation in the old Town Hall where he became Chief Clerk in the Town Clerk’s office from 1934 to 1955. I can provide more details of his life if this would be of interest.’

    We have published a detail of the photo along with photos of John’s medals towards the bottom of the original article.

  4. Ian has sent more information about his grandfather, John Whyte:

    John Whyte was born in 1885 at 28 South View to parents who were strong Congregationalists. The family moved shortly afterwards to 73 Grafton Street. John initially went to school in Rochester Street, Gateshead one of several outlying schools opened by the Congregationalist Dr. Rutherford. He moved to Heaton Park Road School in 1893 and was there for 4½ years leaving in 1899. By this time the family had moved to Tynemouth Road where John lived until his marriage in 1911. He married at Heaton Congregational Church and started married life at 84 Tosson Terrace where his two girls were born. The family moved to 15 Sackville Road sometime in the 1920’s and finally to 31 Beatrice Road in 1938.
    He started working for Newcastle Corporation soon after leaving school and continued there until he retired in 1955 after 47 years of service. The Newcastle Journal recorded his retirement:
    “He writes to please”
    A man who is an expert in a dying art retires from the service of Newcastle Corporation at the end of the month.
    Mr. John A. Whyte of Beatrice Road, Heaton has been with the corporation for 47 years, the last 21 years as chief clerk in the Town Clerk’s department.
    He is therefore an expert on a number of things, but it is the excellence of his copper-plate writing which arouses the envy of his younger colleagues. This he learned in the old school, in the days when he was a law writer and when documents had to be copied with real distinction.
    Mr. Whyte, church worker, bowler, and – in his earlier days – football player and administrator will spend his leisure reading all the books which, until now, he has never had time to read. A change indeed from his duty reading all these years – Acts of Parliament, Government circulars, legal decisions and the like.
    He was heavily involved in the life of Heaton Congregational Church. He was elected a deacon in 1935 and the church treasurer in 1938, a role he continued in until 1951.


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