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Heaton Olivers

This photograph of Heaton’s North View School choir with their teacher, Miss Brown, taken outside Newcastle’s City Hall in 1948 was sent to us from Canada by Alan Oliver.


North View School Choir, 1948


The children had just won the title of Best Infant School Choir in Newcastle. Alan is the boy third in from the post in the middle, right hand side. He told us that his family’s connections with Newcastle and Heaton, in particular, go back much further and we wanted to know more:

Three Andrews

We have used census records and trade directories to trace the Oliver family back to 1841 when Alan’s great great grandfather, Andrew Oliver, was a coalminer in Ford. He lived in the North Northumberland village with his wife, Ann, and their 11 year old son, also called Andrew, and their daughter, Isabella.

By 1851 son, Andrew, now 21, had moved to the nearby village of Branxton, where he was apprenticed to a shoe maker, Thomas Pringle and  lodged, along with two other apprentices (the younger of them just 12 years old) at the home of Thomas, a widow, and his  24 year old daughter, Euphemia, along with a servant. Andrew soon fell in love with and married Euphemia.

By 1861 the couple, now living in the nearby village of Crookham, had two young children, William, aged two and one year old (you guessed), Andrew. They had a servant and a boarder, who was also a shoemaker.

By 1871 the family had moved to the nearby town of Wooler, where Andrew senior (or middle) was still a shoemaker and all the children went to school. They were still in Wooler in 1881, by which time the youngest Andrew was aged 21 and also working as a shoemaker. By now he had younger siblings, Isabella, Gilbert and Hannah.

However by 1891, the whole family, 60 year old Andrew senior, his wife, Euphemia, sons Andrew junior, now aged 30, and Gilbert, aged 23, with sisters Isabella and Hannah, had moved to 101 Tynemouth Road in Heaton. We don’t know why the family relocated but, if it was for financial reasons, it seems to have been a sound decision. Heaton was rapidly expanding and becoming more prosperous so there was a growing demand for footwear.

The younger Andrew and his wife, Jessie and their family continued to live on Tynemouth Road and run a shoemaker’s shop, first at number 101 and, by 1911, at number 91, now with three sons, Thomas, aged 13, Sidney, 9, and Harold, 6.


This Chillingham Road School class photograph shows Sidney, Alan’s father, aged about 7, so it must have been taken around 1908. Sidney is on the right hand end of the back row.We wonder whether anyone else had inherited a copy and could name anyone else in the class.


Chillingham Road School, c 1908


By 1930 the family shop was in his mother Jessie’s name but the long standing business on Tynemouth Road was soon run by Sidney and his wife and their son,  Alan, and his brother (yes, Andrew!) grew up above the shop. .

And this one shows a VE street party on Denmark Street in 1945.


Denmark Street, 1945


Alan’s brother, Andrew, is third boy from the left on the back row. We haven’t been able to find out exactly who Fearon and Hickford were and why they are named on the banner in the centre but Alan says that Mr Fearon is the man on the right holding a small child and he thinks that Mr Hickford is the man on the left, also holding a child. He remembers the Fearon family, with children John, Kenneth, Sandra and Dennis, living on Denmark Street. If you know more about the two men or recognise anyone else in the picture, please get in touch.

The family business eventually closed when Sidney retired. He eventually left Tynemouth Road for Killingworth in the mid 1970s when the street was demolished prior to redevelopment. He died on 10 September 1989, the day after his 88th birthday.  Three generations of Olivers had helped keep the people of Heaton shod for over 50 years.

Lord Mayor

But another Heaton Oliver made an important contribution to the life of the city. Gilbert, Alan’s great uncle, the brother of his father, Sidney’s father, you may remember, was a tailor when he moved to Heaton with his parents and siblings sometime before 1891, when he was 23 years old.

Gilbert went into partnership with a Thomas Walton in a business they operated from 1 Molyneux Street. Later he ran his own tailor’s shop at 39 Second Avenue, then 53 Balmoral Terrace and in Clayton Street in town.

By 1911, Gilbert had moved with his wife, Mary, and 15 year old son, Welsley Herbert, to 55 Cartington Terrace.


Cartington Terrace


We don’t yet know when Gilbert became interested in politics or was first elected to serve as a councillor but if you read through the list of Lord Mayors, displayed in the current (November 2016) Newcastle City Library exhibition, you’ll find the name Gilbert Oliver, holder of that ancient and prestigious office in 1937.

The photograph below was taken at Heaton Assembly Rooms in 1935 when Gilbert was Sheriff and Deputy Lord Mayor.


Deputy Mayor Gilbert Oliver of Heaton (second from the left)


Gilbert is second from the left. Also in the photograph are the Duke of Northumberland (extreme left), the Lord Mayor, Councillor Dalglish and the Duke of Kent. We haven’t identified the person on the extreme right.

Sadly Gilbert died of pneumonia in 1939 after being taken ill on a civic trip to York.

Canadian correspondents

Our correspondent Alan left Heaton and England in 1964. He joined the Norwegian merchant navy and in 1967 settled in Canada. His sons, Kevin and Ian, were born in Richmond, British Columbia. Kevin told us he has been to Heaton and Newcastle three times to visit family and see where his ancestors lived – and, of course, ‘to watch Newcastle United and Whitley Bay Warriors play’.


A big thanks to Alan for permission to publish his photographs and for adding a little more to our knowledge of Heaton’s history – and to Kevin for patiently acting as go-between!

Thank you too to Hilary Bray (nee Bates) who gave us permission to digitise and use the photograph of Cartington Terrace from her postcard collection.

Can you help?

If you know more about anyone or anything mentioned in this article or can identify anyone in the photographs, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us either through this website by clicking on the link immediately below the article title or by emailing




  1. Kevin Oliver has been in touch with some additional information about the North View School choir photo – and memories of Newcastle’s last FA Cup win:
    The back row right side of the post the first boy in is George Leighton and the 2nd boy in is Kenneth Fearon.
    The Front row in the same picture right hand side next to the teacher the girl is Sylvia Morris and boy beside her is Gordon Smith.
    My Dad remembers in 1955 when Newcastle won the cup a lady named Mrs Moody came into Sidney’s shop with a Newcastle cup medal. Her husband played for Newcastle in the 1930’s.
    My Father just wanted to thank you for all your hard work you do for the Heaton History Group.
    All the best Kevin.

  2. Fiona Bower wrote to us from Wimbledon.

    ‘I wondered if the gentleman on the far right of your photo of Gilbert Oliver might possibly be my grandfather, William Armstrong. I hope the photos I’ve attached send ok – my sister scanned them and I’m not sure if I’ve downloaded them correctly! They include pictures of their first house in Simonside Terrace.

    The sheet from the Identity card gives his address, 42 Teesdale Gardens. At the time he was Superintendent of Trams at Newcastle Corporation. Unfortunately we have very little other information because, our mother said, he ‘ran off’ (from his sick bed down here with her) and destroyed lots of papers, also leaving the house (presumably Teesdale Gardens) to his housekeeper.

    I’m trying to precis what little we know in case it’s irrelevant, but I certainly thought he bore a resemblance to the gentleman in your photo. Incidentally, our mother attended ‘Chilli Road school’ for a time………’

    Does this jog any memories?

  3. Re: Denmark Street 1945 picture.

    Mr Edward Hickford (on the left, with rosette) moved to Denmark Street in August 1939. Married Phyllis Veach in London (unfortunately lost a baby in November 1939, had a serious operation, worked as a cleaner in the unemployment office corner Heaton Road/Tynemouth Road).

    Mr Edward Hickford (Ted) was born in Wimberton. He met Phyllis while working at a hotel in Park Lanc. He was a senior porter, and Phyllis was No. 2 Chef. Ted was brought up in the Salvation Army.

    After moving to Denmark St. Ted was called up for war. I don’t know which regiment he was in but I know he was sent to Norway (where the Germans threw us out). He was shot in the lower abdomen just above his private parts, and he was invalided out of the army on a pension.

    In 1954, he secured a job as a security guard at the Elwick Gas Works and stayed until he retired. He used to walk back and forward to his work, brisk step.

    Ted died in 1964 of lung cancer. He was a heavy smoker and the coal gas at Elwick dd not help. Phyllis Hickford outlived him by fifteen years (though she was ten years older than him).

    My mother and father were always very close to Ted Hickford. As was I, even to this day, I miss him.

    William John Fearon, on the right, holding a little girl, was my father and we lived at 121 Denmark Street from 1939 to 1971, then moved to Blackfell Washington (Tyne and Wear).
    Known as John (Pop) and Ted were best friends. Pop worked in the shipyards as an insulating engineer (lagger) until 1959. He was then taken on as a postman in the ministry of pensions Longbenton.

    Mrs Elizabeth Fearon married 2nd January 1939 to William John Fearon. Children: John, Kenneth, Dennis and Sandra. (more information on the 1945 picture to follow soon).

    • Hello John. Many thanks for supplying all this background information about your father and his friend. It looks like they organised the street party. Much appreciated.

      Heaton History Group


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