Much of Heaton’s housing stock comprises terraces which have stood for a hundred years or more. You might think at first that they are all the same and haven’t changed in that time but you can roughly track the development of local vernacular architecture through time if you start in the extreme south west of Heaton, where some of the houses are over 125 years old and walk north east. You’ll also spot the new extensions, loft conversions and myriad of other changes that people have made to their properties over time. Some of the most striking differences are the alterations that people have made to their entrances: their front doors and, especially, their porches. The photograph below of Meldon Terrace shows that originally every house had a wooden porch with a slate roof.
Meldon Terrace, early 20th century
Obviously wood degrades in our climate unless it is very well looked after and so the number of original porches is declining year by year. Indeed, it’s perhaps surprising that there are any left at all a full century and a quarter after the houses were built. It can also be difficult to know what is original and what is a copy, a much changed original or a later addition. This article simply celebrates and records wooden porches of some of the older terraces of Heaton as seen in early 2023. All of the properties featured were built in the 1890s.
South View West
Some of the oldest houses in Heaton are at the far end of South View West, the block on which Shakespeare’s head and shoulders has since been created in brick on the gable end. These houses are well looked after and the porches enhance their appearance but were they originally full length like those in the Meldon Terrace photo above?
Among the residents of these houses around 1897 was H Winterburn, a detective, and two head of households who described themselves as ‘foremen’. These occupations give us a feel for the status of the people who called the terrace home at that time.
There are a few similar canopies on nearby Malcolm Street. J Merrilees, a rent collector, lived at the property below c 1897.
There are also a number of properties grouped together that have fully enclosed wooden porches. A Pattinson, a joiner lived at number 33 below. Is this porch some of his handiwork?
There are a number of full length open porches on the south side of Warwick Street, eg:
Two more foremen lived at 69 and 70 above and J Begbie, a cutter, and A Renton, a commercial traveller at 41 and 43. Note the spindles on the top of the porches of 41 and 43. Very few of these survive but there is another at number 13 and this one has spindles at the sides as well. A Mrs E M Cummings lived here just before the turn of the last century.
Heaton Park Road
On Heaton Park Road there is a pair of properties that not only have their spindles preserved at the top of the porch but they also point rather menacingly down at visitors.
And although this article is primarily about wooden porches, there are other vulnerable decorative features surviving on the opposite side of Heaton Park Road:
We don’t know who they are but world champion cyclist, George Waller and his brothers built houses on this road and he lived just a few doors down. Perhaps he was having a bit of fun with his own likeness or those of friends or family? Maybe someone can tell us?
Some of the finest wooden porches in Heaton can be found on Falmouth Road. There are many that are well preserved or that have been restored or added more recently in a variety of styles.
Around 1897, N Wanless, a grocer, lived at number 9; J Briggs, a waterman at 83 and R Milne, a blacksmith, at 85. Among the other occupations represented on Falmouth Road at this time were a photographer, a surveyor, a caulker, a bookbinder, a ship surveyor, a bottle manufacturer, a wherry owner, a bicycle agent and a brewer.
There are also a number of properties with ironwork balustrades which have survived the ravages of time, including enforced removal during the Second World War.
Finally, let’s return to the street pictured at the top of this article. A number of full-length wooden porches can still be found on Meldon Terrace.
In the late 1890s, J McNeil, a journalist, was the ‘head of household’ at 98 and H Clarke, a draughtsman, was at 100. At 126, was A Straiton, a commercial traveller, and, at 128, Mrs I Moor.
Meldon Terrace, in the late 19th century, also seems to have been something of an enclave for artists and other creatives (as it may well be now). Among the residents c1897 were HR Molyneux, a musician; H Rothfield, a picture framer, J J Prembey, a bookseller, and, at number 101, John Andrew McColvin, a noteworthy painter.
McColvin’s paintings are in a number of public collections. We haven’t yet found one depicting a Heaton scene but you could imagine this one having been inspired by neighbours leaning on their fences and chatting to each other on Meldon Terrace (and on Mowbray Street, where he also lived) – and then romanticised a little. The search for one showing a full length wooden porch goes on.
Can You Help?
Do you know more about any of these porches – or porches and the vernacular architecture of Heaton more generally? Or have we missed your favourite Heaton wooden porch? We’d love to hear from you (See ‘Leave a reply’ just below the title of the article) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also let us know what architectural features you’d like to see featured in a future article.
Researched and written by Chris Jackson of Heaton History Group. Modern photographs all by Chris Jackson.