Tag Archives: Colin Veitch

The People’s Theatre: Past, Present and Future

The People’s Theatre has been a thriving part of our community in Heaton for over 50 years, but its origins go back a further half century. Formed in Edwardian Newcastle, it owes its existence to an unlikely combination of socialist politics and bohemian cultural values, brought together and personified by Colin Veitch, the man who captained Newcastle United through their first golden age of league and FA Cup success. On Wednesday 24 June, we’ll hear the People’s story and find out about plans to refurbish the building for another 50 years.

Entrance to the Peoples 2013

Chris Goulding is an English teacher at the Royal Grammar School. He is the author of books and journalism on local history and literature, as well as the NE children’s bestseller Tinseltoon. A former professional actor, he has been an active member of the People’s Theatre for over 30 years.

The talk will take place at The Corner House, Heaton Road, NE6 5RP at 7.30pm (Doors open at 7.00pm. You are advised to take your seat by 7.15pm). Please book your place by contacting maria@heatonhistorygroup.org /07443 594154.

All With Smiling Faces – Football Double Bill

Heaton has a proud football history. Newcastle East End, one of the two clubs which merged to form Newcastle United, used to play their home games on Chillingham Road at what was considered one of the top grounds of the day. Arguably the Magpies’ greatest ever player lived for many years in Stratford Villas where you can find a plaque recently erected in his honour. And local semi-professional club, Heaton Stannington, currently in Northern League Division Two, is itself at least 112 years old. We are delighted to announce an evening at which you can hear about Newcastle United’s early history and the story of the Stan.

Paul Brown, author of ‘All with Smiling Faces: how Newcastle became United, 1881-1910’ will talk about the early history of the Magpies, from the club’s formation to its first FA Cup win, where the team was captained by Colin Veitch.

Colin Veitch

Colin Veitch

Kevin Mochrie, Heaton Stannington’s official historian, programme editor and PR Officer will cover the history of the Stan from its formation to the present day.

1936 Ardath cigarette card - Heaton Stannington

1936 Ardath cigarette card

The talks will take place at Heaton Stannington FC, Grounsell Park, Newton Road NE7 7HP on Wednesday 10 December at 7.30pm. Entry fee is £2 (free for members of Heaton History Group). Capacity is extremely limited so please book by contacting maria@heatonhistorygroup.org / 07443 594154. We ask you to arrive and take your place by 7.15 after which we’ll allocate any unclaimed seats to our reserve list.

There will be a bar open from 7.00pm, serving real ale and we’ll have a football themed raffle. It should be a great night!

Colin Veitch plaque unveiled

On 25 September 2013, after a campaign by Heaton History Group, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at former Newcastle United captain and People’s Theatre co-founder Colin Veitch’s former home in Heaton by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle. Below are some photographs of the event, links to media coverage and other sources of information about this Renaissance man:

Colin Veith's commemorative plaque

The plaque was made possible by the support of Newcastle City Council, the PFA, Chris Goulding and Keith and Sam Smith.

Bob Moncur, Lord Mayor and party

Bob Moncur, the last Newcastle captain to lift silverware, spoke about Colin’s achievements

Colin Veitch's great great great niece

Members of Colin Veitch’s family were present. This is his great, great, great niece

Veitch family photo

A photograph of Colin (fourth from left) and other family members given to Heaton History Group by Janet Keighley, his great niece

Members of Heaton History group, the Veitch family, the Smith family with the Lord Mayor and councillors.

Members of Heaton History Group, the Veitch family, the Smith family with the Lord Mayor and councillors.

Media coverage
The Journal
Evening Chronicle
Sky Tyne and Wear
NUFC.com On the home page at the time of writing but hopefully will be archived later.
Evening Chronicle

Colin Veitch resources

Colin Veitch website

Colin Veitch on Wikipedia

Colin Veitch on Spartacus Educational

Poem for Colin Veitch

Colin Veitch’s Twelve Days of Christmas

The People’s Shakespeare

 

 

Poem for Colin Veitch

To commemorate the unveiling of a plaque at Colin Veitch’s former home at 1 Stratford Villas, Heaton, local poet, Keith Armstrong, has written this poem:

VEITCH

(in memory of Colin Campbell McKechnie Veitch, 1881-1938)

One man that has a mind and knows it can always beat ten men who haven’t and don’t.’
George Bernard Shaw

Football brain,
you thought with your feet,
treading the boards
in a dynamic theatre
of passing action.
A winning way,
love of the glorious day
and a sense of history
from Heaton Park
to socialism.
Your story,
from the pulsing Tyne
to the Geordie trophy room,
keeps us hoping
on Gallowgate,
alive with dignity
and strong respect for the ideal of community
and the black and white love
of fairness.
Battling away,
in a skilled midfield
and in the stinking trenches,
you fought
for your troubled lilting city
and all of those
who ever kicked a ball
in its intimate soulful avenues
.

Colin Veitch made a total of 322 appearances for Newcastle United, scoring 49 goals. He captained the United side which won League Championships in 1905, 1907 and 1909, the FA Cup in 1910 and were FA Cup finalists in 1905, 1906, 1908 and 1911, and also represented England on 6 occasions.

He was also an actor, musician, composer, political activist, soldier and much more besides.

Read about Colin Veitch’s busy Christmas 1906.

On Wednesday 25 September 2013, Chris Goulding will give a talk about Colin Veitch at The Corner House, Heaton. Priority will be given to ticket holders. Find out more and how to reserve a ticket.

On Wednesday 23 October 2013, Keith Armstrong will give a talk about the writer Jack Common at Chillingham Road School, Heaton. Jack was born in Heaton and wrote brilliantly about growing up there. Find out more and how to reserve a ticket.

Colin Veitch’s Twelve Days of Christmas

The days immediately following Christmas 1906 were bleak across much of Britain, with heavy falls of snow, icy temperatures, strong winds, even thunder and lightning. Much to the disappointment of North East football fans, the Tyne-Wear derby due to be played at Roker Park on Saturday 29th December, was postponed.

Holiday fixtures

Newcastle United’s Colin Veitch could be forgiven for secretly welcoming the enforced rest. Footballers in those days faced a punishing schedule over the festive period that would make today’s superstars blanch. In the previous week Newcastle had already played three matches. The derby was due to be their fourth in eight days, all away from home, at a time before luxury travel, pristine pitches or squad rotation.

The previous Saturday, 22nd December. Newcastle had played and beaten Manchester United at United’s Bank Street ground. Colin had scored a penalty in a 3-1 victory. Veitch’s defensive performance in shackling United’s best player, Menzies, was singled out for particular praise in the press.

Colin Veitch

Colin Veitch

Perhaps the game took a lot out of the Tynesiders because three days later, on Christmas Day, Newcastle travelled to Blackburn where an almost unchanged team (just one of the full backs being replaced) suffered their heaviest defeat of the season, 4-0 in front of a big holiday crowd of 35,000.

And the unrelenting schedule continued the following day, Boxing Day. Snow was already carpeting much of the country but players and fans, not to mention train companies, were clearly made of stern stuff back then and United fulfilled their fixture at Stoke City. There were just two further team changes and Colin played his third game of the week in a 2-1 United victory. The win left the Magpies just two points behind Everton at the top of the league.

New home

Newcastle will have had a long and difficult journey home and, had it not been for the weather, would have played their fourth away game in eight days the next Saturday. Colin Veitch and his wife, Minnie, had recently moved into a new house at 1 Stratford Villas, Heaton, where on September 25th Colin’s achievements as a footballer, an actor and a politician will be recognised when the Lord Mayor of Newcastle unveils a commemorative plaque.

We’ve chosen to highlight this period of Colin’s football career because, when carrying out work on their home, the current owners of the Veitches’ former house, found a copy of the Evening Chronicle dated 29th December 1906 under the floor boards. It doesn’t take too much imagination to guess that instead of sitting with his feet up on his unexpected rest day, Colin had instead found himself crouched under the floor mending a burst pipe. His day would get even worse, championship rivals Everton beat Middlesbrough 5-1.

Colin Veitch

Colin Veitch

But Colin and the team soon got back to work. Just two days later on New Years Day 1907, they at last played a home game. A football-starved Newcastle crowd of 30,000 cheered the team to a 2-0 win on an what was by all accounts a quagmire of a pitch. Colin and most of the Newcastle team played their fourth match in eleven days but, luckily for them, it was their opponents Derby County’s fifth! Not to be outdone though, Newcastle played a friendly the following day against Corinthians and won 3-0.

Champions again

United lost to Everton later in the month but showed much greater resilience than their rivals over the second half of the season. They won three matches in four days over Easter and on 7 April, when Blackburn beat Everton, the Geordies were confirmed as champions for the second time in three years.

This was undoubtedly the Magpies’ golden era: in the eight years between 1904 and 1912, they won the league three times and played in five FA Cup Finals, albeit winning only once.

Not only did Colin Veitch play a leading role in the football team’s success, he was also, in 1907, a founder member of the players’ union and in 1911, a co-founder and leading actor (and composer) of the People’s Theatre. In his spare time, he also wrote for the Evening Chronicle!

Special day

Come to our talk at the Corner House, Heaton on Wednesday 25 September to find out more about Colin Veitch, his part in the history of Newcastle United, the PFA and the People’s Theatre – and what his story tells us about the Edwardian era and life in Newcastle and Heaton at that time. Booking is essential as a capacity crowd is expected! Contact maria@heatonhistorygroup.org/ 0191 215 0821 / 07763 985656 to book a place.

The plaque, which will be unveiled earlier in the day, has been made possible by Newcaste City Council, the PFA and private individuals. We’re delighted that we’ll be joined at both events by members of Colin’s family, who are delighted that his achievements are being recognised by the city.

Colin Veitch: Edwardian superman

This talk by Chris Goulding, which will take place at The Corner House on Wednesday 25 September 2013 at 7.00pm, will look at the remarkable life of the Toon’s own Renaissance man, Colin Veitch. Probably the greatest player ever to take the field for Newcastle United, Veitch was a versatile and charismatic captain as well as an innovative tactician and an early campaigner for the professionalisation of the game. His life off the pitch was every bit as multi-faceted, with Veitch involving himself in politics, trade unionism, theatre, journalism and serving his country during the First World War. Veitch’s extraordinary story sheds fascinating sidelight on life, sport and culture on Tyneside during the first half of the Twentieth century.

Colin Veitch

Colin Veitch

Veitch_cigarette_card_2__front_-_cropped_

Dr Christopher Goulding teaches English at the Royal Grammar School. A former professional actor and published author, he has been a member of the People’s Theatre for over 30 years. He has carried out extensive research into the life and career of Colin Veitch and maintains the Colin Vetch website.

Heaton History Group and Chris Goulding have campaigned for a commemorative plaque to be displayed on Colin Veitch’s former home in Heaton. We are delighted to be able to announce that this has now been approved. Details of the site, generous supporters and the timetable for the unveiling will be announced soon. STOP PRESS 25 September, to coincide with our talk, has now been pencilled in and the Lord Mayor has it in her diary. Perfect! Confirmation and more details soon.

Booking for the talk is open. Entry is free for members. The non-members’ price is £2. Contact Maria Graham (0191 215 0821 / 07763 985656).

Find out about Membership.

Inflammatory Incident in Heaton Park

That afternoon’s local derby at Roker Park, and how it would be affected by the gales which had disrupted shipping all week, were no doubt among the big topics of conversation in Heaton on Saturday 8 March 1913. But by the next day all that had changed. It was an incident in Heaton Park itself which was on everyone’s lips and was front page news across the country and even beyond.

According to the newspaper reports, at half past midnight Constable John Smith, who lived with his wife and two young children in Trewhitt Road, had noticed smoke while on his beat along Jesmond Vale Road, which separates Heaton from Armstrong Park. He alerted the park superintendent who lived on site and together they investigated. A large shelter and ‘bowls house’ was ablaze, the flames fanned by the strong winds. Although Red Barns Fire Brigade was quickly on the scene, the shelter was soon a charred ruin. (A photograph of the building taken when it was new can be seen in Alan Morgan’s book: Heaton: from farms to foundries.)

News reports

What made the incident so newsworthy was the policeman’s apparent discovery between the railings around the bowling green of a piece of card which bore words along the lines of ‘No peace until votes for women’. Women’s footprints were also said to be visible in the soft ground. Newspaper accounts of the wording, the  size of the card and even the names of the park superintendent, Robert or Richard Brown, and the name of the bowling club, variously Heaton and Armstrong, vary so historians need to treat the detail with some scepticism but it seems to have been agreed that hundreds of pounds worth of damage was done. Besides the building, highly prized bowls valued at two to five guineas a pair, many won in competitions, along with canvas shoes and ‘goloshes’ (as they were spelt in 1913) were reportedly destroyed. Many people were said to have visited the site of the ‘outrage’ later that day.

Context

Women had campaigned for the vote since the mid 19th century but the term ‘suffragette’ was apparently first used in the Daily Mail in 1908 to describe militant ‘suffragists’. The suffragettes, under the leadership of the Pankhursts and others, had increasingly resorted to violence, at first mainly stone throwing, to get their message across. In November 1912, they began to target post boxes, apparently burning 2,000 letters in Newcastle alone.

In January 1913, after a proposal to give women the right to vote was defeated in parliament for the 20th time, the suffragettes further upped the ante. Some women went on hunger strike and they also began to target sporting clubs and venues. The Heaton Park incident was one of the first arson attacks in a campaign which culminated in Emily Davison being killed by the King’s horse during the 1913 Epsom Derby. The suffragettes’ activity was only suspended on the outbreak of WW1. Following the war, in July 1918, women over 30 were given the vote; the same September they were allowed to stand for parliament and finally in 1928 women over the age of 21 were, like men, eligible to vote.

Possible witnesses

From a local history perspective, it’s interesting to speculate about who might have been among the large crowd that gathered in the park that Sunday:

Jack Common, the writer, was nine years old and lived at 44 Third Avenue. In his autobiographical novel, Kiddar’s Luck, he wrote about his solitary Sunday walks through the park to Jesmond Dene: ‘two bowling greenswatched by a terrace on which stood a huge aviary holding up the dial of a southward facing clock, flower beds of painfully formal calceolaria, scarlet geranium, lobelia’ The excitement must surely have drawn a crowd of street-wise boys there that day.

John Thomas Gilroy was 14 years old and lived with his mother, father and seven brothers and sisters at 25 Kingsley Place, only yards from the park. He had already won a scholarship to study at Armstrong College Art School and by the following year was a cartoonist for the Evening Chronicle. He went on to a hugely successful career as a commercial artists and was most famous for the ‘Guinness is good for you’ advertising campaign. Did he or his father, also an artist, sketch the scene?

Newcastle United footballer, Colin Veitch lived on the other side of the park at 1 Stratford Villas. He had played in the 0-0 cup draw at Sunderland and, according to the local press, the next day the players visited North Shields for ‘brine baths’. He may well have walked through the park to catch a bus or tram and, as both a political activist and sportsman, he will surely have expressed his views about both women’s suffrage and the plight of the bowlers.

Finally what role, if any, did the evocatively-named Florence Nightingale Harrison-Bell play? She was the first woman member of the Independent Labour party’s national administrative council (replaced in 1898 by Emmeline Pankhurst). In the early 1900s she was a key member of Newcastle and District Women’s Suffrage Society. In January 1911 at the Women’s Labour league Conference at which she was the delegate for Newcastle, she moved a resolution in favour of adult suffrage. She lived at 6 Hotspur Street, with her husband, Joseph Bell, later to be elected MP for Newcastle East. If she wasn’t involved, who was? We will probably never know.

Further Research

Heaton History group has been invited by Beamish Museum and Northumberland Archives -Woodhorn to take part in a project on the suffragette movement. If you’d like to help us find out more about the incident or about the suffragettes of the area and disseminate the information to a wider audience, please get in touch. chris.jackson@heatonhistorygroup.org