Our vote for Heaton’s favourite caused quite a storm, with coverage in the Evening Chronicle and lots of interest at and after John Grundy’s talk. The shortlist, all of which were nominated by Heaton History Group members or Twitter followers, was;
Heaton Windmill We have to kick off with this one. Iconic is an oversused word but this feature of Armstrong Park is certainly a familiar and much-loved landmark and the one we chose to be Heaton History Group’s logo and feature on our home page. The windmill dates from the early eighteenth century and was already a ruin by 1844. Constructed from coursed squared sandstone, it’s been partially restored since then and is grade 2 listed. Has to be a contender.
People’s Theatre It’s the art deco detailing together with, for many people, happy memories of time spent inside which makes The People’s such a favourite. The building was designed by Marshall and Tweedy and opened in 1936 as the Lyric cinema. During its first week, the two films shown were ‘Little Colonel’ with Shirley Temple and ‘Sweet Music’ with Rudy Vallee and Ann Dvorak. (Thanks to Tomorrow’s History for that information). Conversion into a theatre toook place in 1962. The first play performed there was George Bernard Shaw’s ‘ Man and Superman’. (Thanks to People’s Theatre). The photos below were taken in this week’s snow and shortly after the cinema opened in 1936. (Thanks to Newcastle Libraries for this one.) Does it get your vote?
Shakespeare House Although it’s in a pleasant, secluded, green corner and, when we checked it out on a snowy day in March, the birds were in full voice, from the front 47 South View West doesn’t look too different from many other houses in Heaton. It’s the gable end that makes it one of many people’s favourite local landmarks. William Shakespeare’s face (based on Martin Droeshout’s famous engraving of 1623) looks down on streets named in his memory.
The surrounding terraces – Stratford Grove, Warwick Street, Malcom Street, Bolingbroke Street, Mowbray Street, Hotspur Street etc – were built before the end of the 19th century but when some houses were demolished 100 or so years later to make way for Hotspur School, the decorative brickwork was put in place.
The People’s has been putting on Shakespeare plays in Heaton regularly since the 1960s. The RSC’s been coming to Newcastle since 1977, with members of the company often lodging locally as well as intermittently appearing at the People’s. The South View West gable end seems fitting somehow and it makes us smile.
The Wills factory was retro even when it opened in 1950. Its foundation stone had been laid four years earlier but it was built to a pre-war art deco design by Cecil Hockin, an Imperial Tobacco Company in-house architect. (WD and HO Wills was actually part of Imperial Tobacco as early as 1901, so even the buidling’s name was retro from the outset.) Apparently at its peak, 6 million Woodbine cigarettes a day were manufactured at the plant. The complex included a theatre and other leisure facilities for staff as well as the factory itself.
Production ceased in 1986. Its last days were documented by photographer Isabella Jedrzejczyk and can be seen on the Amber Online website with text by Ellin Hare.
The disused building was given Grade 2 listed status to prevent demolition. It stood empty for 10 years until Wimpey Homes converted the former front wing into 114 apartments. The building is still a nationally important example of art deco architecture and its elegance and clean lines, together with its prominent position on the Coast Road, makes it a local favourite too. Luckily it just sneaks into Heaton – the adjacent railway line marks the boundary with Wallsend.
If you or anyone you know used to work at the factory, please get in touch. We’d love to find out more about what it was like to work there.
King John’s Palace Built before 1267 and so the oldest still (partly!) standing building in Heaton by some distance, King John’s Palace is a constant reminder of Heaton’s rich history. Despite its name though, it almost certainly doesn’t date from the reign of King John, which ended in 1216. Best estimates date it around 1255. There are traditions, however, that both King John and King Edward I stayed in Heaton which may have caused confusion. The building’s alternative names of The House of Adam of Jesmond or Adam’s Camera (‘camera’ here means ‘chamber’ or a usually round ‘building’), give better clues to its history. Adam was a knight and staunch supporter of King Henry III. Records show that he became unpopular for embezzlement and extortion and that he applied to Henry for a licence to enclose, fortify and crenellate his house. Adam went to the crusades from which he didn’t return and his house was allowed to fall into disrepair.
Thanks to the Jesmond Dene History Trail for the above.
Beavan’s Beavans had been trading since the 19th century – an 1879 directory lists ‘Fred Beavan, draper’ on the North side of Shields Road, where Parrishes later traded – but the lovely building on the corner of Heaton Park Road and Shields Road is Edwardian and contains many features, such as the round and stained glass windows, which are typical of the period. A railway line used to pass under the building which apparently meant that permission wasn’t granted to build upper floors on the west side. The new store was opened in 1910 and traded until (we think) the early 1990s. You can still see original name plates ‘F Beavan Ltd, Ironmongers and Furnishers’ as well as a sign which reads ‘Beavans – the great cash drapers’. the building now contains apartments.
If you or anyone you know used to work at Beavan’s or know more about its history, please get in touch. We’d love to find out more.
Ringtons The former head office of the Ringtons tea and cofee business is the first 1920s building on our short list. Its distinctive white stone, green and yellow tiling and the elegance, especially of the slightly older southern half, along with its association with a long-established, local company make it a favourite with many people. It’s now the auction house of Thomas N Miller, with Ringtons operating from more modern premises next door.
Ringtons was established in Heaton by Sam Smith and his business partner, William Titterington, in 1907, at first delivering tea from small premises in the avenues. Thank you to Ringtons for the older photograph which shows a busy scene from when the firm was using the horse drawn carts which helped make it famous – and notice the long-demolished houses in the background. Can anyone help us date it?
Sam Smith and his family later lived Warton Terrace. To find out more about Ringtons and its long association with Heaton, go to the small museum housed in the company’s current Algernon Road HQ which tells the fascinating story of the firm’s history.
Ringtons building detail
St Gabriel’s Church The tower of the parish church of St Gabriel is one the tallest structures in Heaton and so the church can be seen from some distance. It’s built in a free Gothic style of snecked sandstone, with a roof of graduated lakeland slate (Thanks to English Heritage for that information). Th e style and materials help it give quite a villagey feel to this part of Heaton and mean that it’s much loved not only by its congregation.
The church was designed by FW Rich (also responsible for Ouseburn School and Bolbec Hall) and built in 1899 on land donated by Lord Armstrong. The south transept and chapel were added in 1931. It is now Grade 2 listed. This photograph held by Newcastle City Libraries was taken in 1957/8.
Heaton Road Co-operative Building One of several former Co-ops in Heaton, this fine three storey brick building adds character to the southern end of Heaton Road. It was built in 1892 and, as well as the date, carries the inscription ‘Newcastle upon Tyne Cooperative Society Limited, Heaton Road branch, Registered Office 117 Newgate Street’ on decorative white stonework between the first and second floors. Over recent years, many different businesses have operated from the ground floor but currently the owners of cafe ‘The Wild Trapeze’. florist ‘Hazy Daisy’, ‘Gold Star Gym’ etc are ensuring it’s looking better cared for than for some years.
If you could help us find out more about the history of the Co-operative movement in Heaton or have photos or memories of any of the stores, we’d love to hear from you.
Chillingham Road School Chillingham Road Primary School (as it now is – there used to be a secondary school on the site too) holds a special place in Heaton’s, and indeed Newcastle’s, history and in the heart of many Heatonians. It’s the oldest still functioning school in Newcastle, with its 120th anniversary celebrations taking place later this year.
A sum of £15,130 15s was sanctioned by the Newcastle School Board to build the school which, when it opened in 1893, was considered to offer the most sanitory environment of any educational establishment in the city, with a state of the art ventilation system comparable with the best in Leicester,Liverpool, Glasgow, Nottingham and other cities. The first head was Mr R H Gilhespy, formerly of Arthur’s Hill School.
It’s also the school one of our best known historical figures, Jack Common, attended – and we can still read about life in Heaton and at the school just before World War 1 in his autobiographical novel ‘Kiddar’s Luck’.
There’ll be a chance to learn more about the history of Chillingham Road Primary School later this year when a programme of events is planned to celebrate its 120th birthday. On Wednesday 23 October Heaton History Group and the school will jointly present a talk about Jack Common by Dr Keith Armstrong. More details to follow.
The photograph above dates from 1966 and is held by Local Studies at Newcastle Central Library.
Heaton Park Pavilion The original pavilion was erected in 1884 as an aviary housing exotic birds and animals. It looked out over a croquet lawn and, beyond that, a bowling green. You can read what Jack Common said about the pavilion in a previous blog. It was later extended to accommodate a cafe and other facilities. A lot of people think the original building still stands but it was badly damaged by fire in 1979.
The surviving ironwork was restored at Beamish Museum and, painted in typically Victorian shades of dark red, black, cream and olive, used in a new building, which was made from handmade yellowed bricks. The reconstruction won a Civic Trust award. It is currently occupied by Sambuca, an Italian restaurant.
Its history, Victorian elegance and association with carefree summer days in the park combine to make it one of Heaton’s favourite building.
Thanks to Heaton History Group Honorary President, Alan Morgan, for the above information. You can read more and see photographs in his book ‘Heaton: from farms to foundries’ or better still come to his illustrated talk on 22 May. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place.
And thanks to Newcastle Libraries for the image of the old postcard, which is undated.
High Heaton Library The most modern building on the shortlist and the third library to have been built the site. It was designed by Ryder Architecture Limited (who were also responsible for the City Library) and was commended in the 2009 Public Library Building Awards. its curving façade and intimate scale seem to contributes to its welcoming feel. Click on the third link below to see it looking beautiful by night. Sadly it’s due to close in June this year.
Here are links to images of the three libraries:
Wooden building taken in 1966 (Thank you to Newcastle Libraries)
Circular library taken in 1967 (Thank you to Newcastle Libraries)
Third library taken in 2009 (Thank you to Paul J White)
Corner House When you see the the Corner House, you know you’re nearly home to Heaton, standing prominently as it does at the corner of Heaton Road and the Coast Road. The Corner House was built at the same time as the Lyric cinema (now People’s Theatre). It’s changed quite a bit over the years but, empty roads aside, is still immediately recognisable in this photo taken in 1936 soon after it opened.
We especially like the Corner House because it’s where our 2013/4 programme of talks will kick off on April 17th with John Grundy’s Buildings of Heaton.
Hadrian’s Wall Ok, this last nomination is a bit contentious. Is it in Heaton? We think so. It forms the southern boundary of our catchment area and would definitely have been considered part of Heaton, when it was an independent township until the early 20th Century. We’re historians. It’s in. Is it a building? Debatable. The accepted definition usually involves some sort of shelter and human occupancy, but there were turrets every 500 metres or so and so we reckon the whole structure was, therefore, one very long building. And a lot of the foundations are still down there – somewhere. At nearly 2000 years old, it’s by far the oldest structure in Heaton, the most popular tourist destination in Northern England and the only World Heritage Site on our list so it’s got to be in the running. You can follow the line of it marked out by studs on the south side of Shields Road. And also we wanted an excuse to mention that we’ve just booked Paul Bidwell OBE, Head of Archaeology at Tyne and Wear Museums and expert on Roman archaeology, to give a talk later in our 2013/4 programme. Watch this space!
We had to stop there, although we realise that there were other contenders, many of which we’ll feature on this website over the coming months.
The top seven, announced on 17 April 2013, and listed here in reverse order were:
7th – Ringtons HQ
6th – People’s Theatre
=4th – Beavans and Heaton Park Pavilion
3rd – the old Heaton Road Co-op
2nd – Wills Building
and the winner: Saint Gabriels Church
Thank you to everyone who voted and congratulations to FW Rich, architect, and everyone associated with the church!