First a declaration of interest. My grandparents moved to Jesmond from Fareham in Hampshire in late 1907. My mother lived there from 1912-2000. My in-laws live there still. I lived there until I was 24.
This well illustrated book has masses of detail; so much detail that for an old resident it cries out for more!
It brings back memories of how neighbours of my grand-parents in Lyndhurst Avenue had difficulty selling their house in the early 1960's because it may have been built over a mine shaft. It's still there today.
There are many maps. There are photographs. The details of the mines are all too scant because records no longer exist. The details of the mansions are more specific. There's little about the period before 1800, and the incorporation of Jesmond into Newcastle about 1837. However, this is a book more for the little people, the men and women in the, mostly, terraced streets. There were some conflicts when Tyneside flats with outside toilets were built so close to the big houses of the merchants and industrialists. That's well explained.
The strong religious fervour of the late Victorian and Edwardian era shines through. There was no shortage of places to worship, Catholic, 3 Church of England, Baptist, 2 Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and a Synagogue all appear. Competition was strong.
Today's drinking culture on Osborne Road is a new feature. Until the early 1950's in a suburb stretching from Jesmond Road to Gosforth and from the Town Moor to the Dene the only licensed premises were 3 small pubs, the Cradle Well on Jesmond Road, the Brandling Arms in Brandling village, and the old Apple Tree Inn which was closed in 1920. My crusading Temperance movement grandparents may have had something to do with that!
The beauty of this book is as much in what it omits as what it contains. Each page is but a summary of a story to tantalise those who've lived there - and know more! Many of the properties are now used as student accommodation, or are occupied by recent graduates. Most of them will be amazed to see the changes.
For those who grew up there this book needs to be 5 times the size. What about High West Jesmond and Little Dene, in Lodore Road, sometimes known as the White House because it was painted white every year? Designed and occupied by architect Mr Pringle who designed the Police and Fire Stations in Pilgrim Street. Or more about Methodist International House in Osborne Road, home for many international students studying at Kings College before it became the University of Newcastle? Or the breaking in of the allotments on Highbury during WW1 and on Moorfield during WW2, both having been reclaimed from the Town Moor? Of anti-aircraft ditches and air raid shelters? No mention I could find of the old city boundary stones on the edge of The Moor, either. Probably just as well to ensure they don't get vandalised - if they're still there!
Buy it; read it for yourself. If you thought you knew Jesmond you'll find something new on each page!! And you'll want to add to a second edition!
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