Curios and Bric-a-brac

Jump to: | Stone Structures | The Village Homes | Hidden Monkseaton | Whitley Bay FC
| Sewer Gas Lamps | Souter Park | West Park, Hillheads | Monkseaton West County Primary School
| Whitley Bay Masonic Hall
Stone Structures

Before traditional bricks were used, many buildings in the North East of England were constructed from sandstone, which was always in plentiful supply.

By the early 1900s, bricks began to replace sandstone as a building material and, excluding all the modern synthetic stone buildings and facings, relatively few original sandstone structures remain in Monkseaton, and most of what does exist lies within the central core of what used to be the old medieval part of the village itself.

Commencing from the lane which connects Bromley Avenue to Chapel Lane, a rugged stone wall adjoins the nearby glazier's premises to form the boundary edge of this pathway, and although the date cannot be confirmed, its origins probably relate to South West Farm.

Slightly south of this wall, next to the present clinic, the old Bygate Infants schoolhouse was originally a small single-storey stone-built cottage, later converted to include an upper brick-built storey. The ground floor is still clearly visible in sandstone with the first floor being rendered in mortar/pebbledash.

Opposite this house, a stone boundary wall which now encloses new apartments, once enclosed South West Farmhouse and stack yard, and was rebuilt in the 1950s when Chapel Lane was widened. The wall runs the length of Chapel Lane before curving east into Bygate Road where it connects with Garden Cottage, dating to the mid 1700s.

Looking south along a narrow Seatonville Road in 1920, the buildings of Burnt House Farm are to the left and, in the distance beyond the trees, Seatonville Farm.
The wall then continues on the north side of Bygate Road, and although repaired over the years with rubble and cement rendering, it continues with a short 'gap' to accommodate the terraced cottages (Nos. 6 to 10 Bygate Road) as far as Victoria Place where it extends towards the back of Front Street.

The lane, next to Kelly's DIY shop bears evidence of old stonework that was once part of the various farm buildings which stood in the middle of the old village, including Monkseaton Methodist Church.

Crossing to the North side of Front Street, the next stone structure is Monkseaton Cottage; probably the oldest building in the village.

Almost hidden from view behind the conservatory area of the Monkseaton Arms, remnants of the rear section of the old brewery wall become apparent, and further stonework from the brewery is evident on Relton Terrace, where it has been incorporated to form the boundary walls of the modern houses on Relton Place, while Percy Terrace also has stonework forming the base and foundations of the present houses.

When Monkseaton North West Farm, (at the top of Percy Terrace) was demolished in the 1920s some of this stonework was used to construct the triangular wall which until recently stood opposite the Ship pub. Sadly this was removed and used as infill when the nearby underground public toilets were paved over in 2006.

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The Village Homes in 1910. The house in the foreground is now 96 Village Court.
The Village Homes

In 1868, James Hall, a wealthy Tynemouth ship-owner, was instrumental in setting up the Wellesley Training Ship in North Shields.

The vessel was intended to act as an industrial school, preparing homeless and destitute boys who were unconvicted of crime for a life at sea and, by 1877, he decided to turn his attention to girls in a similar plight.

It was during this year that he felt that there was a need to create an institution for the reception and training of little girls who were either orphaned or destitute, and called for subscribers to come forward to establish a home where the training would work on the family principle of "Instruction in household duties which are strictly such as a woman would have to discharge in a poor man's home."

In 1879, the Duke of Northumberland provided a site between Norham Road and Duchess Street, and construction costs were met by a number of local wealthy benefactors, and so the Northumberland Village Homes were formed. (It is interesting to note that the nearby streets — Percy Avenue, Alnwick Avenue, Warkworth Avenue, Countess Avenue, Duke Street and Duchess Street — are appropriately named with obvious links to the Duke of Northumberland.)

Building work commenced on the Village Homes the same year and the first block of two cottages was completed and opened in 1880. Others followed in 1884 and 1888, with a final extension being completed in 1908.

Each cottage had its own 'Matron' or 'Mother', and the entire complex was occupied by a maximum of 150 girls, many of whom were brought in, in rags and tatters, and were kitted out in the home's distinctive uniform of a blue serge dress and a red cape.

By the late 1970s the homes were no longer in use, and they eventually closed in 1986 when the site was taken over for development into a modern housing project.

Although now extensively modernised, all of the original cottages still remain and have been tastefully integrated with newer buildings and selectively landscaped to accommodate individual and modern private housing needs.

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Hidden Monkseaton

Sometimes it is not always easy to see what is plainly visible, however much of our history is really quite clear if you take the time to observe. The secret is to cast your eyes just a little higher than usual the next time you're out and about, have a look around, and lots will become apparent just by moving beyond eye-level.

As far as Monkseaton is concerned, let's take a glance at just a few things from our past that you may have walked by many times and not even noticed:

1 Standing outside Seashells shop on Coronation Crescent, look to the upper wall of the house opposite (No. 4) where there is a lovely inscribed terracotta plaque signifying the name of the street.

2 An ornate plaque with the date 1910, adorns the corner gable of the corner house of Kenilworth Road and St. Ronan's Road, giving an obvious indication of when the houses were built.

3 Between the upper windows of the Monkseaton Arms, an elaborate pub sign is apparent on the east wall of Relton Terrace.

Left to right: Street Plaque on Kenilworth Road; Signboard on Relton Terrace; Street Sign on Coronation Crescent.
4 On Percy Terrace, a plaque above the canopy of the Ship Inn is inscribed: 'Ye Olde Ship Inn 1688, Rebuilt 1923'.

5 On Vernon Drive, a plaque near the main school entrance shows: 'Monkseaton Senior School 1932'.

Even from eye-level, sometimes the obvious can be overlooked too:

1 Situated on Relton Terrace, near Seaton Crescent an old wooden signboard indicates a footpath to Red House Farm. (Vanished in the 1960s.)

2 Painted on the stonework of Monkseaton Railway Bridge, Front Street, the faded letters 'EWS' are visible and indicate 'Emergency Water Supply', dating from WW2.

3 On Waverley Avenue close to the junction with St Ronan's Road, faded remnants of an elaborately painted wall advertisement for a glazier and leaded light manufacturer still remain.

4 Cement/Stone name plaques are embedded in the brickwork of every street on Seatonville Council Estate, and typify a 1950s style when the houses and streets were laid out.

5 Carved square and compass symbols, possibly having Masonic connections are incorporated on the apex of the wooden porches of Nos. 6 to 10 Bygate Road.

Of course, there are many more hidden treasures in Monkseaton so how many have you missed, and how many other hidden relics of the past lie unseen, unnoticed or undiscovered?

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Whitley Bay Football Club

Despite the absence of any records, it is believed that there has been a football club in Whitley Bay since about 1890, however there is no indication of where their first playing ground was situated.

Originally known as Whitley and Monkseaton Football Club, it was later renamed to Monkseaton FC and in 1950 it became Whitley Bay Athletic after many years in the minor leagues. On 14th June 1958 the club was re-formed as a limited company with the name 'Athletic' being dropped from its title. The first Chairman was a Mr J.W.S. Hedworth. The team then simply became 'Whitley Bay Football Club', following which they made a successful application to become members of the Northern League. The newly named team played their first game at Hillheads Park, their home ground on 27th August 1958 against Durham City, with the result being a goal-less draw.

Success came quickly, and by the 1959-60 season they had become runners-up in the Northern League. The next ten years saw the club emerge as the most consistent and successful amateur team in England. By the mid 1960s a decline in the social side of the club led to plans for a new club house, and within six weeks the project had been completed. The opening ceremony was conducted on 23rd December 1966 by the then chairman of Newcastle United — Lord Westwood.

The Seahorse was adopted by the club as it's emblem after a competition had been run. The winner was a Mr. Derek Hall who won 1 and a season ticket for his design. The Latin inscription beneath the crest is; 'Ludus est Omnis', which loosely translated means 'Game is All'.

The first supporters club was believed to have been established in the Black Horse Inn, Monkseaton in the early 1950s with many subsequent fundraising ventures which included Bingo sessions, social evenings in the Grange Hotel (now the Hunting Lodge), and monthly dances in the Berkeley Tavern at Whitley Bay. This led to the formation of the clubs 'Development Association', which provided revenue from weekly lotteries. Whitley Bay F.C. was elected to full membership of the F.A. in 1967 after five years as associates.

The Championship came to Whitley Bay in 1966 when during that year; they were the first Northumberland club to reach the Semi-Final of the FA Amateur Cup. Their stadium is located adjacent to the Ice Rink, and is capable of holding 4,500 spectators with 250 seats in the main stand. When floodlights were installed in 1968, a friendly game against Newcastle was the first game played.

With the club on the up and up it was decided to apply to the Northern Premier League which proved successful, and they have had several notable cup runs in recent history. In 1990 they beat Preston North End on the way to reaching the 3rd round proper of the FA Cup where they were beaten by Rochdale. In 2002 they won the FA Vase beating Tiptree United at Villa Park, and in 2009, the team enjoyed a fine season when they reached the final of the FA Vase and won it after beating Glossop 2-0 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday May 10th in front of a crowd of 12,212 fans. 2010 once again saw Whitley Bay win the FA Vase after a 6-1 win over Wroxham F.C. at Wembley on 9th May.

Their history and success continue, with more details available on their website at

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Sewer Gas Lamps

In the 1890s, Joseph Edmund Webb, a builder from Birmingham, invented and patented his sewer gas destructor lamp, and later formed the Webb Engineering Company.

Within ten years of their introduction these lamps were to be found all over the country and in many other parts of the world, but now they are extremely rare.

Old sewers were often badly laid out and poorly vented, so there was always a danger of disease (or even explosion) from methane and fetid stagnant gases which could build up in the system.

These lamps, which were connected to the ordinary town gas supply, were installed at high points in the system and were coupled directly to the underground sewer. They were usually lit by three mantles which were rarely extinguished.

The burning mantles created an intense heat within the hood, giving a 'chimney effect' to cause an updraught which drew air from the sewer through a copper tube inside the column to harmlessly burn off the sewer gas, thus converting the methane into Carbon Dioxide before being released into the atmosphere. One lamp was capable of venting an area of up to three quarters of a mile of sewer.

The columns are made of fluted cast iron with a curved glass lantern and fitted with two ladder bars which also support the hinged top of the hood when open for cleaning or maintenance. Maintenance requirements were low, changing the mantles and cleaning the glass would be the only regular items. The lamps carry cast iron base plates which are worded: 'J.E.WEBBS PATENT SEWER GAS DESTRUCTOR' and 'WEBB LAMP Co. LIMITED BIRMINGHAM'. The lantern heads bear the name 'SUGG'.

Between 1900 and 1910, seventeen of these lamps were installed in Whitley Bay and Monkseaton, however there are now only ten remaining in the area, three of which are Grade II listed monuments. The remaining examples are entered on the Local Register, demonstrating their significance and importance.

They are situated as follows:

1 Brantwood Avenue, outside No. 4
2 Front Street, corner of Pykerley Road (Grade II Listed)
3 Deneholm, corner of The Dene
4 St Georges Crescent, corner of Beverley Road
5 The Grove, corner of The Gardens
6 Earsdon Road, corner of Grange Park (Grade II Listed)
7 Zetland Drive, outside No. 5
8 Park Road, corner of Marine Avenue
9 The Links, bottom of Marine Avenue (Grade II Listed)
10 Promenade, adjacent to Watts Slope

In 1970 the borough council bought up all the spare parts available at the Webb works, since they were going out of production. Any other parts now have to be obtained through cannibalisation.

In 1993 proposals were made to refurbish the ten lamps remaining in Whitley Bay and Monkseaton by the owners, Northumbria Water, prior to handing them over to North Tyneside Council who now have overall responsibility.

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Souter Park Bowling Greens in 1930.
Souter Park

When the old Monkseaton Station was demolished in 1915, the North Eastern Railway Company held title to the land, which was still lying derelict in 1921.

It was during this year that a deputation of Whitley ratepayers called on Whitley Council to develop the site, and so discussions were held by the Council to purchase the land for the laying out of a recreational park.

Councillor C.W. Souter led negotiations with the North Eastern Railway Company, and was instrumental in acquiring the site on behalf of Whitley Council.

Despite some opposition to the cost, the unemployment grants committee agreed to allow the Council to borrow 3,900 in order to use unemployed labour to lay out the new park, which included Bowling Greens, Tennis Courts and a Putting Green.

The park was completed in November 1922, and Councillor Souter's efforts were recognised when the park was named in his honour, as a result of which, he provided an ornamental drinking fountain, that was installed in the park in May 1923. In December 1946, a statue surmounting the fountain was stolen and never recovered. The park has been in continual use since it was opened, and still exists to this day with many of its original facilities.

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Although in poor perspective, this picture dates to around 1880 and shows the brickworks at West Park from a position slightly to the south east of where the present Ice Rink stands. The trees on the 'horizon' are actually standing on Hill Heads Road and illustrate the depth of the quarry at this time.
West Park, Hillheads

The area of land adjacent to the Ice Rink at Hillheads which is now used as a cricket and recreation field is known as West Park.

Originally forming the north-western section of the Magnesium Limestone Quarry at Marden, West Park was purchased by Richard Heckels Nesbit around 1875 where he set up a steam brickworks. Nesbit also bought Bygate Farm in Monkseaton at this time, and became a prominent member of Whitley Urban District Council where, alongside Alfred Styan, he became a pioneer builder in Whitley, and was responsible for much of the construction work on Albany Gardens, Clarence Crescent, Edwards Road, The Esplanade, Laburnum Avenue, Station Road, and Mafeking Street (later renamed as Fern Avenue).

By 1889, the brickworks at Hillheads were exhausted, so Nesbit ceased operations and landscaped the entire area in order to create West Park where he resided until his death in 1911. West Park was then sold to Mr. George Steel, a Florist and Nurseryman who owned gardens in Park View, Whitley Bay. George Steel utilised West Park as Market Gardens where he built greenhouses, stables and outbuildings, as well as making a vast number of improvements to the land.

West Park at this time was a deep quarry with steep sides, approximately 90 feet below the level of the adjacent Hill Heads Road with a row of four cottages at the bottom. There were 134 wood-fronted clay steps descending from the main road into the quarry, terminating at the rear of the houses.

George Steel and his family took up residence in Nesbit's former house at No. 1 West Park (the end house to the right of the picture). He rented out the remaining three houses. Steel retained ownership of West Park until 1924, when Whitley Urban District Council placed a compulsory purchase order on the land, forcing him to move out shortly afterwards. When the compulsory purchase took effect, the cottages were demolished and the council began infilling with thousands of tons of earth and rubble, commencing at the western edge of the land, and, by 1931, controlled refuse tipping was also in progress.

Eventually, the original 90 foot deep quarry/park was raised to its present level, grassed over and landscaped to become what is now better known as West Park.

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Monkseaton West County Primary School

Built by Hastie Burton of North Shields at a cost of over 38,000, Monkseaton West County Primary School was the first school to be completed in post war building in the North East of England.

The brand new Monkseaton West County Primary School, Appletree Gardens in 1949.
Complimenting the newly constructed Seatonville Council Housing Estate, the school which took over a year to build is situated on Appletree Gardens, and surrounded by spacious playing fields.

The school had been built because of the raising of the school leaving age, and the ever increasing child population of the area. It was designed to accommodate 320 children and had dining rooms and a canteen (the first school in Whitley Bay to have these facilities).

The doors were opened for the first time at 9am on March 2nd 1949, with 384 pupils on the roll (54 above its design capacity). The official opening ceremony took place on May 11th 1949 in the presence of several officials and dignitaries.

At this time, this school was one of the most modern and up to date of its type in the North, and at the opening ceremony, many visitors and pupils were unable to get into the large assembly hall and had to listen to the proceedings in the classrooms and passages as they were relayed throughout the school premises.

Mr Albert Ford, who came from Rockcliffe Junior School was the first headmaster and his teaching staff were appointed as follows:
Class 1 Mr G. Rowe
Class 2 Mr G.A. Pougher
Class 3 Miss L. Peace
Class 4 Mrs G.A. Stevenson
Class 5 Mrs J.M. Walker
Class 6 Miss E.M. Brown
Class 7 Miss G.L. Taylor
Class 8 Miss J. Grey
Class 9 Mrs M. Dunn
Class 10 Mrs H.M. Howe
Class 11 Mrs M.B. Lamb
By 1954, the school had over 500 children on the roll (180 more than it was originally designed for) and a report by HM school inspectors indicated that the premises were scarcely adequate.

Despite being well furnished and equipped, one of the twelve classes was being taught in unsatisfactory conditions in the school dining room. Use of the Assembly Hall for Music, Drama and PE had to be curtailed due to the high level of pupils, and this was to the detriment of the subjects for which the school had already earned a high reputation.

In spite of these handicaps, along with staffing difficulties, the school continued to provide outstanding education for boys and girls aged between seven and eleven.

Following changes to the education system the school was renamed Appletree Gardens First School, and now caters for the needs of children up to 9 years of age.

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Inside the Masonic Hall.
Whitley Bay Masonic Hall

Whitley Bay Masonic Hall, situated close to Monkseaton is situated on the corner of Norham Road and Park View and was opened for the first time on 13th March 1913. The building was used by Freemasons for many years as a place to hold their respective Lodge Meetings.

On the evening of 8th December 1941 an Air Raid took place over Whitley Bay, and a number of enemy planes were engaged in an attack on the town, during which time a salvo of bombs was released, one of which fell into the centre of Norham Road completely destroying the Masonic Hall and causing serious damage to neighbouring properties.

As a result, temporary premises situated at No. 220 Whitley Road were hired, and all subsequent Masonic Meetings were held there for a number of years afterwards.

In 1954, building work commenced to replace the Masonic Hall with a new single storey building, which was designed by William Stockdale of North Shields.

The building was opened in October 1955 by the Provincial Grand Master for Northumberland, RW.Bro. J.M.S. Coates OBE, and all Masonic Meetings at the coast resumed and continued to be held there up to the present day.

The two World Wars both had a great effect on English Freemasonry. Nationally, in the three years after the First World War over 350 new Lodges were set up, and in the three years after the Second World War nearly 600 new Lodges came into being.

In many cases the founders were servicemen who wanted to continue the camaraderie they had built up during their war service, and were looking for a calm centre in a greatly changed and changing world. Freemasonry in Whitley Bay was no exception and over the years, up to 13 different Lodges and a number of other Masonic side orders have met in this hall, usually on a monthly basis with different meeting nights and large attendance figures. Many of these individual Lodges derived their names from localised places, such as Whitley Lodge, Monkseaton Lodge, St.Mary's Lodge, BrierDene Lodge, Belvedere Lodge, and Links Lodge.

Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies and is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts (moral lessons and self-knowledge) by a series of ritual dramas — a progression of allegorical two-part plays which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge and which follow ancient forms, using stonemasons' customs and tools as allegorical guides. The Square and Compasses have therefore long been regarded as the universal symbols of Freemasonry.

Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: it seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
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