To the north

Sat. 9th Sep., 2000

North of the city centre, Jesmond is home to a mix of middle class, professionals and students. It contains the renowned Royal Grammar  and the Central Newcastle High, two of the region's most famous public schools.

Here is the bell tower, of St George's Church, built in 1888 as a gift from Charles Mitchell. Originally from Aberdeen, he was a shipbuilder at the famous Walker yard and joined with Armstrong in 1882. He spent £30,000 (about £2.5 million or $4.2 million in today's terms) on the church construction and donated the land. Local schoolchildren helped lay the mosaic floor.

That famous campanile can be seen from various parts of the city. Some say that it can be seen from Rothbury on a clear day!

To be sure, there are other active churches in Jesmond, the Methodists meet in St. George's Terrace (see below) and the piously bigoted populate the infamous Jesmond Parish church, located on Jesmond Road. That place is run by the most reactionary homophobic  cleric in the north. His building and his views will have no place on this site.

Another point of interest is that in the centre of Labour political support, Jesmond teeters on the brink and sometimes elects a Tory member of Parliament.

Here is the original church in Jesmond. St. Mary's Chapel was built in 12th century with later additions in the 14th. By 1548, however, records show that the chapel was no longer in use , and King Edward VI gave it to the Corporation. It passed through several private hands before being eventually returned to the city by Lord Armstrong in 1883.

This chapel and the nearby well were places of pilgrimage for centuries; miracles and cures were supposed to have happened here. Pilgrim Street in the city is named from this as it was the principal access from the south. Some devout people still leave offerings here today.

Jesmond's name is thought by some to derive from "Jesus Mound", or something similar, but there is little evidence for this. It is much more likely, given the various ancient spellings and allusions, that it comes from "Jese mouth" or mouth of the Ouse, that little but powerful river flowing south through the city to the River Tyne. Remember, the letter "J" has been pronounced as "Y" until fairly recently, as it is still in Latin and Romance languages today.

The river flows through the nearby Jesmond Dene, a beautiful park area that deserves a visit on its own, so will only recieve a fleeting mention here.

Most of the housing in this district dates from the mid 1800s onwards. Here is a typical town house of the Victorian era. Many of the larger dwellings have been converted for multiple occupancy

As a mater of fact, here is a Victorian Terrace, beside the then newly built North Eastern Coast Loop Railway, now part of the Tyneside Metro in Eslington Terrace. I lived here for a short period in the 1970s.

Here is a view looking south along Osborne Road, the main route through the district. Its huge houses are now mostly hotels or apartments.

Here is Acorn Road, the local shopping centre. These streets were laid out before the motor-car was in use, and are now impossibly narrow. The plan to allow parking on one side only with a nearby plot of land to be used as a car park was defeated by local traders who threatened to withhold rates (local taxes) if the experiment was made permanent. So, congestion and bad temper rules now.

Below is St. George's Terrace. More shops and the local Methodist Church.

This Post Office pillar box stands in Osborne Avenue. It was placed here in 1870 and has seen continuous use since then. This type of Victorian hexagonal box is often referred to as "Penfold" after its designer. The familiar round and oval models came somewhat later.

Jesmond Cemetery was laid out in 1836 and the magnificent gatehouse and lodge were designed by John Dobson. He was eventually buried here.

The Victorians were no strangers to ostentation and overstatement. Not only did they re-invent history and create an ethical standard built on hypocrisy, but they also took themselves too seriously. They earnestly believed that their ways and standards would continue unchanged into the future of mankind.

These grand monuments to self importance were paid for by the sweat of the common people. Perhaps nothing does change!

One modest grave celebrates the untimely death of John Nisbit from Heaton Park Road, a colliery pay clerk who was robbed and murdered on the Newcastle to Alnmouth train in 1910.

A local man was soon arrested, and the case eclipsed the then infamous Dr. Crippen murder in London.

John Alexander Dickman was tried, found guilty and was hanged on 9th August, 1910 in the city prison, protesting his innocence to the end. Only four more executions were to take place at the gaol before it closed in March 1925.

As for John Dickman, he lived in Lily Avenue, Jesmond, and the picture below shows what it looked like at the time. Compare that with the view of the same scene today. The £300 (about £25,000 $42,000 in today's values) that was stolen was never recovered and I don't think that digging up the floorboards will reveal the gold sovereigns! There was considerable popular doubt of Dickman's guilt at the time; his trial was said to have been biased by the publicity and local feeling, and would have been fairer if held out of the region.

There was also some identification evidence that should not have been allowed as the police put two witnesses in a position to see the defendant in the interview room from a corridor before a vital line-up. They were invited to look through a window, and the door was opened slightly for a better view. Both witnesses took up the offer. It has been suggested that the police and local politicians were under considerable pressure to secure a conviction and this led to short cuts being taken in the investigation and the wrong man being hanged for the murder.

This case still exercises the minds of local historians and a forthcoming book by John Eddleston, author of "Murderous Tyneside" and "The Encyclopędia of Executions", will seek to prove Dickman's innocence and even name the real culprit!

Click here to see high quality album copies of these and other photographs from the same shoot

If you should arrive here via a search, or be missing the navigation on the left hand side, click this button.

[Main Archive 1] [More 1] [More 2] [More 3] [More 4] [More 5] [More 6] [More 7] [More 8] [More 9] [Index]

Site and contents (unless otherwise stated) © Tim. Pickford-Jones and Timmonet, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.