Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Day Out in Gosforth - Part I

One lovely day (for a change) Vivien, Lucy and I met up to do a walking tour of Gosforth, nearer Vivien's neck of the woods.  She brought a tour guide and read aloud as we walked.  In between interesting passages, we just yakked.  I marvelled at my luck in finding two people whose interests are so like mine - history, walking and yakking.   Not to mention crafting and frugality! 

People have been walking Gosforth High Street for a long time.  Not only is it part of the old North Road, between London and Edinburgh, documents from the 12th Century mention Gosforth Parish Church and there is evidence of a Saxon church on the site.  (Saxons ran England between the Romans and William the Conqueror, roughly between 400 and 1066). 

Most of the history in the leaflet was more recent, of course.  In the early 19th century the two main landowners  in the area were Job Bulman and Charles John Brandling, both now having pubs named for them.  In fact, before being known as Gosforth, it was called Bulman Village, something even Bill didn't know. 

There were also two large coal mines, called Coxlodge and Gosforth, each within a mile of this main road.  In the election in 1826 there were only 6 votes, as only males over 21 who owned property could vote.  Job James Bulman, of Coxlodge Hall, sold land to the Coxlodge Colliery who built and sold freehold houses to literally create more votes. 

We were invited to imagine the time of active coalmines, with waggonways that crossed the main road to distribute coal from the mines.  Even as late as 1949, there was a man's job to stop traffic - such as it was - to allow the colliery engine to cross.  A gatepost still remains.  We dutifully took photographs.  It was a bright sunny day; perhaps we had sunstroke.

Does anyone remember ushers/usherettes at movie theatres - the ones who carried flashlights/torches?  Imagine a 1937 Royalty Cinema with 12 usherettes and a chocolate boy.  Sadly, it's been demolished.

This ghastly conglomeration of businesses resides in a sad building which was an earlier theatre, before 'talkies'.  The Globe Restaurant gives nod to the former Globe Electric Theatre, opened in 1910, where older residents of the area recall paying tuppence (2 pence) to see a cinema, sometimes with accompanying orchestra.  Being off Gosforth High Street, it obviously hasn't been protected as part of the Conservation Area.  

This terrace of buildings used to be council offices. 

The archway lead to the Fire Station between 1896 and 1990, for the first decade a Volunteer Brigade. 

We heard about the history of such places The Gosforth Hotel (love the blue tiled exterior)

and The Queen Victoria pub. 

This one was built in 1899, replacing a former inn of the same name.  This originally had stables with haylofts, a coach house and a shed for bicycles.  I could imagine that last feature being in demand again one day; well, one could live in hope.

Also, the Woodbine Road Chapel,

built by Mr and Mrs Alexander Robson to the glory of God and as a memorial to their daughter, Emma, who died in 1879. 

We had a cafe lunch on a table out doors.  I was feeling practically euphoric with all the blessings of two friends, warm weather and a bacon and Brie cheese panini. 

Historical sightings were regularly interrupted with visits to the brilliant charity shops.  Parts of Gosforth are wealthy and their charity shops reflect this, not so much in posh designer names but in just well made, little worn items.  My main challenge was to remember (a) my ordinary lifestyle and (b) the many clothes I already own.  I did fall for a purple suede shirt, however. 

We also admired the old tram sheds, now a row of shops on the High Street. 

Apparently there used to be horse-drawn trams (which run on tracks) down the High Street which were then electrified and then replaced by trolley buses (which need no tracks but source electricity from overhead cables) and eventually today's regular buses.  I can't help but think about the mess we saw in Edinburgh on a recent visit where tramlines are being installed.  Back to the future or something.

The GP "surgery" (Brit:  a place where a doctor, dentist, etc., can be consulted; or, also Brit:  an occasion when an MP, lawyer, etc., is available for consultation) started out as a

Doctor's office with charming little clock tower....

Maternity and Child Welfare Centre erected by public subscription as the Gosforth War Memorial.  So much more practical than a statue with plaques all over it, don't you think?  We wondered if such a thing would be possible in modern times.

...better seen from the park at the rear of the building.

Something I didn't know at the time I snapped this photo of the United Reformed Church, now a very posh fish restaurant, is that this is where Bill's parents were married.  I wonder if they'd give us a discount on that basis?

Sadly, Lucy had to leave us soon after lunch to go watch her youngest son do something clever at school.  However, Vivien and I continued...

oh, and by the way -

!!!Happy Independence Day!!!


Carolyn said...

Historical buildings have such an innate beauty separate from their memories, don't they? I'm shocked though, that a church has been transformed into a restaurant!

Anonymous said...

Great tour! And I agree, it is fabulous having friends with similar interests and sharing such adventures with.

Beryl said...

Sounds like a wonderful day! Here in Oklahoma, there is constant popping as fireworks explode all around us. It's been years since I lived somewhere with legal fireworks, so this is very surprising. And sparkling and colorful.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to go on a walking tour with you. Such a shame about that old theatre...and I do remember theatres with ushers. I probably wouldn't show the restraint you did in the charity stores.