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Outcome of an Informal Chat

There were vague memories of a dentist living in the big house near the Hall, with a caravan in the garden which he used as a surgery.

In early 2005 a group of people from Forest Hall began to meet in Clousden Hill Recreation Hall and reminisce about Forest Hall and the surrounding area. Joan Gallon, Joyce Oxley, Nancy McQueen, Doris Hutchinson and Elsie Robinson made notes of an informal meeting they had and then shared the following memories with the group. As the conversation progressed a great deal of information about Forest Hall, West Moor, West Lane and other localities emerged, houses that are no longer standing and the people who lived in them, characters well known in the district, incidents that happened and all sorts of fascinating facts.

The ladies spoke about Fanshaw House, somewhere near Wagonmans or Wagonners Row, where the rooms were let off as flats. Mrs Parks, Doris and Vera Andrews and Mrs Blackett were all mentioned as living there at one time. The house belonged to Mr Wilson, who owned other property in the area. Could this be the Wilson who lived in the Hall and could he be connected to Wilson Terrace?

Other buildings that were remembered were Lynholm House and Greers Farm. Lynholm House stood opposite the Newcastle Co-op, now Amici’s. It was demolished in the late 1950s or 60s for council cottages (Lynholm Grove). Greers Farm was remembered for a crash between a train and a motor car that happened nearby, but the date of the event wasn’t clear.

Mrs Robinson remembered Swallow Pit Cottages, round about where Asda now stands, and the railway lines with the colliery engines. The lines ran over the road and it was difficult to cross when the engines were shunting wagons and coal from Swallow Pit.

Miss McQueen mentioned a Women’s March going to some demonstration in Newcastle. Demonstrators were given a meal at the George Stephenson pub at West Moor. She thought about 1921 and could it be about a pit strike? The George Stephenson was referred to as ‘Charlie Chambers’.

In Nicholson Terrace there was a big shed where Oliver’s Builders worked. This was next to Dale House, where the family lived. Mary kept cows and sold milk and eggs. The cowshed, with its ventilation bricks, is still standing. On the other side of the work shed was a stone shed, and next to that a stone stable where the Co-op horses, used for pulling the delivery carts, were stabled at nights. These two buildings were both standing until a few years ago. Two modern buildings have been built in their place.

Mr Batey, the cobbler, had a shop further up the street. He was well known for his sign, which had a huge green shoe painted on it. There was another shop near Mr Batey, in a room in her house known as Bessie Blakey’s. Mrs Murray had a handy shop at the top of the street in Oakfield House. Next to that was an undertaker, Robson or Robinson, who had an assistant from Nicholson Terrace known as “The Bodysnatcher” as he was always quick off the mark with his tape measure. Storey’s Lemonade had a place at the top behind Oakfield Terrace. The long shed where the lemonade was bottled is still there.

Killingworth Road was known until fairly recently as “Clark’s Lonnen” and the pub on the corner as “Clark’s Hoose”, after the landlord Mr Clark. After many recent changes this is now ‘The Coach Inn’. Barber Bros. had a nursery, still known as Barber’s Gardens. It ran from Great Lime Road up to Killingworth Village. Both local men and women worked there. They also had a stand in the Green Market at Newcastle. The flowers were planted in wide strips and looked very colourful at different times of the year – a bit like Dutch bulb fields. For a long time after they closed people used to walk through the field and pick the flowers still growing. There were two big sheds beside Killingworth Road, where the flowers were bunched and packed, ready for market. I remember there were big buckets of coloured dye, blue orange and pink. They stood the white daisy chrysanthemum stems in this and the petals turned into the chosen colour. Two or three years ago this look came back into fashion but it was thirty five years since I used to send my little lad over the road with half-a-crown for a bunch of flowers on a Friday afternoon.

The group remembered several green grocers, including Bobby King, who had a horse and cart and later a van. Also, Billy Sim with a green van and Alfie Makepeace, who lived in Park View, West Moor. Joe Robinson was the milkman for West Moor. He worked for Tommy Cleminson, where Lizzie Picket’s shop was. Joe Crosby had a shop where Knight’s Garage stood. Before that it was a Post Office run by Alan Turner.

Teddy brown, the boxer, lived opposite the garage (now the Copse) on Station Road. He had two sisters who ran a news agency on the corner of Clousden Hill in a wooden hut. Later, they moved into the end house and used a front room for the shop. It was a newsagent for many years and just closed down in the last year or two.

A barber called Joe ? had a shop in Killingworth Road which was once a butcher, not far from Field House where the horses were stabled. A new house was built recently on the site. A tin church used to stand on Great Lime Road, behind Balcray Cottage. It was St Columba’s Church of England and it was used as a scout hut when it closed as a church. The Store Hall, Great Lime Road, was a branch of Cramlington CWS. It has been a butcher shop, a Labour Exchange and an NHS office – now it is empty.

Doctors the ladies remembered were; Philips, Law Anderson, Brookes, Emerson, Dag and Good. There were vague memories of a dentist living in the big house near the Hall, with a caravan in the garden which he used as a surgery. His name was Mr Dresser.

Finally, Mrs Robinson remembered the Blackie Boy House – a pub standing on Blackie Boy Lane (now known as West Lane). She could remember it being used as a house, with a greenhouse. A bungalow now stands on the site.

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