Sunniside Local History Society


Loosing Hill

At the beginning of the 17th Century, there was a community established of about fifteen families at Loosing Hill, (then termed as Lousing or Lowsen Hill) and it remained so into the first half of the 18th century. However, by the beginning of the 19th century there had been a fall in population, due to the decline in coal mining and the numbers of wagons using the Tanfield wagonway. A lot of work at Loosing Hill, as well as at Streetgate (pictured above just past East Sunniside Farm), was connected with the wagonway. Keeping the wagons and the way in good repair, stabling and shoeing horses, and leading the wagons to the Staithes at Dunston. Although there was a resurgence in coal traffic in the late 1830's, it did not bring about the need for scores of wagon drivers as in former times. This was because of the re-laying of the Tanfield way with iron rails, and the use of stationary steam engines and self acting gravity inclines, making the horse largely redundant. The new railway also caused loss of work to many Keelmen at Dunston, due to the coal being sent to South Shields for direct shipment. Most of the work on the new railway was in maintenance by Platelayers and Labourers. After the enclosure of Blackburn Fell the Liddells of Ravensworth came to own all of Loosing Hill with the exception of Union Cottage.

On leaving Sunniside and going down the Gateshead road toward Streetgate, we go down a dip where a tributary of the Blackburn, which issues from a well (stained with iron oxide) in the Banky field, crosses beneath the road through a culvert, making its way to the Whinnies. Before the culvert was laid the water trickled into a small pond, beside the pond was a well in the bankside.

On the right hand side, and leaving the road, you follow a path up towards the old railway line. This length was once known as Simpsons Lane, and roughly where 22 Burdon Park is now, there was a stone cottage dating from at least 1805. Close by grew two yews and some fruit trees, here in the 1840's lived the Tempest family. John Tempest (died in 1865 aged 84yrs) had been a Keelman and then worked as a Colliery Labourer at Marley Hill, his son Thomas was a Wagon Rider on the railway. In about 1880 William Simpson (died 1890) a Coal Miner, came here from Medomsley and his son Thomas, also a Miner, followed in his place. Tom died fairly early in life, and his wife Elizabeth was left to raise a family of eight children on her own. She ran a market garden on a three acre plot where Burdon Park (built 1988) now stands. She kept a mule to pull the plough to prepare the land for planting, there was also a glasshouse for bringing on the seedlings.

Mrs Simpson retired to Elm Street in 1925, her son Thomas continued the garden as a side line to his main job as a Miner. Her other son Harry, also a Miner at Marley Hill pit, moved to Sandygate in 1930 where he started up a small allotment business, gradually extending the allotment to three acres, to become Simpson's Nurseries. The cottage was abandoned in about 1936, and by the late 1950's Nature had claimed it back to her bosom. During the 2nd World War, Simpson's plot was taken over by Mr Jobling of East Sunniside farm for food production, then the Douglas Brothers grew brassicas on it.

Continuing on the path we come to the old railway, and crossing over we can continue by a permissive path to "Carraigh Thurragh". There was once no footpath at all here, the official crossing being 100 yards up the line where a notice gave due warning to pedestrians, not to trespass on the railway. However, people still used the line as a short cut between Pennyfine Road and Sunniside so regularly, that the L.N.E.R. granted it a permissive route status. Just before coming to the rear of "Carraigh Thurragh", there is a shed on the left standing in the field where rhubarb used to be 'forced'. Here there was a stone cottage, single storey with three rooms, and a red pantile roof. Jack Richardson lived here from 1890 to 1914 and called it Garden Cottage. He had a market garden on the three acre plot surrounding the cottage, he was also Sexton at St Cuthberts Church Marley Hill up until 1905.

Stan Douglas, Market Gardener and cowkeeper lived here in the 1920's and 1930's. The cottage was condemned by Whickham Council in 1955, being at least 150 years old and lacking even basic sanitation, although with a bit of money it could probably have been modernised. The plot has raised cabbages and leeks for many years, and recently for Christmas trees. The Douglas family are pictured above c1905, left to right back row: William (father), Bill, Mary (mother), Cecilia. Front row: Elizabeth, Stanley, Alfred and Annie.

We then come to "Carraigh Thurragh", extended to twice its original size and known for many years as "Union Cottage", standing on a plot of two acres. The land was allotted to Robert Thirlaway on the enclosure of Blackburn Fell. His grandson Thomas Grey Thirlaway came here from Streetgate Farm in about 1855, he built Union Cottage, and he died there in 1907. He worked at Marley Hill pit as Foreman of the Cartmen His daughter continued living there along with Miss Telford, infants Teacher at Marley Hill Colliery School. After the second World War, George Tulip ran a Poultry Farm up until 1963 when he moved to Lintz Hall Farm to expand his egg and poultry business. Some remember seeing a whale jaw bone at the entrance to Union Cottage, forming an arch.

On going down Pennyfine Road we re-cross the old railway, and here were the gates and a gate cabin painted white. From 1725 until 1962 laden coal wagons had 'run' down Bakers Bank incline, probably named after Albany Baker, the Surveyor responsible for making the wagonway. Bakers quarry in Washing - well Wood may also have been named after him. He lived at Fugar House from 1714 until 1724 and in 1769 he lived at Trench Hall. Baker’s Bank gravity haulage incline is pictured above on the left. Baker’s Bank Control Box with workers C Henderson, N Christer, E Watson and N Callon is pictured to the right.

In 1732 the wooden chaldron wagons held 53cwt. of coal, and it was agreed by the Grand Alliance partners that the dimensions of the wagons going down the 'way' would be, length at top, 7 feet, length at bottom, 4 feet 4 inches, breadth at top, 4 feet 7 inches, breadth at bottom, 2 feet 2 inches, depth of wagon 3 feet 10 inches. This would ensure uniform volume of load per wagon. The wagons were later fitted with manually operated brakes, it was possible to dispatch them in two's and three's and hold them on the down-hill gradients, the horses following at the rear. With the laying of the new railway, a Brakesmans cabin was built at the top of the incline, around 100 yards above the gate crossing, and there were two large wheels recessed into the ground, set about five to ten degrees off the horizontal. The single coil of steel rope (one and a quarter inches diameter) passed around the binding wheel, and then crossed over to pass around the brake wheel drum, some sixteen feet in diameter.The brake wheel was controlled by the Brakesman so that the rope could be slowed and brought to a standstill. The short end of the rope nearest to the brake wheel was attached to the set of loaded wagons making the descent of the incline. Whilst the other end ran over the sheaves against the guiding rollers ( these made quite a noise when in use) down the length of the incline, (one mile and 1:11 gradient) and was attached to the ascending empty wagons. The men at the top and bottom of the incline were in touch with each other by block bell and telephone, the system was in operation not only during the day but also well into the night when the need arose. The optimum tonnage was 93 tons loaded going down, and 55 tons of 'empties' going up, the wagon sets consisted of three or four trucks according to their capacity, travelling at a speed of twelve to sixteen miles per hour.

At the top were two kips, one on each side of the central track, the loaded wagons were shunted down the central track, and the empty wagons were brought up and led alternatively via the left and right kips. The empty wagons then moved slowly by gravity to stop in the sidings. On the opposite side of the line to the Brakesman's cabin (made of dark red brick), was a brick made cabin for the Set Riders and it was also used as as a storehouse, it was built around 1910. Also on the southern side was a coal siding where wagons were shunted over a two bay drop, it was used mainly for coal to local houses, but also lime for Farmers.

The following letter is one of the many interesting and informative e-mails we receive:

Message Received: Oct 15 2009, 03:43 AM

From: "maureen robinson" Subject: Sunniside

This morning I received a copy of Coals to Newcastle from a friend and I have now read the book and watched the DVD and found them both fascinating. Although I now live in Canada I grew up in Pennyfine Road and remember well the trucks crossing the bottom of Pennyfine.They were the cause of many missed buses to Newcastle, although school didn't understand this explanation for arriving late. Old Eli had a small cabin and manned the line. After marrying I moved to Lorraine Cottage around the corner of Pennyfine. ( The name was changed by the new owners to Pennyfine House in 1985. ) The attached house was Deacon Cottage and they had been built between 1680 and 1710, I believe, for farmworkers on the Ravensworth Estate. They were dated by the shape of the ceiling beams and the time of major building in the area. Whilst living in Canada I have subsequently discovered that my ggg grandfather, John Grundy born 1777 at Lamesley, lived in Wasting Row in 1841, Tinkler Row in 1851 and back to Wasting Row in 1861. He worked for Lord Ravensworth as an agricultural labourer and was still working aged 84. His daughter Beatrice married William Young. William was born in 1814 at Wasting Row and was a butcher and farmer of 14 acres. Beatrice and him lived in either Wasting or Tinkler Row for all of their lives. My grandfather, John Grundy born 1802, also worked as an agricultural labourer for Lord Ravensworth. Henry, his son and my g grandfather, was born in 1821 in Tinkler Row. When Henry married in 1841 John was descibed as a gamekeeper. Henry and his sons were all coal miners and left the land. When John died in 1888 he was an inmate of the Alms House at Ravensworth. In the DVD the late Albert Hodd talked about Watergate Pit. He was a family friend and I was told by him about a monk found in the mine in the 1940's or 50's. A colleague broke through a coal face and came upon a perfectly preserved sitting monk who had presumably died after being trapped. When the air hit the monk he crumbled. If this story is not apocryphal is there any other evidence that the area had been mined before Henry V111's time by a religious order ? I keep in touch with Streetgate and Sunniside through your web site.

Thank you, Maureen Robinson nee Russell

(Old Eli refers to Eli Watson of Sunniside)


On crossing the railway we see the workshop of Howorth and May Ltd. (Sermac) who repair and fit folding steel shutters and garage doors. From 1955 until 1985, Messrs. James and Partners, Steel Fabricators, were here making steel framework for garage roofs, steelgates and fences, also erecting agricultural buildings. The present structure was built in 1960, and up to eighteen people were employed during busy periods. Bob Prinn, Bus Proprietor, had the site for his garage in the late 1920's.

Between here and the 'Old Smithy' stood a Joiners workshop, a wood shed. Richard Clarke, Wheelwright and Joiner, came here in 1909. He travelled from Sunderland by train to Bensham, and cycled up to Streetgate over a period of four years. He then built " The Gables" at Streetgate, and came here to live with his wife. Dick worked in the Joiners Shop until 1947, by which time the place was on its 'last legs', he then made a workshop in the garage behind his house. By 1919 he had established an Undertakers business, in later years this was to become the major part of his activities, he kept working until his death in 1963. Mr Clarke always felt re- assured by a second opinion of his handicraft, especially in the appearance of his coffins and their interior dressing. For this, he usually asked Barbara Wallace the Farriers wife, to come round and give an opinion.

The last Blacksmith and Farrier at Loosing Hill was George Wallace (pictured above on the right with his father John and brother Bob) George retired in 1983. While the earliest on record was Luke Brown in 1797, who died in 1808 aged 81 years. In 1798 he aquired two fields called North Thorn near Sheel Raw from George Wray of Kiphill. Luke’s eldest son Martin, a Grocer, inherited this land. Edward Stoker took over as Blacksmith and his son Edward continued up until 1875, while grandson Martin went to work as a Smith at Byermoor pit. There was also William Young, Farrier, at Loosing Hill in 1841. In 1804 he was a Blacksmith and Farmer at Tinkler Row, in November of that year he was charged with a violent assault on James Storey of Whickham. Young absconded and a reward of two guineas was offered by Storey, to anyone apprehending and delivering Young to Martin Thompson the Police Constable of Whickham.

Young was described as 40 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches tall, of dark complexion, and speaking the Durham dialect. William Youngs son, William, was a Farrier at Streetgate.

Joseph Wallace (1844 to 1913) a Scotsman, took over the Smithy in 1875 and for a few years before this, he had found work as a Smith at Andrews House pit. On becoming the Smith at Loosing Hill he moved from Granby Terrace to Lottie's cottage, (the Smiths cottage). Then from there to the present brick cottage ( adjoining the Smithy ), when it was built in 1885, his family of eleven children being finally brought up there. The close behind the Smithy was rented from Lord Ravensworth, and here Joe's wife Isabella, kept a cow, pig and some hens, with byre and hay loft. Isabella ran the Smithy for a few years after Joe died, then her eldest son John took over. Born in 1876, he served his apprenticeship under his father, and then worked at Byermoor pit as Farrier and pick sharpener. He moved from Alexandra Terrace with his family of eight children in 1923, to Forge Cottage. John retired on his 80th birthday.

George Wallace became the third generation of the family to work at Loosing Hill when he began to learn the craft of General Agricultural Smith and Farrier work in 1933, at the age of fourteen years. The apprenticeship lasted nine years, George did not shoe his first heavy draught horse until he was nineteen, although his father had allowed him to shoe ponies before this. George and his father were members of the Master Farriers Association, whose sign was nailed over the Smithy entrance.The registered mark in the shape of an anvil, was stamped on each shoe they made. The Association set a minimum price on the charge of shoeing horses, amongst its members. Every Farrier in making a horseshoe, imparts on the shoe his own distinctive method of working. If shown a shoe made in the area, George could always tell which Farrier had made it.

During the 1930's up to 75% of the work was in shoeing horses mostly Clydesdales, with some cobs and hunters. Time spent in making a set of four shoes, seating and nailing them on, and smoothing off, could last from one and a half, to three hours. Much depended on the temperament of the horse with regards to shoeing time, some were nervous and had to be soothed or restrained. While others would not stand on three legs and had the lazy habit of leaning over the Farriers shoulder, making the job much more difficult. The Smith's apron was made of pigskin, the general Smithwork included repairing ploughs, harrows, hand tools such as scythes, the making of iron tyre rims for cartwheels, ironwork for the domestic fireside, fancy wrought iron gates, hinges and bar fasteners for cattle wagons, and scrufflers made for uprooting weeds. An iron tyring platform was set in the ground just outside the Forge, for fitting iron hoops onto cartwheels.

Watching the Smith at work was always fascinating to the local children, seeing the sparks fly, the rhythmic clang on the anvil, the warm red glow of the forge fire, the steam and hissing when cooling the metal in the water trough, and the burning smell when seating the hot shoe onto the hoof, and seeing the sureness of a master at work. The children were eager to help, and some were allowed to carefully pump the bellows or hold the horses head steady, and help to carry buckets for pouring water onto the hot tyres at fitting time. George and his father were extremely patient with children, indeed they appeared to enjoy their company, and were always willing to engage in conversation with them.

The period from the late 1950's to the 1970's was a particularly lean time for village Smithies, (it had always been difficult to get money out of Farmers) so George took on a milk round to ensure that a steady wage was brought in. He sometimes shod ponies at Whickham Riding School on the West Dunston Farm. In his later years he lectured on Farrier work at Durham Agricultural College, Houghall. In working with horses all of his life, he had a vast amount of experience and a great love for them. He was also President of Sunniside Riding Club, and sometimes helped Undertaker Dick Clarke out by being an Underbearer.

Three of John Wallace's children were gifted singers, they were members of Sunniside Chapel Choir in the 1920's and the 1930's, Bella was contralto, Maimi was soprano, and Bob a baritone. Maimi was only 10 years of age when she sang her first solo at the Chapel, she had her voice trained by Harvey Lambert of Newcastle. She was a member of the Dunston Operatic Society, and with Bob sang duets at choral events. Bob, (Chief Stoker at Dunston Power Station), was a member of the Burnopfield Male Voice Choir, and was for a time the Choir-master at Sunniside Chapel. On many an evening the Wallace family enjoyed a happy sing-song at their home next to the Forge. With Maimi at the piano and grandpa Robert Young from the Fell playing his fiddle, the sound of the hammer and anvil gave way to sweeter melodic notes. The cottage was eventually extended in 1992.

Before the enclosure of Blackburn Fell the present farm at Loosing Hill, along with several cottages nearby, covered 19 acres of old intack owned by the Liddells of Ravensworth, who as such had grazing rights on the Fell. After the enclosure, 41 acres of common land to the north of the farm was annexed to the farm. By 1841 Mary Richardson farmed 149 acres here, Amos Richardson was the Farmer from 1846 to 1862, and the farm had expanded to 175 acres, employing four men and one boy. On Monday, April 29th 1862, a sale of farm stock and implements of husbandry took place at the farm on behalf of the late Mrs Richardson.

Thereafter the farm has seen quite a number of tenants, Will Brabban in 1868, Cuthbert Carr in 1871, John Thompson in 1879 (formerly an Engineer for J.Bowes and Partners at Birkheads), Matthew Watson in 1890, John Rutherford 1894 to 1904, (the Rutherford family are pictured above left to right: Septimus, Tom, Bella, Lizzie, Anthony, Charlotte (Lottie married Billy Brabban) and Matthew). Michael Dobson ran the farm in 1910, Will Smith in 1914 and Robert Harcus in 1925. The only Farmer who stayed there for any length of time was John Jobling 1910 to 1945, and during this time the farm became known as Joblings Farm. It seems when Durham County Council bought the farm from the Ravensworth Estate, they divided it into two tenants, but by the late 1920's, the Joblings ran the whole farm themselves, as a mixed arable farm. In 1925 they had 22 cows, and Harry Wallace delivered the milk in the locality. Mrs Jobling made ice-cream, but to buy this you had to call in at the farm. Mr.Jobling leased part of a field behind the farmhouse to Sunniside Rangers A.F.C. The players changed in one of the back rooms at the 'Travellers Rest'.

The farm played host to Sunniside Carnival in the 1920's, to the mid 1930's. The procession from Sunniside to the farm was led by the 'King of the Carnival', Will Shorten, accompanied by a Jazz Band. Stalls were set up in the field. In 1928 Richard Clarke Jnr. won the magnificent sum of œ1 in a penny - farthing race. There was only one machine and the lads took it in turn to see who could pedal across the football field from one pair of goal posts to the other and back, in the fastest time. There were similar carnivals held at Burnopfield and Dunston, all in aid of charity. In 1934, the Sunniside and Marley Hill carnival committee allocated £18. 16s. to the Aged Peoples Outing, and 2 guineas each, to the Aged Miners Homes, Whickham Cottage Hospital and Sunniside and Marley Hill Nursing Association. The Sunday School children from Sunniside Chapel sometimes had their Summer tea outing at the farm. Mr.Jobling and his sons, Billy and Jack, moved to a farm in Yorkshire.

John T. Robson, came from Hart and took over from Mr.T.Crisp in 1965. He kept a dairy herd of 19 cows, mostly Freisians, a few Ayreshires, and he also sold some hay. He had 51 acres, while Mr.Kell next door had around 46 acres. Later, Mr.Robson kept about 13 suckler cows which ran with a Blonde D'Aquitaine bull. The farm has been unoccupied since 1990, in 1992 Durham County Council wished to refurbish the two Farm - houses and convert the Farm Byres into dwellings.

They also proposed building some houses to the east of the farm, there was a brick walled garden here. The farmhouse is curious in that the two dwellings appear identical, as if the farm was planned from the beginning to house two tenants. In February 1994, Durham County Council put up for sale 56 acres 45 acres of which were bought by the Woodland Trust, they were helped by the Countryside Commission as part of the Great North Forest project. The site now named Lottie’s Wood has been turned into a wild life haven, with trees being planted and access to the public. In 2007 following deep ploughing the site of a 17th century Bell Pit was discovered by Colin Douglas a member of Sunniside Local History Society. The full story is featured on our website.

On the opposite side of the road to the farm there stood a whitewashed cottage (marked on Fryers enclosure map of 1805 and pictured above on the left), this was the home of Lottie Brabban (nee Rutherford) and her husband Billy (pictured above on both photographs), who worked mainly at Marley Hill Coke Ovens up until his death in 1932. At times if Billy were unable to work, Lottie would go to work at the Coke Works in his place.

In her younger days, Lottie could work as hard as any man, even in her later years she remained strong both in mind and body. She worked in the fields for local Farmers and Growers, often seen wearing a cap, she could handle horses well and drive a carriage. When in her early 70's she sometimes wheeled a barrow load of coals along to her sister Bella at Grange House, Streetgate.

The Woodland Trust asked for suggestions to give a name to the meadow running from the rear of East Sunniside Farm, two members of Sunniside History Society, local ladies Sheila Gascoigne (nee Scorer) and Eleanor Baty (nee White) suggested that it should be named Lottie’s Wood.

1) The farm began to be called East Sunniside in 1920, about the time Durham County Council came to own it.

2) The cottages which made up the old hamlet of Loosing Hill have perished.

3) From the late 1830's to the 1870's Granby Terrace and the Sun Inn was included with Loosing Hill, but then it became part of "New Sunniside".

4) Loosing Hill is a name which for various reasons has been discontinued in modern day usage.


An early reference to Streetgate is connected with the lease of Coalmines at Cross Moor in the manor of Whickham dated May 20th 1570. Lamesley parish register dates from 1603, at which time the place was called Street Yeate and then as Street Yate up to the early 18th century, consisting of about 22 cottages. The 1858 Ordnance Survey map shows about 16 cottages clustered around what was once a green, centred where the public house is now, through which the Gateshead to Wolsingham road passed. Outside this cluster, a little to the west, are the pair of railway cottages and Ivy cottages. From 1908 to 1914 Shepton Cottages, Bewley Cottages and a number of substantial houses were built which gave a new lease of life to the village.

In 1914 John and Bella Lister retired from Grange Farm Whickham, to Grange House Streetgate. In the early 1920's Mrs Margaret Robinson kept a shop in her back room of Napier House, she made toffee apples and sold them to day trippers at Washingwell Wood. The Nursery at Cheviot View was started by Alf Douglas in 1940 who had formerly worked at Marley Hill Colliery, but was brought up at the Lingyfine garden. Ivy Cottages stood where the glasshouses are now. There were four stone cottages in the short row in 1858 but by the late 1930's only two were left. In the 1920's the Chambers family lived here and kept a few goats. Mr Chambers was almost blind and carried a basket around the neighbourhood selling tea, biscuits and yeast. This was in connection with the Braille Association, he also had a brother who was a piano tuner. Mrs Evelyn Hall has run Cheviot Nurseries ever since the early 1970's.

Joseph Harrison (1876-1954) lived at Seaton and worked on the Tanfield Railway. In 1891 he was the Switch Lad at the bottom of Bakers Bank and lived in as a boarder with Ed Shotton a Platelayer, at the Railway Cottage Fuger Bar. Joe was a prominent member of Sunniside Methodist chapel and could spin a good yarn, especially to the young folk. His wife Betty (nee Wallace) baked tasty teacakes and sold them in her sweet shop at Seaton in the 1930's.

Dr Thomas Nicholson Wilthew lived at 'Hillcrest' up until 1922 when he moved to Ravensworth Road Dunston. He had a day surgery at Whickham in 1914 and another at Swalwell in 1934. Haydon house was built for Mr & Mrs Edward Reed, parents of Reed Brothers, Motor Bus Proprietors. Edward, an Engineman at Marley Hill Colliery, died at Streetgate in 1915.

Rose Villa is a modernised stone cottage, which in the mid 19th century was part of a row of three cottages. The cottage was partly rebuilt about 1870 on the end of a row of four cottages. In the early 1920's Lily Place lived there, her family worked on the railway. Ponticherry is named as such on the 1858 Ordnance Survey map and the name also applied to a strip of land adjoining the pair of cottages. An older house used to stand on this site. Some think the name is derived from Pondicherry, a coastal town in southwest India which the British took over from the French as traders in 1761. In 1841 William Thirlaway was at Streetgate Farm, his sons John, and Thomas stayed until about 1860 when James Swan (1820-1889) came from Lingyfield. His father James Swan (1786 -1862) was the Farmer at Ravensworth Hill Head in the 1830's and 40's, and his brother Robert (1808- 1879) was Farmer at Old Ravensworth. The Swans came from Earsdon near Seaton Delaval and the family have remained at Streetgate up to the present time. The farm covered 110 acres but 7 acres were lost to industry when Watergate Colliery was built. It seems that prior to the First World War there was a clause in the farm tenancy agreement that a certain amount of corn had to be grown to provide pheasants from the estate woodlands with food and shelter. Errington Swan (1893-1967) regularly took battens of straw by horse and cart to the Teams Glassworks in the 1920's, the straw being used for packing. During haymaking time he set off about six in the morning to take refreshment to his father James Errington Swan (he was the Farmer at Ouzelaw in the late 1890's) who had been cutting hay with a scythe since early dawn. Errington then returned to the farmhouse for his own breakfast before making his way to school. The farm produced eight to ten ricks of oats and wheat, and in the 1940's Thompson of Lanchester and Parky Bates of Iveston came with their machines to thresh the corn. About nine people were needed for the operation and local Farmers helped each other out. In the late 1940's the farm had fifteen dairy cows and Bobby Swan was one of the last of the local Farmers to go round with a horse drawn milk float. The float which carried a drum had a step up at the rear, customers came out with a jug and Bobby filled it by pouring from a measure. The farmhouse was renovated in 1991 and the byres, stables, and poultry houses were removed to make way for residential development, (Street-gate Park).

In 1911 Nicholas Marr aged 15yrs, a Pony Driver at Andrews House pit, was killed whilst riding on top of a set of wagons laden with coal and going down Bakers Bank. His head hit Swans bridge and he fell onto the railway line. He normally travelled to work from his parents home in Whitehall road Gateshead by push bike, and had no authority to be riding on the trucks. The Bank Riders at this period were John Eltringham and Joe Harrison, they had warned people not to ride on trucks, but it went on just the same. Another fatality occurred on May 7th 1909 when Mrs Jane Courtley aged 23yrs. of the Teams, was killed by a coal wagon at the bottom of the bank near Watergate. She had rode down on a set of wagons and was crushed as she got off. It was most unusual for a women to risk life and limb in this way.

About 1856 Robert Stott, Tailor and Publican, moved from the Public House at Low Streetgate to open up the Union Inn, which he renamed 'The Rose & Thistle' in 1868 (pictured above). His sons George and Billy were both Butchers, and premises for their trade was beside the Pub. Billy took over the Pub in 1880 and renamed it 'The Rose Shamrock & Thistle', known by some as the Middle House or the Halfway House. Billy's wife Lizzie had the licence in 1902, she eventually retired to Fuger Bar Tollhouse. Tom Storey was the Publican in 1910, the house was considerably enlarged in the 1960's and in 1987 was renamed 'The Rose'.

Near the Pub was a Cartwrights shop where Thomas Liddell (1766-1849) worked, (pictured above with his children). Edmund Robson worked here from 1841 to 1865, followed by his son John up to around 1878. Tom Liddle then took over but died early in life. His son John (1875 -1939) was an Apprentice Joiner in 1891 and was assisted in the shop by George Hogg, Joiner and Cartwright. John became a travelling Draper after the First World War, and was in partnership with his brother-in-law Will Fenwick, John lived in Allendale house in 1921.

Some of the Young family of Streetgate were craftsmen, Will Young was Farrier and Cattle Doctor in 1851 as well as being a Butcher, he later styled himself as a Veterinary Surgeon. Of his three sons, Tom was a Joiner and Cartwright at Street-gate, Anthony became an artificial limb maker for Newcastle Infirmary, and William worked first as a Butcher and then as a Farrier at Streetgate up until the 1880's. Charles Young, (not one of the Lamesley Young's) worked as a Freestone Quarryman in the nearby quarries from 1855 to 1881.

Will Fenwick lived at 'Westview' and was a travelling Draper in 1910, though earlier in life he worked with his father at Marley Hill Colliery. He was born at Streetgate in 1872 the son of Luke Fenwick, who was Toll Collector at Fuger Bar in 1872. Will was one of the stalwarts at Sunniside Methodist Chapel, he was Lay Preacher, Superintendent, Class Leader, and Society Steward over a period of many years. In 1937 he was serving on the Management Committee of Whickham Cottage Memorial Hospital. Near 'Glencoe' there stood a pair of old stone cottages with pantile roofs. A cart track led up to their back yards from the Turnpike Road. They became known as Railway Cottages for being the abode of Railway Workers over the years, Tom Shanks a bankrider lived here in 1931. The last Railwaymen to live there were the Leybournes, brothers Jimmy, Billy, Robin and Joe, they all worked for the North Eastern Railway and their father Bob was Gatekeeper at Pennyfine Road at the time of the First World War. The cottages were vacated about 1938 and became ruinous. Other men who worked on this length of the Tanfield Line were Jimmy Bell, John Humphrey, Bill Askew, and George Place in the second half of the 19th century. Will Harrison, born 1904, and brought up first at Marley Hill Colliery then at Sunniside, began work on the N.E.R. Tanfield Branch in 1918. At the age of 19yrs (the official minimum age was 20) he became a Bank Rider, (also called a Wagon-Rider or a Set-Rider). Whilst travelling up and down the incline he had to be on the look out for anything amiss and see that everything was functioning well. If something serious did go wrong he had to jump off the leading wagon and pull the rapper (signal) wire which ran alongside of the line, to warn the Brakesman.

The Brakesman stood in a cabin at the top of the incline, a set of trucks full of coal at the top were coupled to one end of a thick hawser, whilst at the bottom a set of empty trucks were coupled to the other end. The hawser ran around a large wheel located under the sleepers at the top of the incline. The principle being, that the weight of the full trucks going down the incline pulled the empty ones up, this was known as gravity haulage. There was a danger of the trucks going too fast, they also had to stop in the appropriate place top and bottom of the incline. This was the brakesman's job, by means of a lever he applied pressure to the pivot wheel under the sleepers, this controlled the descending speed of the 'set' and stopped it gradually. The Bank Riders job was to sit on the front of the set and disconnect the hawser, a hazardous job, especially in icy conditions. He had to pull out a pin, and with a hammer strike the large washer holding the hawser coupling in place. This would free the hawser and allow the 'set' to run on and stop at the buffers end of the track, or more usually up against other trucks. The Set Rider had to quite literally jump clear of the moving trucks before they hit the buffers, in bad weather conditions he could have easily slipped and fell under the trucks. Some did fall and suffer all manner of injuries, but on the Tanfield Line, none fatal.

On going down the road to the 'Marquis' we pass the scene of the murder of Joseph Leybourne aged 47yrs of Streetgate, and a farm worker at Fen House Marley Hill. His body was found beside the road just below Swan's stackyard in the early hours of Tuesday morning August 29th 1865, his head having been battered by a stone. He had been to a dance in connection with the local Flower Show, held in a marquee next to the 'Marquis'. He left the dance just after midnight and went into the Pub for a drink in the tap room. Here he was involved in an incident which led to ill feeling and the Pub was cleared by the Landlord. Mr Leybourne left the Pub by himself about 0200, his body was discovered an hour later.

The Earl of Ravensworth, a Justice of the Peace, was 'hopping mad' that such a thing could happen in his 'patch' and he sacked his workmen who had attended the dance, he also stopped the Flower Show from being held again. Despite a thorough investigation led by Superintendent Squire, the murderer was never brought to justice. Mr Leybourne and his wife Catherine had come to Streetgate from Winlaton in 1848, they had two daughters and a son. Catherine stayed on at Streetgate as a widow.

The 'Marquis of Granby' (pictured above with Publicans Arthur & Doris Scorer c1938) is named after John Manners (1721-1770), a popular hero of the Seven Year War, 1756-1763, in which Britain was an ally of Frederick of Prussia against France, Austria, and Sweden. Set in the wall at the front of the house is a stone lintel from an earlier house marked 17R T H83 and is probably to Robert Thirlaway and his wife Hannah of Streetgate Lane, they both rest in Whickham Church-yard. Bill Dobson kept a Public House here in 1841 and in 1856 it was known as the 'Granby Arms'. In the 1860's Bill Laidman, known as Bill o' the Bank, was the publican. He also worked as the Brakesman for the railway at Sunniside. The pub was rebuilt about 1900 by Isaac Bewley of Dunston. Adjoining the Pub on the low side was a row of three houses (pictured above right) which were demolished in the late 1930's. Richard Shorten his wife Sarah and their children lived in one of the houses, they had travelled up from Norfolk to find work. Richard was a veteran of the Crimea War and when suffering from terrible frostbite, he had been nursed by Florence Nightingale. It was ironic that Richard died in 1900 of influenza at the age of 68 years, still employed at Marley Hill Cokeworks). There was also another row of four cottages, demolished about 1914 and a cottage stood between the two rows and to the rear. Altogether, they were known as Streetgate Lane or Low Streetgate. Here in the 1840's lived Bob Fenwick a Shoemaker, George Lamb a Grocer and his son-in-law John Talbot a House Carpenter, (he moved to West Pennyfine in 1867). Also living their was Francis Thynne a Schoolmaster and former Mariner, Bob Stott a Tailor who later became the Publican at the 'Rose Shamrock & Thistle'. Bob Patterson a Brickmaker lived there in 1851 but soon moved to Marley Hill Colliery to run the Firebrick works up until the 1880's.

Living in one of the cottages in 1851 were two poor women lately arrived from Ireland, Bridget Neves a straw bonnet maker and her mother Jane McAfrey widow of a linen weaver, I wonder how they got on? The houses came to be occupied in the main by railway workers and later by Cokeyard workers. Fuger probably derives its name from William de Fugers who belonged to a Breton family from Fougeres and did homage and service to the Bishop of Durham in 1269 for 68 acres near Whickham. In 1352 the Lady of Ravenshelm held a messuage called Fuger House and 60 acres by fealty and two arrows. Under Bishop Hatfield's survey of Durham the Earl of Northumberland held Fuger House with 100 acres by charter, Knights service and 10/- rent. In 1429 Roger Thornton, Merchant of Newcastle, held Fuger Field and 30 acres at Rydding, by grant of John, Duke of Bedford. In 1451 Roger Thornton the elder died, seized of the waste called Fuger Field containing 80 acres and held from the Bishop of Durham for 10/- rent. In 1471 Roger Thornton the younger held the same estate. His daughter Elizabeth inherited it and married into the Lumleys. In 1511 Richard, Lord Lumley died, seized of Fuger Field. At the beginning of the 17th century Richard Jackson, Yeoman of Whickman, acted as a sub contracting Overman at pits near Fuger Houses for Lord Lumley's tenant Farmers. About twenty Pitmen lived at Fuger Houses during the first quarter of the 17th century, working the top seam, as soon as this was worked out they moved on. In 1697, John Hedworth, Farmer, lived at Fuger House. George Baker, the son of Albany Baker who was Surveyor of the Tanfield wagonway for George Liddell of Ravensworth, died here in 1757 aged 37yrs. In 1727 the mines at Fuger Field came under the influence of the Grand Allies. In 1755 George Rawling took a boring 240yds southeast from Fuger House down to depth of 33 fathoms for the Earl of Scarborough. At three fathoms from the surface the Hutton seam, six and a half feet thick was met and described as loose coal with a band of metal through it. At 29 fathoms the Beaumont or Harvey seam was found to be two and a half feet thick.

In the latter half of the 19th century Fuger had the farm-house and about six cottages. William Dunn farmed 70 acres at Fuger from 1834 to 1865. He also farmed 42 acres at Shaftoes Southfield and 62 acres at South Washingwells and Graingers Field. In 1841 four hinds (two men and two women) lived in with his family at the farmhouse, but as his children (he had ten) got older, a lot of work was done by them. He had dairy cows and a lad from the farm delivered milk in the locality. Samuel Blenkinsop of Lobley Hill Farm was the tenant at Fuger in the late 1860's. About 1875 some of the farmland was taken over by Tom Hall of Marshall Lands and the rest by James Swan of Streetgate. The byers and gin-gan were demolished, leaving only the farm house standing. Two Masons moved into the house, Christopher Graham in 1871 and then Bill Rutledge in 1880. In front of the Farm was an orchard covering about an acre and with a small pond. On two sides the ground fell away steeply to Washingwell Dene and perhaps the siting was chosen partly for defensive reasons. The old houses at Coxclose, Gibside, and Hollinside, are similarly placed.

William Charlton and his wife Elizabeth ran a Market Garden at Fuger from the 1830's to 1865 and then by their daughter Ann up until 1887. John Baxter took over the garden up until his death in 1910.

On the other side of the bridge stood the Tollgate cottage (pictured above with Annie Stott) where a gate or bar was placed across the road until the toll was abolished in the mid 1870's. The trustees of the turnpike let the gates out yearly to the highest bidder. In 1864 Fuger was valued at œ176 while the Crookgate bar was œ256. Mary Sinclair was the keeper at Fuger in 1841, her father Tom Sinclair was a Grocer at Crookgate.

Below the Tollhouse was a cottage beside the railway occupied by railway workers, Bob Swinburne in the 1840's and after -wards by his son George. Edward Shotton lived here from 1880-1910, then James English moved in from Granby Terrace. He and his son Tom were Bankriders. When James died in 1924 Tom moved with his family to Swalwell to work on the railway at Derwenthaugh. Robin Leybourne, railway labourer, moved in after the English's left. The old Tollhouse was demolished in the late 1930's.

Two estate cottages stand on the end of Fuger Field by the path leading up to Hill Head. The one at the top end, nearest the wood, was the abode of one of the Under-Keepers or Game Watchers. Henry Layton was here in 1865 and Bob Milburn in 1891. In recent years the cottages have been extended and like most of the other lodges on the estate had originally only two rooms, separated by an entrance lobby. The lodges were built by estate workmen and the materials used were of good quality, but for living space they were rather penny pinching. Here was underlined the difference as regards to wealth between master and servant, the Lord in his palatial castle and the servant in his cottage. Watergate Lodge nestles up against the bankside and peeps out above the wall and gates. It was the least used of all the entrances to the estate and the drive went up to High Boggle-hole. At the bottom of Watergate bank, beside the bridge, was a boundary stone set in the wall. On one face was inscribed W.L.B. (Whickham Local Board) and on the other D.8 Clst (District of Chester-le-Street)? In 1993 a bus crashed into and demolished this part of the wall and the wall was re-built without the boundary stone. Upstream from the bridge, on the right hand side, was the tiny cottage of Watergate. Cuthbert Newton lived at Water Yate in 1719. In 1841 Mrs Catherine Hutchison lived with her daughter at Watergate. Catherine died here in 1866 aged 90yrs. By 1894 the place had been demolished, it had stood in a field (called the New Field in 1800 when it formed the western extremity of the Farnacres estate, owned by the Liddells), wedged inbetween the road and the wagonway embank-ment, and was buried by waste from Watergate pit. The heap hereabouts began smouldering in 1991, giving off noxious fumes (once a common occurence throughout the Durham coalfield) and after buying the land from British Coal, Gateshead Council, with the aid of a œ1.1 million government grant, began reclaiming the derelict land by first putting out the fire in 1993. As part of this reclamation the field between Fuger and the pit was opencasted in 1995 to remove the remaining pillars of the Hutton seam. The Watergate Colliery (pictured above) royalty stretched for 2 miles from the Black burn in Washingwell wood to Mitcheson's Gill in the south and being about a mile in width, it included Ravens-worth Park and castle. The top seams had been extensively wrought in the 17th and 18th centuries. A wagonway was laid from Ravensworth Park farm (High Stables) through Robins wood to meet up with the Team Colliery wagon-way at Tileshed wood. In 1620 Thomas Liddell worked coal pits in Horsemouth wood beside the Blackburn.

In 1901 Charles Perkins and Partners wanted to work the Park coal and permission to do so raised the question about how good the underlying foundations of the castle were. An exploratory shaft had been sunk in 1884 at the joint expense of the Earl of Ravensworth and Messrs Perkins in the work-shops yard of the castle. David Robson, the Viewer of Teams Colliery was in charge of the sinking. Priestman Collieries Ltd. took over the leases of Axwell Park, Bagnalls and Whickham Bank Collieries in 1902 and as part of their expansionist policy, sunk Watergate pit in 1923. Stephen Varty came from Billy Row Crook, to help sink the shafts, during which time he lodged at the Bridle Path Public House. Later he brought his family to live at the Watergate estate. Along with starting the Colliery Messrs Priestmans bought farmland in the area. In 1917 they bought 46 acres at Whickham Grange from Cuthbert and Alice Hunter, 47 acres at High Glebe Whickham, 192 acres at Marshall Lands, 33 acres at Washingwell Wood, 5 acres at Bucks Hill Plantation, the orchard at Fuger, and 58 acres at Greens Farm from Lord Ravensworth in 1924, 90 acres at Washingwells Farm from A.W. Reichwald and Alfred Graden in 1924, 113 acres at Ravensworth Park Farm and 100 acres at Banesley Lane from Harriet Gray in 1938, and 108 acres at Old Ravensworth from William Wilson in 1938. The Company built 146 Colliery houses at the Watergate estate Broomlane, to house their workmen, many of whom came from Chester Moor and Waldridge Fell where Priestmans had Collieries. The six Aged Miners Homes off Broom Lane and standing near the site of Southfield Farm, were built in memory of Peter Lee the Durham Miners leader, and opened on the 27th January 1940. Stones were laid by Major Jack Priestman M.C. on behalf of Priestman Collieries, Tom Ridpath Colliery Agent, A.L.Ford manager of Watergate pit, Jethro Longridge, Engineer, Doctor Edward Davison Smith, Henry Bolton on behalf of Blaydon Co-op, Tom Fawcett on behalf of Swalwell Co-op, John Sloan on behalf of Whickham Social Club, W.T.Stutton on behalf of the Blaydon branch of Northern Colliery Officials, H.L.Bell on behalf of Watergate Colliery Mechanics, J.Watson on behalf of Watergate Colliery Deputies, and J.Williams on behalf of Watergate Colliery Lodge Durham Miners Association. The homes were built at a cost of œ2,300, miners at the Colliery had contributed a penny a week to the scheme since the mine opened. Bill Kelly, Checkweighman and Secretary to the Miners Lodge, was presented with a gold watch for his contribution to the successful outcome of the sceme by Mr J.Hook, Chairman of the Committee. Priestman Collieries Ltd. donated the land and an ongoing allowance of six tons of coal per year to each of the tenants.

Mr William Whiteley, M.P. for Blaydon and Chairman of the Durham Aged Mine Workers Association presided over the meeting and presented the keys to the first tenants. A luncheon was laid on at Watergate Welfare Hall and later on a tea for guests and members of the scheme. The Colliery at this period employed 850 men and boys.

On Thursday afternoon July 3rd 1947 an explosion of gas killed Henry Morgan a coal hewer. It happened at the coal face in the North District, 3rd West, in the Stone Coal seam, about a mile from the shaft, 60 fathoms below ground. The Undermanager Mr H.W.Storey and some of the Officials decided at once to go inbye and see if they could help, instead of waiting, as was normal practice, for the Fire and Rescue Brigade. The outcome was that they were overcome by gas and got into difficulties. The rescue teams from Elswick, Houghton, and Crook duly arrived led by Superintendent F. Mills. They rescued the men but not before William Hopper, one of the Fore-Overmen, collapsed and died. Doctor Edward Smith, the Colliery Doctor, went below to give assistance while his brother Doctor Wilkie stayed at the First Aid Station on bank. Seven men were sent to Newcastle Infirmary for treatment, Deputy Overmen R.Meek, G.Armstrong, R.Walters, and S.G.Sinclair. Along with Fore Overman A.French, Bargain Man J.W.Thorpe, and H.Storey the Undermanager, they all recovered. Will Winter a Stoneman and Bob Birkett a Deputy were allowed home after treatment at the pit head. Henry Morgan aged 47yrs came from Hartlepool to work in Blaydon Burn pit and lived at Winlaton Mill where he was a founder member of Huntley Wells Social Club. He was Concert Chairman at the time of his death. William Anthony Hopper aged 48yrs was the grandson of Andrew Hopper of Baldwin Flatts Farm at Dunston. He served in the Royal Navy during the First World War, and served as a Special Constable during the 2nd World War. He was an all-round sportsman, playing in his younger days for Ashington F.C. when the Club was a member of League Division three (North), and then was associated with Whickham Park A.F.C. He served as a Governor for both Whickham Cottage Hospital and the R.V.I. at Newcastle. Washingwell Wood was bought by Gateshead M.B.Council in 1977 from the National Coal Board. In the mid 1960's conifers (mainly larch with some pine and spruce) were planted in the upper parts of the wood, but now the wood is being managed to favour native deciduous. It was known as the Bluebell Wood because the wood hyacinth grew in profusion in Spring, as it also did further down the valley in Beggar Wood. But this is not the case now, December 1967 the Council was considering whether to use part of the wood as an infill site for house -hold rubbish, instead, Beggar Wood was chosen for the site. Simon de Esh held from Bishop Bury (1333 - 1345) 26 acres of waste land beyond Whickham wood near to Priesthill, by homage and 10/- rent. Also Priesthill containing 30 acres of the manor of Ravenshelm, by the service of 2 arrows. It is uncertain where Priesthill exactly was. An old bridle road goes from Fuger to Marshall Lands and a few hundred yards along here an old carriage road now a footpath, forks right down to the burn. Near this fork is an old quarry and down by the burn there issues a steady and clear flow of water from a rock fissure. Even during the driest summers, when the burn further up has dried up, this spring continues to flow. A stone flagged bridge crossed the burn at the top end of the wood, and the road continued along to join Broom Lane at Bucks Hill Plantation. On May 13th 1856, Thomas Dodd of Whickham aged 22yrs was accidentally killed by the felling of a tree, which he and his father were cutting in Washingwell Wood. In the late 1950's the Newcastle and District Motor Club held motor cycle trials in the wood. On January 16th 1609 pardon was granted to Lionel Maddison for acquiring Marshall Lands and the Paddocks in Whickham from Richard Hinde. In the same year Lionel obtained a lease to work coal at Marshall Lands and the lease was renewed in 1624 for 15yrs. By 1632 there had been 13 pits sunk here and near Fuger Field, some being wrought out. On September 20th 1632 Nicholas Valentine was slain in the stone quarry at Marshall Lands.

Pictured above Ravensworth Castle Then and Now.

In the latter half of the 18th century George Rawling and his wife Margaret, daughter of Edward Liddell of Ravensworth, lived at Marshall Lands. Their son Thomas (1734-1809) married Elizabeth Maddison of St.James London, in 1775 at Whickham Church. In 1802 their daughter Ann Rawling of Marshall Lands, niece to Tom Maddison of Birtley, married Joseph Dixon, an Iron Merchant at Newcastle. Before the enclosure of Whickham Fell the farm only had 17 acres to the east and 13 acres of old enclosure towards Whaggs corner called Wheat Leas. The farmhouse itself lay on the boundary of part of the Fell. Sir Thomas Henry Liddell of Ravensworth owned the farm in 1798. George Maddison, who lived in a cottage small holding to the north of the farm, took over after the enclosure, then Joseph Hall (1791-1875) became the tenant farmer of 113 acres. His son Tom ran the farm with his sister Mary as Housekeeper up until 1897. John Johnson farmed Marshall Lands prior to the First World War and then John Barron up to 1932 when he moved to Trench Hall to become the Farm Steward. Joseph Tate then took on the farm which by this time was owned by Priestman Collieries Ltd. His son Leslie continued in 1939, and also ran Washingwell Farm. Leslie was one of the first farmers in the area to have a combine harvester. In 1987 Will Oates of Ouston Spring Farms Ltd. bought the 250 acres centred around Marshall Lands and grows oil seed rape and corn. Marshall Lands sits pleasantly by the Black Burn where the valley opens out between the woody confines of Gellesfield and Washingwell. The old farmhouse was renovated in 1992 but still retains a plain 17th century doorway at the front. There was a small orchard at the front where the ground falls away to the burn. About 1900 a new farmhouse was built and the old house became the farm labourers cottage.

To the south, on the opposite side of the burn, lay Hollen-bush which seems to have been annexed with Marshall Lands in the beginning of the 19th century, when Tom Rawlings was the tenant of both holdings. John Hall, son of Ralph Hall of Marley Hill, lived at Hollynbushe, otherwise known as Haydon Close, up to his death in 1574. He had six sons, the three eldest being Ralphe, George, and John. In Ralphe's will of 1581 he asked to be buried at Whickham near his father, also " To provide maintenance for his three youngest brothers, Jeffreye, Nicholas, and Robert, for kepinge them at schole till they were able to help themselves. To his brother George he gave two oxen, if he kept himself of good conversation, to his sister Jane, a velvet dublett, to cosen Raphe Skirtfield, his cros bowe, all his holyday rayment (i.e. his best clothes) to brother John ".

George Hall was outlawed in 1595 for the murder of Ralph Hedworth, Hollenbush was forfeited to the Bishop of Durham. About this time a coal pit was sunk on the estate and was still working in 1606. George's brother, John Hall and wife Margery were at Hollenbush in 1605, Richard Blenkinsopp was here in 1619.