FOVALD appreciation of Susan Lydia Challoner

Plaque commissioned by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand group to show appreciation to former resident who donated the ‘gap in the wall’

The Friends of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park’s (FOVALD) Lending a Hand Group has recently commissioned a new plaque to tell the story of the ‘hole in the wall’ at Little Dene Park.

On Friday 8 February Catherine McKinnell MP was invited to unveil the plaque commemorating the gift by Susan Lydia Challoner of the ‘gap in the wall’ that gives us all a short cut on to Moor Road South.

The plaque has been commissioned by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand Group that now looks after the Little Dene Park in addition to the Valley and Little Dene.

Members of FOVALD, the Lending a Hand Group and local High West Jesmond residents attended the ceremony to learn more about the generosity of Susan Lydia Challoner and the history of this part of High West Jesmond.

Who was Susan Lydia Challoner?

The plaque commemorates a lady called Susan Lydia Challoner who lived in Moor Road South between 1936 and 1953.

The park, which we now know as Little Dene Park, was constructed by the Newcastle City Council in 1952-53.

Mrs Challoner, who died in that year, bequeathed the money to pay for the entrance from Moor Road South.

The ‘hole in the wall’ has become a very well used route for residents in Gosforth and High West Jesmond.

The original plaque commemorating Mrs Challoners gift disappeared around 1990.

As part of FOVALD’s environmental improvement plan for the Little Dene Park they decided to reinstate the plaque.

FOVALD’s Lending a Hand Group tapped into resident’s memories to find the wording that best reflected the original and they commissioned the new plaque from Thorpes of Gosforth.

FOVALD caring for our green spaces

FOVALD (Friends of the Valley, the Little Dene and Little Dene Park) a small voluntary organisation based in High West Jesmond.

They have adopted the Valley from the City Council and the Little Dene Park from the City’s Freemen (it is part of the Town Moor).

FOVALD also look after the original Little Dene as a nature resource.

On Tuesday mornings, FOVALD organise’s a group called Lending a Hand that does the maintenance & improvement work on the green spaces in this part of High West Jesmond, as well as keeping all the other verges and paths in the area tidy.

Many thanks to FOVALD and to the Lending a Hand group for their ongoing work to enhance our community green spaces.

Chris Morgan also writes to share some history

When the High West Jesmond estate was first laid out Moorfield stopped at the now triangular junction with Lodore Road.

The main way into HWJ from the Great North Road was by the path that cut across the Little Moor.

However there must also have been a path leading from that corner to the bottom of Moor Road where the Little Bridge still crossed the Craghall Burn. My mother remembered playing in the stream at that point.

It must have been very soon after WW1 that Moorfield was extended through to the Great North Road and the stream went into a culvert to emerge in the grounds of the old house, Little Dene.

Boundary of Newcastle

At this time the stream formed the boundary between the City and County of Newcastle upon Tyne and the County of Northumberland. On the surface the stone wall was the boundary.

The Little Moor is part of the Town Moor owned by the Freemen, but this part of the Little Moor was now isolated.

Little Park

In 1952 the Freemen released the area north of Moorfield to form a Coronation Park (there must have been thousands of others across the nation, it was a time of great euphoria and celebration), although it wasn’t known as such. We all called it the Little Park.

The flower beds created were almost totally of clay and little grew for decades! I believe they may still be a challenge.

When the park was laid out there was a path extending around the perimeter with a dead end spur ending beside the stone wall. If memory serves correctly my friend Tony Devine’s bike/trike/scooter ran away down the gradient and he crashed into the wall, badly breaking his arm.

Hole in the wall

A clamour grew to have the wall opened up to allow free passage onto Moor Road South. It may not have happened for 2 or 3 years after 1953.

A simple plaque was positioned and the name Challoner was on it. There may have been another name as well.

Twice a day nuns from the convent just up Moor Road walked through the gap to and from La Sagesse school at the top of Matthew Bank.

Railings in High West Jesmond

Have you ever thought about the railings around the sreeets of High West Jesmond?

A heritage post by Chris Morgan

Recently the subject of the original iron railings came up.

A few samples have survived, almost all on corners, which leaves one to suspect this was policy.

I’d previously spotted sections that could have been deep in a privet hedge, but most of these samples pictured here couldn’t have been hidden in a hedge.

Several houses have added their own replacements and one near the bottom of Treherne Road gets very close to the original.

How many more sections have survived?

Walk the bounds – a tour of High West Jesmond

Find out more about the fascinating history of High West Jesmond and join us for a guided walk with Chris Morgan on Sunday 3 June 2018.

Find out more on our Walk the Bounds page.

Front garden in Kingswood Avenue

A heritage post by Chris Morgan

Not too many years ago my wife’s parents received a spontaneous award for their garden in Albemarle – don’t know who used to judge it.

This is an old fading picture of the front garden in Kingswood Avenue with my father proudly standing beside his modest effort.

He was a national Britain in Bloom judge getting as far as Plymouth one year.

Walk the bounds – a tour of High West Jesmond

Find out more about the fascinating history of High West Jesmond and join us for a guided walk with Chris Morgan on Sunday 3 June 2018.

Find out more on our Walk the Bounds page.

Walk the bounds – a tour of High West Jesmond

Join us for a fascinating tour of High West Jesmond and learn more about the history of our community

We are delighted to invite you to a walking tour of ‘the bounds’ of High West Jesmond led by Chris Morgan who has already kindly shared some of his photographs of High West Jesmond’s past that we have featured on this webesite.

Date: Sunday 3 June 2018

Time: 10.30am

Meeting place: outside Delicious Decadence, Newlands Road, NE2 3NT

The tour will take approximately 2 hours and will explain the last 200 years of this special area on the border of Jesmond and Gosforth.

It will be illustrated with many old photographs and tales from Chris Morgan’s personal memory and those of his mother who played here before many of the houses were built.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday 3 June.

Download a copy of the Walking the Bounds of High West Jesmond event poster here

1967 – A back lane in High West Jesmond

Work in progress, a back lane in High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1967

A heritage posting from Chris Morgan

Cones had still to be discovered. Red oil lamps were almost as common.

At this time many houses still had coal fires and most had two trap doors penetrating the brickwork into the lane. One was a small wooden door, higher than those shown here.

The coal men would unload hundredweight (about 50 kilos) bags of coal through the doors into the coal shed behind. The coal men carried the bags on their backs with ease.

By the time of this picture most of the trap doors had been bricked up and the coalmen would walk into the yard before tipping the sacks into the shed.

Nothing would be delivered on a Monday as that was washing day with all the family washing hung on lines criss-crossing the lanes.

The two openings showing here were large metal bins that tilted outwards. They were an innovation from the time the houses were built in the 1905-10 period and were designed to empty into a refuse cart in the lane. I never saw them used like that in my time, from 40 years later.

Originally the waste was mostly ash from the coal fires. Shopping came wrapped in paper bags or cardboard that went on the fire. There’d be a few tins, but most bottles had a returnable deposit paid at the shop that sold them.

Then we had dustbins that made good big wickets when we played back lane cricket – over the wall is 6 and out!

Last time I looked down the lanes I noted there were still a very few of these little doors that hadn’t been bricked up.

1964 – Paviers at work, Kingswood Avenue, Newcastle


It’s the little details you forget!

Workmen with cloth caps, no high visibility jackets and no machinery to help lift heavy paving slabs. Compo style turned down wellies.

A heritage posting from Chris Morgan

Those wires leading up the walls – radio aerials. Telephone wires were at the back of these properties. Many had overhead wires for Redifusion, a forerunner of today’s cable services.

The polished brass door bell on the house to the right. And all those milk bottles. In those days there were 3 separate milk delivery companies vying for business in this street – Co-op Creameries, Jesmond Farm Dairies and Peter Knox.

Early mornings were quite noisy with all those deliveries of clinking bottles. (Newspapers were delivered from 2 different newsagents and virtually every house had a paper each morning, and most an evening paper as well.)

The leaded windows – and that yellow front door that was quite prominent amongst the mostly green doors of the time.

Not only were the doors usually green but so were the window frames and the door surrounds, as was the house on the left.

The heavy front doors usually left open all day, with an inner porch door that probably wasn’t locked either!

Although all the terraces in Newcastle looked much the same, in truth they weren’t.

Built to a basic standard laid down by the original landowners, these properties in High West Jesmond were built in twos, effectively as a line of linked semis.

The house to the left has a pitched red tiled roof over the bay window, the next has a flat, leaded, roof. The deeds stipulated the type of bricks, stone, and slate to be used on the roof. They even said the mortar had to be black.

The repointing round the yellow door way shows that by the 1960’s such conditions were being overlooked.