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.

Creating a Wildflower Meadow on the Valley

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Park invite you to help with work for the wildflower meadow.

Like to help create a wildflower meadow?

Well come along and join us in sowing wild flower seeds along the banks of the Valley on Sunday 6 May 2018.

All welcome – families, children, students – anyone interested in nature.

Equipment provided but strong shoes will be required.

Meet at 10am on the Valley, Lodore Road.

The Friends of the Valley and Little Dene (FOVALD) was established to manage, maintain and protect the open spaces in High West Jesmond known as The Valley and Little Dene.

Read more about Friends of the Valley and Little Dene (FOVALD).

A new website for High West Jesmond

Welcome to High West Jesmond!

Today we are launching our new High West Jesmond website, which aims to bring together information on several different community groups plus local information and news for residents living in High West Jesmond and for those with a connection to High West Jesmond.

A thriving urban community

Many of you will already know that High West Jesmond is a thriving urban community in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne.  We are well situated between Jesmond and Gosforth – and between the Town Moor and Jesmond Dene.

Our great situation means that our residents engage easily with the wider city and its wonderful hinterland.

Community groups

You may have noticed on our home page that we have featured on 4 aspects of High West Jesmond and this website contains some information on the following groups:

High West Jesmond Residents’ Association (HWJRA)

HWJRA was established to support the residents of the local area: to promote the benefit of the inhabitants of High West Jesmond by working to maintain and improve the quality of life, preserve the character of the area and ensure that development does not adversely affect the local environment; and to assist residents in exercising their rights as members of the community including empowering them in dealing with statutory and other relevant authorities.

Blue House Roundabout

We represented High West Jesmond residents in their opposition to the original plans to build a ‘motorway style’ Blue House Roundabout on the green land of the Town Moor in 2016 and we have been actively representing residents views as a core member of the Blue House Roundabout Working Group since this was established in autumn 2016.

Communal bins

We have also been representing residents views on the proposal to introduce communal bins into High West Jesmond.  It is fair to say that this proposal has not been popular – in fact 95% of High West Jesmond residents voted AGAINST communal bins in a recent poll.

Streets for People

We are also involved with work that the council has initiated for streets for people as Jesmond is one of three areas of Newcastle where this project is to operate.

We aim to continue to represent and support our community.

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene (FOVALD)

FOVALD was established to manage, maintain and protect the open spaces in High West Jesmond known as The Valley and Little Dene.

FOVALD has a vision for a local park that provides opportunities for local residents, including children, families, young and older people, to play, relax and socialise and also where the surrounding vegetation, including trees, shrubs and plants, and the stream, are managed and maintained to not only provide an attractive setting but also to encourage nature conservation and wildlife.

Lending a Hand to maintain our green spaces

In addition members of our community have been Lending a Hand to maintain the green spaces in High West Jesmond – a group of volunteers now meet every week and have made a real difference to the quality of live in our community. FOVALD oversees this work and we are grateful to the volunteers for their time and hard work.  You can read more about the work of Lending a Hand on this website.


High West Jesmond has three seperate allotment sites at:

  • Little Moor Allotments
  • Triangle Allotments
  • High West Jesmond Allotments

Our allotments are an inegral part of our community and we aim to add further information on them in the coming weeks.


If you operate a business in or from High West Jesmond and you are interested in being featured on our businesses page then please get in touch with us.

Whether you operate from one of the retail outlets across High West Jesmond or your business is run from your High West Jesmond home this is your opportunity to reach your local community and set out the products or services that your provide.


We will update information on our standing pages from time to time, but the best place to find out the latest information is via our News pages.


We have included a number of posts on this website regarding the heritage of High West Jesmond, including memories and photographs from some of our current and former residents.

You can see these items by selecting Heritage from the Categories side bar on this webpage.

If you have any old photographs and memories relating to High West Jesmond we would love to heard from you! Please contact us via the Contact page.

New digital communications

As part of the work to create this website we have reloaded a good number of ‘back stories’ – these are things that did happen and communications and news that was circulated around our community over the past year. You can see these on our News pages.

In the past as we did not have a website to anchor our content on at the time our earlier communications were by:

  • hard copy newsletters/leaflets through the door;
  • by email for those who had signed up to distribution lists; and
  • via the community noticeboard outside the shops on Newlands Road.

This website now provides a further digital platform to share information with High West Jesmond residents and those with a connection to our community.

In addition you can follow us on our social media accounts.

Our social media accounts


In addition High West Jesmond Residents’ Association (HWJRA) has a Facebook group – if you are a High West Jesmond resident you are welcome to join us at the following link –


You can also follow us on Twitter – if you are a Twitter user then our handle is @highwestjesmond and you can read our tweets on a computer at the following link –


We are on Instagram too – and we would love you to share your photographs of High West Jesmond with us!  if you are an Instagram user then our handle is @highwestjesmond and you can read our tweets on a computer at the following link –

Thanks for visting our website

Thank you for visiting our website. We hope that you  found it useful finding out more about our High West Jesmond community in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne.


2016 FOVALD Annual Report

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Annual Report

2016 Committee Annual Report

Compared to 2015, which we celebrated as the centenary of the first use of the Valley by residents of High West Jesmond, we decided that 2016 should be a quieter year.

Council rejects our application for Village Green status

Our only event in the summer attracted more rain clouds than customers and in October we received an official letter from Newcastle City Council (who itself was the only objector against our application) informing us that following review by Newcastle City Council our application for Village Green status had been rejected – 2 years and 4 months after it was submitted!

Despite all the hard work of the High West Jesmond community we decided not to appeal.

The Landscape

Despite this, the Valley bloomed as usual.

Snowdrops – looking towards Lodore Road, High West Jesmond

Loads of snowdrops (2017 versions out now!), followed by all the daffodils in the spring and the wildflowers later in the summer.

The “field maples” continue to grow and extend the colour show every autumn; no obvious signs of “ash die-back” have been spotted; fruit trees, and a couple of “lime tree whips”, have been introduced along the northern edge (thanks to Frank S and Jon R).

In the Little Dene, the holly & hawthorn understory is growing very slowly but the fallen ash trees help to provide a protective environment for insects and small mammals.

In the summer months the Dene is almost impenetrable for us humans!


Our 4th bird survey was carried out on 9 May 2016 – and proved to be the most productive. 

A total of 22 separate species were recorded, including goldfinch, goldcrest, dunnock, blackcap, chiffchaff, coal tit, great tit and blue tit to name but a few!

The report suggested ways to further improve the Little Dene and the Valley surrounds for the bird population. Minimising disturbance is always beneficial.

Several bird boxes have been placed on trees on the edge of the Little Dene and there are 1/2 bird feeders  close to the Valley (thanks to Paul W for making them and Frank S for placing them!).  

Apart from finding a dead male fox inside a hollow tree trunk early in 2016, we had no reports of foxes having been seen on the Valley or in the Dene.

However, grey squirrels remain present, no doubt attracted by the abundance of hazel nuts! The other sad note to report was the finding of a deceased  hedgehog in the middle of the Valley. Let’s hope that some are still surviving in the Valley surrounds and gardens.

Works on the Valley

The “hollow” in the centre of the Valley showed signs of further deepening last summer. After fencing it off for a couple of months, the Council deemed it safe and filled it with topsoil – so, it’s a “hollow” no more!

Maintenance work on the culvert underneath the Valley also meant that a chunk of the Valley next to Newlands Road was used as a site compound  for several weeks in October. The work was successfully completed.  

Use of the Valley

The only event that was promoted, the Hog Roast, was sadly a wash-out. However, those that did attend received good value for money –“ plenty of pork in the butty”!

A big thank you to the usual band of helpers, plus the individuals and organisations that supplied equipment.

The Valley appears to be attracting more dog walkers – either because more people have dogs or because it’s just a popular venue for dog walking or perhaps both! In terms of community connections that’s probably a good thing, but, on the other hand, dogs and wildlife are not the best partners.

The honesty plants (lunnaria annua) that emerged after the daffodils along Newlands Road. A sprinkling from Mother Nature or a resident’s packet of seeds?

The Valley remains reasonably well used by students, young people and children during the warmer months. It would probably be helpful to quantify usage by carrying out a usage survey in 2017.  

The Valley remains a much used and valued community open green space that we all agree must remain available for use of the community.

Committee of Friends of the Valley and Little Dene
December 2016

2015 FOVALD Annual Report

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Annual Report

2015 Committee Annual Report

Community events in 2015

1915-2015 Celebrations of centenary of residents use of The Valley – High West Jesmond Newcastle

2015 was celebrated as our “Centenary Year” – marking 100 years continuous use of the Valley by residents of High West Jesmond!

The main event, the Centenary Festival in early June, was not blessed with the best weather.

Our pitching of tents and gazebos invariably encourages the usual rain clouds to pay us a visit! However, a good crowd attended, the stalls sold out, our “Town Crier” was in good voice and lots of new residents took an interest in the history of the Valley and signed up as supporters.

A bonus was that in the run-up to the festival we found former resident Bev Bagnall, whose family lived on Lodore Road in the 1950’s & 60’s. His family photos gave us a glimpse of what the original Valley looked like before the City Council filled it in 1962.

A big “thank you” to all who helped make it a successful day, including the promotions company NE1 for 3 excellent gazebos, to our local café “Deliciously Decadent” for a lovely cake, to Chris & his Dad at our “Simply Local” shop for a bottle of whisky for the tombola, Andy at North Jesmond Garage for the energy supply and to St George’s Church and St Hilda’s Church for the tables and chairs.

The festival was complemented by a Family Picnic arranged in August by David & Sarah Dargue. The weather was much kinder and, as can be seen below, between 15-20 families enjoyed the afternoon and early evening.

Thanks to David, Sarah and everyone who contributed. It’s hoped that the picnic will become a regular event.

Preceding both of these events was the Easter Egg Hunt – adults(!) as well as children searching for goodies among the undergrowth and nooks & crannies. Fun was had by all!

Environment and Wildlife

Hedgehogs were spotted on the Valley in 2015, hopefully a spin-off from the wildlife shelters that we’ve created. Hedgehogs are becoming endangered, so if you spot one please let us know!

The vegetation in the Little Dene is now very dense in places, a consequence of falling trees, which is perhaps one of the reasons why so many foxes have been sighted during the year.

The spring flowers and wildflowers continue to please – not just us, but also the insect population! Lots of bees & butterflies seen and heard over the summer. A target for 2016 will be to identify the types of butterflies, as well as carrying out bird and bat surveys.

In terms of the arboriculture: the two chestnut trees next to Newlands Road were quite spectacular last spring; the hazel trees next to the culvert are thriving & provide an excellent food source for the squirrels and field mice; the rhododendrons in the NE corner of the Valley are now making a significant contribution.

Village Green Application

Our application, which was submitted in June 2014, has still not been finally resolved by the City Council.

The only objection to our application was from the City Council itself, as “landlord”. In dealing with the objection and our comments, the Council sought advice from two barristers.

The legal advice that they received indicated that we may not have satisfied one of the criteria in the 2006 Commons Act. We do not intend to employ a barrister to contest this. Therefore, we continue to wait to hear from the City Council.

Gone but not forgotten

Several of our members & supporters passed on during 2015:

Charles Hall, Rectory Road. Aged 92, Charles was one of our founding members.

Chris Craig, Lodore Road. Aged 63, Chris was a regular at our events.

Sybil Durno, Newlands Road. Aged 96, Sybil had used the Valley since 1935 and gave an excellent statement in support of our Village Green application.

Barry Parmley, Lodore Road. Barry was a long-time supporter & a regular at events.

John Parker, Rectory Rd. Aged 85, John was also a long time supporter and a volunteer at most of our events.

All will be sorely missed. However, we are sure that they would appreciate the number of young families and children using the Valley in 2015.

Committee of Friends of the Valley and Little Dene
December 2014

2014 FOVALD Annual Report

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Annual Report

2014 Committee Annual Report

This has been our most difficult year so far!

The application for Village Green status under the Commons Act 2006 proved to be a much more complex project than first envisaged.

However, we soldiered on and, with great support from many residents and from the High West Jesmond Residents Association, we managed to submit the application on 10th June. It was verified in early July.

Since then we have had virtually no communication, although, as most residents will have seen, notices were placed on the Valley in early November informing people of our application and requesting people who wish to object to do so before 31st December.

Emails to the City’s contact solicitor, asking about the process for dealing with the application in the new year have failed to attract a response (at time of going to print!). All a bit frustrating after the community effort involved.

Whilst High West Jesmond residents have accessed the Valley for a long time, for the land to be registered as a Village Green a range of criteria have to be met.

In particular, it has to be shown that the land was not meant to be provided for public use. In that case, public use would become “as of right”. On the other hand, if the land was provided for public use, then such use is “by right”.

For a Village Green to be registered, 20 years “as of right” use has to be proved.

Of course, High West Jesmond residents have been using the Valley from around 1915.

Until the 1950’s it was in private ownership and during that period “as of right” use would have become established. However, for the purposes of current legislation that is too long ago!

The land was bought by Newcastle and Gosforth Councils in the 1950’s, mainly as a site for depositing spoil from housing clearance.

The tipping took place in 1962 and the material was covered with a thin layer of top soil. It was subsequently managed as “general purpose” land not as public open space.

Yet, despite this, use by local residents continued. Our case is that between 1975 and 1995 the residents of High West Jesmond used the Valley “as of right”. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that grass cutting became regular, the surrounds were improved and waste-bins provided.

This is the core of our case. We hope to learn how the Council is to process our application in the early months of 2015!

The time taken up by the application, meant that our planned habitat and wildlife surveys did not take place!

Annual Tidy Up – Maintenance Days: January 2014 and 23 November 2014

The annual maintenance day is getting earlier each year. Because of the milder winters the daffs, snowdrops, crocuses and bluebells tend to be breaking through well before Christmas.

To ensure that we don’t damage the emerging bulbs, the Tidy Up day was held in early Jan last winter and late Nov this winter! Thanks to all who helped.

The late Nov session meant that there was still time to plant a few more bulbs and to adjust the location of a tree donated by Dave & Frank Snowden. Special thanks to Ann Potts and Cath Snowden who provided hot broth and home baked bread for the “workers”.

Wildflower Day – Sunday 27 April 2014

The seeds were sown a bit earlier than last year. Despite the inclement weather, a collection of “hardy residents” scattered seeds over a slightly larger area of the bank-side than in 2013.

Unfortunately, the first batch of seeds did not take. The area was successfully reseeded in late May/early June. By all accounts, the display in August, Sept and part of October was worth the wait!

Use of the Valley 2014

Another year without a large-scale formal community fun event! However, the Valley remains well used – for the occasional parties, BBQ’s or just as a place for children & young people to meet up & relax.

The dog owners and dog walking fraternity seems to be increasing in numbers every year! That creates a lot of positive social connections. However, we do need to be vigilant to ensure that waste is removed and that the scale of use by dogs does not inhibit use of the Valley by families, children and young people.

The Natural Landscape 2014

Not too much change this year. The ash trees are still with us! Die-back has not materialised yet.

However, the gales did some damage in the Little Dene. Part of a large willow fell across the culvert entrance and had to be removed and a very large ash fell across the Little Dene, threatening traffic on Lodore Road.

This was dealt with by the Council but their action was limited to eliminating any threat to the highway. The safety of the trunk spanning the Little Dene needs to be assessed this winter.

Wildlife 2014

You’ve got to be lucky to spot wild mammals on the Valley or in the Little Dene!

However, grey squirrels keep popping up here and there and foxes and wood mice have been seen. No hedgehogs have been spotted for quite a while, although we have recently used the tree prunings to construct some “shelters” that they could nestle into!

Lots of wren, thrush and blackbird nests, plus the sparrow hawks still have their home in the area and woodpeckers can occasionally be heard in the Little Dene.

2015 is probably time for another bird survey (last survey in 2010). Plus, there are bats on the Valley & in the Dene. This year might be a good time to carry out a bat survey.

The wildflower display attracted quite an array of butterflies – meadow browns; red admirals; peacocks; large whites.

Plus, a “small blue” was spotted – a variety believed to be migrating up from the south east as our climate is becoming less harsh.

Priorities for 2015

Much will depend on what happens with our Village Green application. If an inquiry is held, it will mean quite a lot of preparation work in the next few months.

Of course, it can be argued that 2015 is the Valley’s “centenary year” – an excuse for a celebration, perhaps in early summer! As the VG application drags-on, we do have the option of submitting the Valley as a “Community Asset”! It certainly is such an asset.

Committee of Friends of the Valley and Little Dene
December 2014