Summer Happening on Little Dene Park


***Change of date – now Sunday 21 July from 1pm***

Friends of the Valley and High West Jesmond Residents’ Association are hosting a small event on Sunday 21 July 2019 on Little Dene Park (Moorfield) to celebrate the green environment that surrounds our community, High West Jesmond.

You may know that FOVALD, has adopted both the Valley & Little Dene Park and has also been managing the Little Dene as a nature resource for 19 years now.

Volunteers lending a hand

A lot of the maintenance work is carried out by the Tuesday gardening group, Lending a Hand (which is part of FOVALD), which also undertakes environmental tasks on many of the streets in our community, as well as the Little Moor.

Little Dene Park adopted

It is more than a year since Little Dene Park was adopted, so the motivation for the event is:

(i) to celebrate the Park’s 66’th birthday;

(ii) to try & raise some funds for one or two proposed improvements;

(iii) to let residents see the latest Streets for People proposals;

(iv) to provide an opportunity for a “get-together”.

Summer happening

There will be some cakes & soft drink tables, a tombola, a few games to try your hand at, some photos of the Valley & the area to look at and discuss, plus up-to-date info from the Residents Association about the Streets for People programme and other “big issues” on the horizon!

Last but not least, there will be a Ukulele Band playing some entertaining & soothing background music!

So please come along and join us for a chat and to listen to the music on Sunday 21 July 2019 from 1pm.

***The event will now take place on Sunday 21 July, rather than the previously advertised Saturday 20 July due to the weather forecast for Saturday***

We look forward to seeing you there!

Cath Snowden, Chair – FOVALD and Nick Moore, Chair – HWJRA

Parks and allotments trust on track for April handover

Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust is ‘on track’ to take over running of Newcastle upon Tyne’s parks and allotments in April 2019

The city council plans to transfer many parks and allotments to the new Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust. The new organisation will be responsible for developing and caring for future generations.

Read more about the future of Newcastle’s parks and allotments on the Newcastle City Council website.

Read Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust Chief Executive named.

Read Parks and green spaces make vital contribution to local communities

Valley and Little Dene not part of planned transfer

Not all green open spaces in Newcastle upon Tyne will transfer to the new Trust. 

Green open spaces that are NOT scheduled to transfer include the well-used community asset known as the Valley and Little Dene, High West Jesmond.

The Valley and Little Dene (along with Little Dene Park which is owned by the Freeman) form part of the urban wildlife corridor through the north of Newcastle and continue to be well used and highly valued by local residents.

Read about the work of the Friends of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park (FOVALD) in caring for these open spaces in High West Jesmond.

NAWG minutes report

The minutes of the 7 February 2019 meeting of the Newcastle Allotments Working Group noted that:

“The meeting commenced with a presentation by James Cross, the new CEO of the Parks and Allotments Trust, who was pleased to introduce himself to the group, and Tony Durcan, NCC [Newcastle City Council].

TD updated the meeting on the latest progress. The Trust was now fully constituted, the Board was up and running having had a meeting in January and the new CEO James Cross had taken up his post on 3rd December 2018.

Its Constitution now activated, March 2019 would see the Trading Company section of the Trust applying for charitable status.

Key issues of work still to be achieved, include the agreement that is currently  in place on the Duke of Northumberland’s land and a further meeting with the Freemen to discuss the ‘Wartime’ sites.

A Trust strategy meeting was being held on 21st March. NAWG [Newcastle Allotments Working Group] representatives would be invited. JC had begun visits to all allotments and asked for details of allotment waiting lists to assess the need throughout the City.

On track for 1 April 2019 handover

James Cross, the new Chief Executive of Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust

The Parks and Allotments Trust management was still on track for a 1st April handover.

Two NAWG representatives on the Community Representation Group were proposed: Paul Herbertson (west) and Donald Robinson (east) to be ratified during the normal business of this NAWG meeting. CRG findings would be reported to the Board each month. JC also confirmed NAWG as a constituted group which would continue to operate.

Budgets – there was a £2 million cost across parks and allotments per year. Any Council surplus has not been used elsewhere to date.  

Under the Trust, funds raised from rents would be reinvested into Parks and Allotments, with priority being given to allotments when/where necessary.

JC confirmed any local revenue raised on allotments e.g. open days, trading hut, would be retained by individual sites. JC also confirmed that better resourced Trust officers responsible for allotments would have a defined budget with continued monthly reporting. JC also confirmed that he had had conversations with all potential key funders already.”

The extract above from the minutes of the Newcastle Allotments Working Group (NAWG) 7 February 2019 meeting was issued by NAWG and included on the NAWG website. It has been included here for information and does not necessarily represent the views of High West Jesmond Residents’ Association. 

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.

Lending a hand path tidying along Lodore Road

The Lending a Hand group of volunteers have been busy tidying up the path along Lodore Road, High West Jesmond.

Here is a photograph taken by Chris Morgan who was visiting High West Jesmond at the time and spotted the work party busy with their work.

Chris commented on our Facebook page:

“What a team spirited group. Think they may have persuaded me to do another history walk first Sunday in June 2019. Will have to check diary to confirm in the New Year.”

That’s certainly something to look forward to – last year’s Walking the Bounds of High West Jesmond was a well attended and interesting event.

UPDATE: The Walking the Bounds 2019 will take place on Sunday 2 June 2019. Details will be posted to this website nearer the time.

FOVALD caring for our green spaces

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

They have adopted the Valley from the City Council and  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.

2017 FOVALD Annual Report

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Annual Report

2017 Committee Annual Report

Although 2017 was a dormant year in terms of organised events on the Valley, it did prove to be significant for two contrasting reasons.

Thank you Warwick

The first was, sadly, losing Warwick Ogden. From his family home he had overlooked the Valley since the early 1970’s and soon became the “guardian” of what was a rather neglected open space.

The Valley, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne – mid 1960’s

He witnessed and contributed to the renaissance of the Valley from being a sparsely surrounded field in the years following the Council’s 1960’s tipping contract, to the beautiful open space that it now is.

He was one of our founder members. So we owe a big thank you to Warwick for all his efforts over 45 years.

The Valley, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne in 2016

Lending a Hand

The second is that FOVALD members spread their wings during 2017.

As well as looking after the Valley surrounds and the Little Dene, a sub-group was formed, Lending a Hand, to do the landscape maintenance work in HWJ that the City Council has stopped doing, mainly on Moorfield, Little Moor and  Freeman’s Park (which we now know as Litle Dene Park)).

The group meets once a week and started in early March.

By December, over 1 km of footpaths had been edged; approx 140 barrow/bag loads of leaves collected; and lots of trees & shrubs pruned.

One of the aims is to recycle all compostable material.

FOVALD adopts further park

Freeman’s Park is Town Moor land and the quality of our work persuaded the City’s Freemen to agree to FOVALD adopting the park on a similar basis to the adoption agreement that we have with the City Council for the Valley.

This means that we have responsibility for looking after all of the open spaces that abut HWJ to the north and west, i.e. the Valley, Little Dene and Freeman Park.

All lie within the City’s defined “wildlife corridor”, so we have the opportunity to introduce changes that will not only benefit and enhance the landscape but also wildlife.

So a big thank you to all residents who have contributed.

Little Moor path – the start of work by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand group, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne
Little Moor path – nearly finished! Work undertaken by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand group, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne

The Landscape     

There was little change to report  regarding the Valley’s trees & shrubs.

The ash trees have not succumbed to “die-back” and even the old lilac on the north side, which predated the 1962 “levelling contract”, continued to bloom.

It was good to see “Joanna’s” cherry tree, on Lodore Road next to the garage, starting to make a significant contribution!

Two pear trees and another apple were planted close to an existing apple tree in the north-east corner, close to the blackberry patch – perhaps the start of a “community orchard”?

There are  2-3 trees in Little Dene that are overhanging Lodore Road that will probably need intervention during 2018.

More work was undertaken keeping weeds at bay and it is good to see that the hollies & hazels planted 5 years ago are gradually starting to form an understorey.

A lot of shrub pruning and tree “crown lifting” was carried out on Freeman’s Park, to improve visibility both within and alongside the space and to improve the structure of the plants.

A landscape action plan was produced for 2018 which received approval from the Freemen. This includes the further pruning of trees & shrubs bordering Little Dene flats, which will be the subject of consultation.

A disappointment was the loss of a substantial part of a beautiful “choisya” bush through vandalism. We are hopeful it can be nurtured back to prime condition.


During last winter, bird feeders were placed on the Valley close to the Little Dene.

They have attracted a variety of birds. The most notable seen on the Valley being a woodcock, a bullfinch and a lesser spotted woodpecker.

A recent bird survey in Jesmond Dene also recorded sightings of bullfinches and the lesser spotted woodpecker, plus many species that were recorded in the 2016 FOVALD survey.

This is good news in that it is evidence of the wildlife link between Jesmond Dene and the Valley & the Little Dene.

Grey squirrels continue to occupy the trees in our area.

However, it is also interesting to note that otters have recently been seen in the Dene beside Fisherman’s Lodge.

Several years ago, footprints were seen in the mud beside the culvert entrance in Little Dene and it was suspected, at that time, that the prints may have been an otter’s. Another possible wildlife  corridor link!

Use of the Valley and Freeman’s Park

Without doubt, the most popular use of the Valley in 2017 was dog walking and adult socialising!

People walk around the Valley at all times of the day, with early mornings and lunchtimes being times when people tend to congregate, chat and network.

It has been described as an “outdoor community centre”!

The dryer summer months saw the usual ball games, picnics and “congregations” – large numbers of young people meeting on the Valley on some summer evenings.

Freeman’s Park is different. It is a place to pass through rather than a destination.

However, it is an attractive space and the 4 seats available are frequently used by residents wishing to sit and relax before continuing their journey.

It may be useful to undertake a user count during 2018.

Freeman Park (now also known as Little Dene Park) after maintenance work carried out by FOVALD, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne
Joanna’s cherry tree, the Valley, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne

Committee of Friends of the Valley and Little Dene
February 2018

Read more: You can read more about the work of FOVALD and see a plan of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park on the FOVALD page.

1962 – The Valley and Little Dene, or Blackies Valley, Newcastle being filled in

Little Dene, aka Blackies Valley, or what was left of it before they finally filled it in, around 1962

A heritage post by Chris Morgan

This small stream flows east from high on the Newcastle Town Moor near Kenton Bar, and formed the boundary between the City and County of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gosforth, which was then in Northumberland. Ultimately it joins the Ouse Burn just beyond the foot of Matthew Bank where it is known as Craghall Dene.

It flowed below the Great North Road roughly where Moor Road now joins Moorfield, that point being known as Little Bridge. By the time the large house Little Dene was built on Lodore Road the stream was in a culvert, probably beside the south side of Moor Road. It emerged to the north-east side of the old house through an ornamental angelic water feature in the garden, then flowed at the north side of Lodore Road until the bottom of Newlands Road.

An open culvert (no gating of any kind to prevent entry) then took the stream to the bottom of Mathew Bank. Braver boys than I said they’d worked their way all the way through! The wooden structure at the base of this picture is immediately above that entry.

The Blyth and Tyne railway was built on an embankment across the dene, but that small culvert was extended when material from the clearance of the Forth goods depot was used to broaden the embankment, sufficiently for the building of houses on Ilford Road and Newlands Avenue – and possibly parts of Lodore road itself. The Craghall Dene side of the railway has also been filled at various dates almost up to Matthew Bank.

This picture was taken from the bottom of Newlands Avenue, looking towards Lodore Road and the bottom of Albemarle Avenue. By this time the trees, mostly willow, had been cleared off and the line of the new culvert had been excavated. I think the rubble subsequently used to fill this area came from demolished slum housing in Shieldfield, where tower blocks were built. This site is now a gently sloping grassy area.

Before this it had been a more natural dene, with willow trees, and some sloping allotments on the Gosforth northern side. The south side next to Lodore Road was steeper, comprising building rubble that must have been dumped to make the High West Jesmond site more level when Lodore Road was formed.

Note the line of wooden garages on Lodore Road. These could be hired, 2 or 3 storing small Ford vans for the delivery of milk by Jesmond Farm Dairies on Newlands Avenue (where the convenience store is now). Others were used by local residents. In 1962 very few cars were kept overnight on the roads.

North Jesmond Garge on Lodore Road, just to the left of this picture, was then Jones Garage with 3 petrol pumps – hand operated. At night it also stored residents cars. In 1968 I paid 10/- a week to keep my 1952 Morris Minor there.

Incidentally, North Jesmond originally referred to the part further to the east of the railway, towards Matthew Bank – the garage should really be called High West Jesmond Garage!