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Local Histories - F


There is no recorded evidence for early human activity at, or in the immediate vicinity of Fawdon, although this is likely to be the result of lack of fieldwork in the area, rather than the absence of potential. The first reference to Fawdon by name is from 1242, showing that Fawdon village (HER 1352) was well-established in the medieval period as a member of the barony of Whalton. There were four taxpayers there in 1312. Sometime before 1346, Fawdon was acquired by William of Heselrig, and remained in that family until 1763, following which it was bought by Matthew Bell of Woolsington. Some impression of the original form of the medieval and post-medieval settlement can be gained by examining historic maps, including one of 1730 show an irregular cluster of buildings around the bend in Fawdon lane, the road from Newcastle towards Brunton Lane. The settlement cluster probably formed just two farms, or steadings, one on each side of the road, one of which, Red House Farm, is an 18th century building perhaps with earlier sections. The farms, plus Fawdon House, made up the village in the mid 19th century. From the beginning of the 19th century, Fawdon became associated with coal mining. Fawdon Colliery opened in 1810 along with Fawdon Old Pit (HER4011). Wagonways served for the transportation of coal, including Fawdon Wagonway (HER 1078) which connected with the Seaton Burn Wagonway at Wideopen. Fawdon Colliery ceased production in the late 19th century.      

Felling (including Friar's Goose)     

The earliest recorded evidence for human activity at Felling is a neolithic or bronze age perforated stone axe hammer (HER 698), found in 1937 on the Nest House Estate. Felling manor (HER 714) was created in the 13th century, carved out of Heworth waste by the prior and convent of Durham, and given to Walter de Selby. The manor lay between the Mereburn (the boundary with Gateshead on the west) and the Blakburn (the boundary with Heworth on the east) which in the 19th century ran through the modern village of Felling. By 1605 the manor was in the hands of Robert Brandling. Felling Hall, the presumed seat of the manor, was suffering from mining subsidence in 1820 has since been demolished. The modern settlement of Felling appears to have been born out of the industrialisation of the area in the 18th and 19th centuries, when brickworks (HER 3803 and 3805), quarries (HER 3545), ironworks (HER 3804), chemical and lime-works (HER 3821) were all in production. Coal mining and transport, upon which all these industries depended, was the main catalyst for the industrial development of the area. The coal trade developed at an early date: The Felling Way I to Felling Drops (HER 3540) may date to the 1670s. Subsequently, from the early 17th century to later 18th centuries, the staithes at Felling were linked to several mines at High Felling, Low Felling and Carr Hill, for which purposes a number of wagonways were built (e.g. HER 5940 and 5941). One of the last was Felling Wagonway, laid on the line of part of the old Felling Way was opened in 1810 by the Blackett’s to serve Felling Colliery (HER 3801). Tyne Main Staiths (HER 3534) at the end of the Friar’s Goose Wagonway (HER 3533), shipped coal from the Tyne Main Colleries (HER 3532 and 3538), via the Tyne Main Wagonway. Another product of the coal trade was Friar’s Goose Pumping Station (HER 1012), in operation between 1746-1763 in an attempt to drain the Tyne Coal Basin. One of the most important factories in Felling was the Friar’s Goose Chemical Works (HER 3537), opened in 1827 by Anthony Clapham, a soap manufacturer. In 1833 the 263 feet high Clapham Chimney was built, at the time was the tallest chimney on Tyneside. After the chemical works went out of use in 1932 the 2 million ton spoil heap (HER 5591) was utilised for agricultural purposes, and the recovered land became East Gateshead Riverside Park in 1966. Felling was also deeply involved in the Tyneside shipbuilding industry. Mitchison’s Ship Repair Yard (HER 5020) replaced Fair’s boat yard in 1919, and closed in 1964. Industrialisation led to the development of workers’ housing, transport systems, including a railway line (HER 2625 – now part of the TandW Metro system) and station (HER 1013), opened in 1842, and other public buildings and amenities, such as Felling church and a Park (HER 5253), opened in 1910.

Fenham and Spital Tongues    

There is no recorded evidence for early human activity at, or in the immediate vicinity of Fenham prior to the construction of the Roman Wall (HER 206), although this is likely to be the result of lack of fieldwork opportunity in the area, rather than the absence of potential. It is known that Fenham Manor or Grange (HER 1350), of the manor of Elswick, was passed to the Order Knights Templars in 1185. However, the origins of the village and location of putative medieval buildings are unknown. Coal mining already had a long history in the area (see HER 4831) – indeed, it was recorded during the 14th and 15th centuries that coalmines were already long-established – before the period of greatest exploitation between the 18th-early 20th centuries. Coal was worked in the 19th century from pits such as Adam’s Main Pit (HER 4068) and North Elswick Pit (HER 4076), although these had closed by the end of the century. In nearby Spittle Tongues, coal was mined from the Spittle Tongues Colliery (HER 4090) and transported via the Victoria Tunnel (HER 4091) to the River Tyne at Byker. Other industries included the Arthur’s Hill brewery (HER 1801), the Spital Tongues ropery (HER 4089) and a furniture factory (HER 4318). The industrialisation of the area led to its development as a residential district for workers, managers and owners – the latter represented by residences such as Wingrove House, North Elswick Hall and Fenham Hall, with its substantial grounds, ice house, laundry (HER 4309) and boat house. today only its gate piers survive on Fenham Hall Drive. The grand residences gradually gave way to housing developments which included public buildings and facilities such as a workhouse (HER 6342), churches (e.g. HER 6304 and 6345) and schools. Some of these, including the library and swimming baths are recognised as important buildings and have been given protected status as Listed Buildings. The various areas of common and waste around Fenham and Spital Tongues, including Nun’s Moor and Hunter’s Moor (see HER 1356) formerly used for mining, farming and grazing, were gradually turned over to recreational use in the 19th century. The Nuns Moor, now an indistinguishable part of the Town Moor, played host to race meetings from the 18th century until 1881 (HER 4022), when racing moved to its present location in Gosforth Park. Modern sites of importance to the local cultural heritage include military sites such as Fenham Barracks (HER 4093), Second World War pillboxes and road block sites (HER 1797 5773).