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Tyne and Wear HER(16617): Spital Tongues - Details

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Spital Tongues

Spital Tongues




Early Modern



Spital Tongues began as a tiny separate settlement on the moors outside Newcastle. Its name comes from the tale that Edward I (1239-1307) gave two outlying pieces of land ('tongues') to the St. Mary Magdalene Hospital. The 18th century New House, probably the first development in Spital Tongues, changed its name to St. Luke's in 1766 when it became the town's first private lunatic asylum. In 1795 it was renamed Belle Grove Retreat. Another large house was Moor Lodge or Moor Cottage, leased from St. Mary Magdalene Hospital by William Hunter, coal owner. Hunter's Moor is named after him. Framlington Place was built around the same time, exploiting views across the moor. The first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1860 shows Spital Tongues as a small settlement. In 1836 Leazes Main (Spital Tongues) Colliery opened and was key to the village's growth into a mining sttlement with worker's houses, shops, church, pub and allotments. The Victoria Tunnel was built between 1839 and 1842 to take coal to the Tyne. The colliery was short lived, closing in 1860. A ropery is shown on the 1860 map. The workers lived in Ropery Terrace and Long Row, near what is now Morpeth Street. In 1857 the Belle Grove Public House was built. Belle Grove Retreat became Belle Grove House in the same year. In 1867 the Benson Memorial Church opened. Belle Grove West was laid out in 1870 and the entrance to the Victoria Tunnel was infilled. Robson's furniture factory opened in the 1880s. His workers lived in Sheraton Street and Chippendale Place. Ancrum Street, Oxnam Crescent and Dunns Terrace were also built. In 1884 St. Mary Magdalene Hospital bought back its lease from William Hunter and converted Moor Lodge into a 'home for incurables'. In 1893 a new hospital building was built in the grounds, St. Mary Magdalene Home. In 1899 a soldier's home, Huntsmoor House, was built by Fenham Barracks. It later became a clothing factory, then book warehouse. In 1900 Belle Grove House was renamed Whiteknights. The hospital was extended in 1911. Moor Lodge was demolished in 1931. In the 1920s Tyneside flats were built on Morpeth Street. Trams once ran along Hunter's Road. In 1959 38 bungalows were built next to Hunter's Moor Hospital, replacing the terraced housing. In the mid C20 Mill House, a 15 storey block of flats, replaced more worker's terraces. Spital Tongues school closed in 1977 and the site redeveloped for housing. Today Spital Tongues is still separated from Newcastle by the Town Moor, Hunter's Moor, Nun's Moor and Castle Leazes. Hunter's Moor Hospital closed in 2007 and has since been demolished and replaced by a school. This is a real pity as the Suggested Conservation Area Scoping Study of 2009 stated that the hospital and grounds had special appeal as an integrated historic site. Whiteknights, the colliery and the historic core at Sheraton Street form a triangle. The rectilinear grid inserted into this triangle creates interesting angles, strong junctions and tight views. Fountain Row has a welcoming curve. The terraces have back yards and lanes, some have front gardens. The 1980s housing on Hunter's Road and Magdalene Court have overlain historic road patterns but kept some old trees. Belle Grove Place has a polite open court. But Belle Grove Villas (built in local stone) and Place are hemmed in by Castle Leazes Halls. Belle Grove Terrace is open to the moor. Granite setts can be seen below tarmac.




North of England Civic Trust, February 2009, Spital Tongues, Newcastle upon Tyne - Suggested Conservation Area Scoping Study, Draft Report, p 11

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