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Whickham - ancient parish

Place name: means Village With A Quickset Hedge

Whickham lies three miles west of Gateshead, on a steep escarpment overlooking the Tyne valley. Until the 1950s, the village remained mainly rural with coal mines providing much employment. Since then large housing estates have changed the village into a town, although parts of the village centre remain unchanged.

John Wesley visited Whickham in 1742 and again in 1752. There are no early records of Methodism in Whickham, but both Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists met in the West end of the village in the houses of sympathetic followers. Methodism was essentially a ’working class’ religion and was supported by the miners and keelmen of the region. The Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1869 on Fellside Road.

Coal mining - Watergate colliery
Whickham became nationally famous for the export of coal. By the end of the seventeenth century 100,000 tonnes of coal were being mined each year, which was a greater output than any comparable area in the world. The coal was transported by waggonways to the staithes on the banks of the Tyne, then by keels down the Tyne to the larger ships (colliers) which sailed from the mouth of the Tyne. Watergate colliery was the last to open in Whickham, the shafts being sunk between 1923 and 1924. The deep mining of coal in the Gateshead area ceased in 1983 with the closure of Marley Hill Colliery.

There is no evidence to reveal when the old windmill was built, however we do know that it existed in 1567 when the villagers were ordered to pay for its upkeep. The mill stands on a small knoll, originally in the south-west corner of a pasture field, but now part of Chase Park. In 1640, when the Scots invaded, the millstones were broken or buried. There is no record of when the mill ceased working.

Lang Jack
This house at the junction of Woodhouse Lane and Clockburn Lane was built in 1830 by the stonemason, John English, known a ’Lang Jack’ due to his great height. He came to the area to work on the construction of the Chain Bridge, and became known locally for his feats of strength, including carrying the materials for his house great distances from quarries. When out ’on the spree’ at public houses he would leap in the air, making holes in the ceiling with his head. A statue erected in his honour during his lifetime was moved from its original site outside his home to its present site at the entrance to Church Chare in the nineteen-seventies.

Dockendale Hall
Built during the late 16th century, this is one of the oldest buildings in the village. Originally the holding of the Earl of Darlington, the hall was later held by Lord Ravensworth and by John Meek, a local farmer. In 1948 the estate was purchased by the Catholic Church. The stables were turned into a church, the Hall used as presbytery, and the new Church later built in the grounds.

Bay Horse Public House
Set back from Front Street at the east end of the village, the Bay Horse has been a popular meeting point for many years. Between 1919 and 1923 it was used by the local football team as both cloakroom and clubhouse. This successful team, in addition to winning cups and league shields, played charity matches in fancy dress.

William Bourn
The writings of William Bourn , local historian, included published parish histories of Ryton and Whickham. Born in 1848, he later attended Whickham Parochial School until at the age of 13 he left to work at Newall’s rope works in Dunston. He later worked at Stephenson’s engineering Works in Newcastle and Armstrong’s Elswick Works. In 1891 he was appointed School Attendance Officer, a position he held until he retired due to ill health in 1913. He contributed to the Monthly Chronicle and the parish magazine in addition to writing histories of local villages and families. He died in 1926 aged 77.

Raine & Co.
Raine & Co. Ltd. were iron and steel manufacturers. They established their firm in 1730. During the period of the Napoleonic wars they had the distinction of manufacturing the chain which was suspended across the mouth of the Tyne to deter French ships. The company supplied the shipbuilders, engineers and collieries of the North East.





Bill Quay


Blackhall Mill




High Spen



A History of Low Fell
A History of Low Fell
A Four part series By M. Hope Dodds

Gateshead Central Library
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