Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hollinside Manor

Repair work has been carried out to Hollinside medieval manor house in the Derwent Valley following the award of a grant of £14,000 by English Heritage to Gateshead Council. The video gives a bit of background on the work.

Monday, April 20, 2009

St Petersburg's Hermitage Ensemble in Gateshead

The Hermitage Ensemble from St Petersburg will be singing a mixed programme of Orthodox and Russian folk music on Saturday 25th April at 7.30pm. The Ensemble are one of Russia's finest male choirs, and we are very fortunate to have them singing in Gateshead. Tickets are 7 full, 5 for concessions and are available from Reverend Jim Craig on

Revd Jim Craig is Community Arts Chaplain in Bensham and Gateshead.

The Ensemble are only performing in a limited number of venues for their visit to the UK, and have specifically sought to perform in Gateshead because of its reputation for excellence in the arena of the arts.

The outstanding acoustics of St Chad's church will prove to be a fitting setting for such vocal talent, complimenting its marvellous Arts and Crafts decor. Tickets are available now, though a small number will be made available on the door.

You don't have to consider yourself a religious person to enjoy such vocal talent. Rev Craig has heard the Hermitage Ensemble perform before, and and reports that there is nothing to compare the sound to.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Comment moderation has been removed

For regular readers, you will be pleased to learn that I have removed comment moderation. That means you are free to comment without my having to check first. So feel free to comment but use the function wisely!

Jonathan Wallace

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Flower beds and grass cutting to be cut in Whickham area

Cuts to grass cutting, the removal of flower beds and reduction in size of others will take place over the coming months as cuts imposed by Gateshead Council on Local Environmental Services begin to bite.

There are concerns in Whickham that the village's hopes of further success in Britain and Northumbrian in Bloom competitions could be dented by the loss of flower beds.

"The cuts to the budget did not meet with out approval. The final decision on the cuts have not yet been made and local Lib Dem councillors are in discussion with officers to try to minimise the impact on our local villages," said Cllr Allison Chatto.

"However, there is the possibility that local groups and businesses could sponsor individual flower beds. They would get public recognition for their contribution and also boost Whickham's chances in Britain in Bloom. Judges are always impressed by community involvement."

Anyone interested in sponsoring a flower bed in any of the local villages should contact Councillor Peter Craig on

A list of the proposed cuts is included below.

Border plots outside St Mary's Church are proposed for removal.

The butterfly beds on Whickham Front St are set be reduced

Proposed planted areas to be removed:

Beverly Drive - remove 50% (5) flower beds
Junction Hood Street / Market Lane - remove 2 small flowebeds at side (33%)
Jubilee Terrace No 1 - remove rose bed
Whickham Bank - remove 2 rose beds
Sands Industrial Estate - corner plot T Shirt printers - remove shrubbery
Whickham Front Street - Butterfly beds - remove 4 x flower beds (at edge, not butterflies)

2 flowerbeds at St Nicholas Church in Dunston

4 beds at St Mary's Church
beds at Arthur Cook, Cedar Cres and The Drive

Marleyhill Community Centre Horseshoe Remove Flowerbed
Sunnhill APU Remove 1 x Flowebed
Marleyhill APU Bungalows Remove 1 x Rose bed
Kingsway Remove 3 x Flowerbeds
Broadway/Sunniside Road Remove 1x Rose bed
Broadway/ Sunniside Road Reduce large Rose bed
Burden Park Entrance Remove Shrubbery
Longwood Close 2 x Shrubbery to Remove
Elm Court 3 x Shrubbery to Remove
Oakfield Road Next to Supermarket Shrubbery reduce by 50%
Foxhills Side No 40 Remove Shrubbery
Foxhills covert Side No7 Reduce Shrubbery by 50%
Foxhills Covert Side/Front No 40 Reduce Shrubbery by 50%
Bryerside Close/Fellside Park Opp Entrance Reduce Shrubbery by 50%
Thistledon Ave Adj Path Remove ShrubberyFellside Road Side of 44 Remove Rose bed

Proposed areas to be left uncut:

Area on Whickham Bank opposite escape route.
Area behind Gamekeeper Pub.
LongRigg, but one metre strip to be cut at edge.
Harry Ramsden / Riverside Way, Metro Centre - but cut strip front and side
Swalwell Park, but cut one metre strip either side of path and cut fence line
North View grassland
Marley Hill Community centre…..Field at front (wet area) 50%.
The Dene… Hole Lane sunniside.
Woods junction of Fellside road/Oakfield Road.
Woods next to Grange walk and Coachman’s Public House.
Kingsway large area to be left uncut 60%.
Kingsway small area to be left uncut 60%.Cloverhill SchoolArea to the rear/side of football pitch.(This area is next to fields which are cut once yearly.)

Marley Hill’s missing miners’ banner – can you help?

Former pitmen at Marley Hill Colliery have one of the few remaining Victorian miners’ banners still in existence. But there are now great concerns about this important piece of local history as the banner has now gone missing.

The banner was kept at the National Union of Mineworkers’ HQ in Redhills, Durham, but officials there now state it has vanished.

Victorian miners banners can fetch significant four figure sums but the value of it to the people who once worked at Marley Hill and to the community generally is far, far higher.

Sunniside History Society are determined to track down the banner and return it to its rightful owners, the local community. If you have any information that can help us to track it down, please get in touch with Councillor Jonathan Wallace on

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Village faces loss of business if parking charges brought in

Whickham village centre in Gateshead could be hit by a loss of business if plans to introduce parking charges are not watered down further.

The claim was made by local Liberal Democrat councillors who surveyed people in the village centre about the plans by Gateshead Council to bring in charges to parking behind the Library and Gibside Hotel.

The survey of shoppers was carried out earlier in April. People were asked about the plans to bring in a £1 a day long stay charge and 20p an hour short stay.

The charges were first proposed by Gateshead Council two years ago, but after an outcry by residents and a campaign by local Liberal Democrat Councillors, their introduction was delayed. This was to allow for further consultation.

“The Council has come back with a revised plan to allow the first 20 minutes to be free,” said Cllr Peter Craig.

“However, we feel this is still insufficient. We decided therefore to ask current users of the car park about their views. We found that nearly half the people questioned would be less likely to use the car park if the charges are introduced.

“Two out of three believe the first 20 minutes being free was too short. Most suggested the first hour should be free instead. As councillors for the area, we feel this is a reasonable compromise.

“Without a longer free period, there are concerns that shops, already hit by the recession, will see a further loss of business. Many will go instead to the Metrocentre, just down the bank from Whickham, where parking is free.

“We are continuing to consult residents and will then take up the findings with the Council.”

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Scotswood Bridge closure

The Scotswood Bridge will be closed to all traffic on Sunday, 19 April to allow essential maintenance work to be carried out.

The bridge will be closed to traffic in both directions between 7am and 7pm to enable workman to clean gullies, inspect and clean expansion joints and inspect and repair road lighting.

It is expected that the Scotswood Bridge will also be closed to traffic on the following Sunday (26th April) to allow a major six-yearly structural inspection of the bridge to be completed.

Residents surveyed on plans for traffic lights

RESIDENTS of Sunniside, Gateshead, have overwhelmingly backed plans for traffic lights in the village.

A survey of residents was carried out by the village’s three Liberal Democrat councillors, Marilynn Ord, John McClurey and Jonathan Wallace.

The Council plans to put in traffic lights at the busy junction of Sunniside Road and Sunniside Front Street.

Currently many vehicles are driving through residential areas to get to the traffic lights at the Coronation Road junction with Front Street. It is hoped that the additional traffic lights will cut down on this rat-running.

“Over two thirds of those responding to our survey welcomed the plans,” said Marilynn. “We are pleased with this as we have been pressing the council to put in traffic lights at the junction for a number of years.

“There are some details that residents have raised and we hope to sort these with the engineers shortly.”

The lights are now expected to be installed in the next few months.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dunston waste ground restored

Former waste ground covered by weed strewn tarmac in Dunston has been retored with the help of children from Dunston Riverside Primary School.

The corner site between Colliery Road and Collingwood Terrace near the meeting of the rivers Tyne and Team had been blighted by anti-social behaviour.

Gateshead Council agreed to a scheme to create a pleasant community space which local people could take pride in and deter anti-social activities.The work to replace the old tarmac was paid for by Gateshead’s Neighbourhood Pride fund, which provides cash to help tackle issues which matter most to residents and can make neighbourhoods a better place to live in.

Neighbourhood Pride is a joint venture between Gateshead Council and The Gateshead Housing Company.

Plans are already being made to improve the area further during National Tree Week.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dunston War Memorial Rededication

The Duke of Kent rededicated the Dunston War Memorial on Friday 20th March 2009.

Special guests open High Spen School's new kitchens

High Spen Primary School welcomed three very special guests on Wednesday, 1st April to open its new kitchen.

Newcastle Vipers David Longstaff, Derek Campbell and Rob Wilson, representing the Vipers Community Foundation, a registered charity promoting healthy lifestyles to improve academic achievement, officially cut the ribbon for the new facility.

The event formed part of the school’s healthy lifestyle week, aimed to encourage exercise and healthy eating for both school pupils and their parents.The school has already reported an increase in its school meals uptake since the new kitchen was completed, and the facility allows chefs to provide a wider range of food.

Children at the school already help to grow food at the local community garden, a move which cuts food miles and helps reduce damage to the environment.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Saltwell Park Show

Saltwell Park Show will be held on Saturday 4th - Sunday 5th April, from 10am to 4pm.

Voluntary groups based in the restored Victorian park home will be showcasing their work and talents during the free event, including the Saltwell Park Model Boat Club - whose floating miniature marvels will be demonstrated throughout both days – and the Friends of Saltwell Park who will be leading walks to discover more about the wildlife that lives in and around the parks lake.

Coaches and trainers from Gateshead Council will also be on hand running free sports sessions for 8 - 15 year olds in the parks expansive Northern Fields, while there will be the opportunity for adults to take a fitness test too.

Another restored piece of Saltwell Park’s past, the bandstand, will play host to the City of Newcastle Pipe Band with three performances on each day.

A much less traditional sight in the park will be a giant Venus Fly Trap and outsized fly as part of an unusual park theatre performance from the Bell and Bullock Circus Theatre.

Award for Bill Quay Community Farm

Bill Quay Community Farm has been awarded a Learning Out of the Classroom Quality Badge and is one of the first venues in the country to obtain this national award.

The Quality Badge is for organisations and venues that provide learning outside the classroom experiences for children and young people aged up to 19 and offer high quality teaching and learning experiences in a safe and healthy environment.

The award is made by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.