Sad Streets

I noticed yesterday that an old post of mine about my childhood in Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne, was attracting some interest. It’s one of the interesting things about running a blog that, quite often, an old post you thought was dead seems to get someone’s attention who sends it  on to some others and then, all of a sudden, it’s getting dozens of readers. I’m not sure who or what was having a look at this particular one, but it did spur me on to try to dispel my hangover after the staff Christmas lunch by having a look around the web to see if anything new had turned up since I last posted about Benwell.

At first I was delighted to find this photograph, taken sometime in the sixties,  showing the old trolley bus terminus at Delaval Road. This view is eastwards, looking along Benwell Lane towards Newcastle itself. The road going south towards the river (to the right) is Delaval Road and the complicated system of wires overhead enabled the electrically powered trolley buses to turn around and head back into town. These buses were phased out when I was little, but I remember them quite clearly, especially the rather comical palaver involved in trying to keep them attached to the wires.

To the left of the picture you can see a wall with trees behind. This marked the southern end of a small wood (“The Spinney”) inside which was the small cottage we lived in. The road behind the camera, the continuation of Benwell lane, is Whickham View.

It was nice to see this picture. It made me all nostalgic. Benwell was never actually Belgravia, of course. It wasn’t at all a wealthy neighbourhood and parts of it were quite rough, but my childhood there was pretty happy and there was a real sense of community to the place, helped by the presence of lots of little shops and good transport links.

Now look at essentially the same view, taken in 2009.

Superficially, the area hasn’t changed that much but all the shops are boarded up and all the houses abandoned. Even the road itself is in a state of disrepair. In fact, all the once busy streets leading down towards the Tyne to the south of Benwell Lane are now quite deserted and the whole area scheduled for demolition. You can see many more pictures of this depressing scene here.

I moved away from Newcastle in 1982 when I went to University. I therefore missed the terrible effect that the recession of the 1980s had on the streets I had grown up in. It also had a direct effect on my father, who separated from my mother when I was about 12. He ran a small business selling educational supplies (paper, pens, art materials etc) to schools and pre-school playgroups. Most of it was wholesale but he also ran a small shop which, at first, was on Benwell Lane. In fact it was one of the two shops you can see by the light blue car in the first picture, although this snap was taken a while before he took it over. I think it was a cake shop before that.

After some modest success he moved just along the road a bit to slightly larger premises on the corner of Whickham View and Delaval Road, i.e. just to the right of where the camera is positioned on the opposite side of the road to the greengrocers.  He lived in a flat above this new shop, which formerly sold wool and was run by an old lady called Mrs Ludgate.

As time went on and the recession bit harder, the social and material fabric of Benwell gradually deteriorated. There were increasingly frequent burglaries and car thefts. It became a no-go zone at night. His  business started to fail and debts began to mount. The stress of watching the neighbourhood falling apart and coping with the constant threat of break-ins at the shop and his flat eventually got too much for him. He packed everything he could into his van and fled to the South coast to live with his sister in Weymouth, leaving the dilapidated shop and all his debts behind. I’m sure there’s a similar story behind all the other empty shops in Benwell.

Looking at these bleak photographs of the deserted streets and houses of my youth filled me with sadness, not least because they seem like portents of the future of British science. In ten years time will we all be poring over pictures of abandoned observatories and research labs?

49 Responses to “Sad Streets”

  1. Just be sure to keep the military jets gassed up.

  2. Thanks for the pictures. I’m from Wallsend and of a similar age to you. I remember those buses and the previously tidy streets, now sadly in a state of disrepair.

  3. telescoper Says:

    I was actually born in Walker, but we moved to Benwell when I was just a baby. My grandparents (on my mother’s side) lived in Walker, but they both died quite a long time ago. The house they lived in, in Beverley Terrace, has now also been demolished.

  4. have been looking at your photos with much interest and appreciation as my husband’s family all come from Benwell (I am doing the family history) – in fact his great uncle William Bramble (ex Sheriff and Alderman) used to live at Benwell Hall and his great grandparents had a cobblers and hardware shops on Adelaide terrace -my mum in law was born in Beach(Beech?) Street and is still alive at 86 though very confused most of the time… It was good but sad to find out what happened to your father as I used to buy goods from him when I was in the area for my craft business until I came and found the shop closed. He was a nice man, friendly and helpful -sad that it turned out so badly for him and hope he is happier now. Doubt he will remember the lady from Lowestoft who used to come from time to time but pass on good wishes. thank you for the great but depressing pictures -such a shame to see those lovely houses allowed to rot – shameful!

    • telescoper Says:


      After he left Benwell, my Dad settled in Weymouth near his sister, also called Anne, who had moved there many years ago. He was much happier there than he had been in Benwell, and found regular work playing with local bands – he played the drums part-time, in case you didn’t know. However, he had a major heart attack a few years ago from which he never fully recovered. He passed away in October 2007, aged 67.

      I should point out those pictures aren’t actually mine, I found them at the website I’ve linked to on the post.


    • Linda Sutton Says:

      Hi there – I am a volunteer with West Newcastle Picture History group……also Benwell born and bred, being brought up on Pendower Way. You mention the Bramble family… of the sisters taught my father at Canning Street School. (I myself taught there 1983-2008, as it happens.) When Benwell Hall was demolished, the two remaining sisters moved to Gretna Road, to the house where I now live. The extension above the garage had no skirting-boards along one wall – I subsequently found out that this was because the wardrobes for the sisters’ furs had been there!

      • I cycled along Scotswood Road in July (was ridng the C2C) and saw new buildings going up, and a sales hoarding for ‘The Rise’. A website has an ‘artist’s impression’ which shows what they are building below Armstrong Road; but not all buildings above Armstrong Road have been demolished (as on Google Street View). Most of Milford Road houses are there, but Westfield Road houses are all gone. And a small number of buildings in Delaval Road are untouched, including no. 72 where I lived 1956-66. The ‘ghosts’ of the path at the bottom of Denton Gardens (where I was born in 1953) and the backlane between there and Benwell Dene Terrace are also shown in the drawing.

      • Hi. Here is a Google Earth rendition of the area: Goog Earth Image.

        We used to live in one of the cottages right next to Pendower School, just off Fox and Hounds Lane. The houses and school are now demolished, and a housing development stands where they were. My Dad’s shop was on the corner of Whickham View and Delaval Road. The green strips to the East of Delaval Road and running parallel to it were all terraced when I lived there. Virtually everything has gone.

        Notice also at the top right there is a location marked “Byker Grove”. That used to be Benwell Towers, formerly owned by the Diocese of Newcastle but when I was a kid it was a base for the National Coal Board from 1947 (including the HQ of the mine rescue service). Later on it became a tacky nightclub called The Mitre but when that closed it was used to film the long-running TV series Byker Grove where it was supposed to be a youth club. For non-local readers, Byker is on the other side of the city, nowhere near Benwell.

      • Malcom Hill Says:

        Hi there Peter, I was born in 1953, and lived in Benwell Grange Road until 1974 when I flew the parental nest for pastures new, I attended Atkinson Road School, from 1958 until 1974. I am sure that given our close proximity, and age group that our paths must have crossed at some time, although I cannot recall them them doing so. I enjoyed reading your bicycle ride tale, and always enjoy reading the posts on this site, always brings back happy memories of the old Benwell. Thank you. Malcolm Hill

      • catherine Says:

        Hi Linda
        Just came upon yours and others comments.
        I am the great great niece of william bramble and am just starting my family tree. I wonder if you remember which of the two daughters moved to Gretna Road and which number was the house?
        I understand if you don’t want to say but I am thinking of coming to Newcastle later this year to do some more research and would love to photograph some of my family’s background.
        I am a direct descendant of John Bramble, William’s brother, and I have a number of photographs with them both in, as well as my father and grandfather.
        Best wishes
        Catherine Bramble

      • James Edward Rolph Says:

        Hi Linda
        Just discovered this blog
        Interesting to find you taught at Canning Street
        I was a pupil there from from roughly 1961 to 1968. I can remember the names of a few of my classmates but many others long forgotten.
        Do you know if old school registers from that period still exist I’m sure if I could access one
        The names of pupils would spark memories.
        Jim Rolph

  5. Peter
    This a brilliant blog. I used to love going into your dads shop when I was young it has brought back memories.

  6. Mick Fothergill Says:

    Did you have an uncle George who lived up Alnmouth way?

    • telescoper Says:


      Sorry for not replying to your comment. It slipped through. Yes indeed, my Dad’s older brother George still lives in Alnmouth.


  7. Fran Knight (Nee Mallett) Says:

    Hi Everyone
    I love these photos, I was born and raised in Beech Street, we used that cobblers often. I also married and had 3 of my 4 children there, that place is ‘home’ and will always be so tho I am now 260 miles from it in the cotswolds.
    Keep the pics coming.
    Cheers Fran

  8. Your Uncle George taught me as a trainee Dental Technician i remember he used to give me a lift home when he visited your family, he had a Ford Cortina at the time. I actually lived on the same block (Whickham View) and remember Mrs Ludgate very well!

  9. Sorry meant to say i saw him last year at a colleagues leaving bash , he looked very well

  10. Peter

    I was born (1953) and bred in Benwell, and it always saddens me to see the state of the old place now.

    If you want to see some old photos, go to ‘Oldfphotos of Newcastle West End’ on Facebook, and have a look at the Benwell group. There are some great shots.



    • telescoper Says:


      Thank you so much for this. I searched through the (nearly 1500) pictures there hoping to find one of Pendower School, and there it was right at the end, number 1411! Posted a comment.


  11. Peter

    Had you started at the back it would probably have been photo number 90, such is life. Those photos are selectable by area now, so if you find the Benwell area, it should all be Benwell. Not like stating the obvious is there!! Pendower School was not too far from where I lived, Benwell Grange Road, just off Hodgkin Park Road. Some of the really old photos, and postcards show the park in its prime, with the dean all clean, and the paddling pool at the bottom of the dean. It has now been decorated with shopping trollies, garbage, graffiti and other such detrious. a crying shame really.



  12. greentreedisco Says:

    whey aye man, grew up there in the 70’s the “spinney” as you called it was called “the Lillia” in my youth ,great place to grow up,still have spooky dreams about being in that old primary school mind.

  13. My wife and \i bought a beacon house (one from which others were measured) in 1956 or thwereabouts. we lived there for twelve years before moving to Durham. Our son was born in the Westgate road hospital. The shops I remember were jacks fish and chips, near the top of Deleval Road, a very good butchers next to the Co–op greengrocers, and the newagent on the opposite side was the wool shop, and next dor was a dairy. Happy days. Petro; from the local garage on Westgate Road was 3s and 4d per gallon. By the way Jacks fish and chip shop had a joung musician who visited on some Fridays and if he played a tune on his guitar he recieved free fish and chips I was told by Jack he was called Hannk Marvin.

    • telescoper Says:

      The wool shop was owned by a lady called Miss Ludgate, although that may have been after you were living there. My Dad bought the shop when Miss Ludgate died, sometime around 1980.

  14. Malc Hill Says:

    I remember a shop at the top of Deleval Road, I think it was a Post Office. We used to walk to the Lower John Marlay school, around 1975-6, and stop off at the shop for a couple of Embassy cigs, which cost 3d each, and the wifey behind the counter would give us a couple of matches buck shee. Nowadays she would probably be hung, drawn and quartered, and her family exiled in shame for such a wilfull act of child abuse!!

    • telescoper Says:

      The Post Office was just down from the wool shop, on the same side. I don’t remember it selling cigarettes but you could definitely buy them individually from the Barber’s shop on Benwell Lane. I don’t remember the name, but there was a little window out to the street where they dispensed the tabs.

  15. Hi there,I was brought up in the area,wayside. Was up there 2 weeks back,took my wife up there,I also live in Weymouth now,moved away in the early 90’s. Its sad to see the state of the place now but gotta say Im glad to be away from the north east!
    What was your Dad’s full name,just wondering because my father inlaw is Weymouth born and bred and also played in local bands,may well of known your father!


  16. I was thrilled when I found, quite by accident, your article ‘Sad Streets’ – I lived in one of them – 66 Denton Gardens. That street along with Deleval Road and Benwell Dene Terrace have now all been demolished. It’s a sad sight to see just a huge swathe of land where only the lamp posts are left standing. They’re not even the lovely old ones, just long metal poles. I travelled on that bus – the No 33 regularly. The 33A went on along Whickam View. I could walk up Denton Gardens and see a bus leaving the terminus but never needed to panic because another would be there waiting. They ran every few minutes – wish I could say that where I’m living now (Somerset/Wiltshire border). You’ve inspired me to start blogging, just posted my first which is also about Benwell. Thank you.

    • Phil(ip) Mantey Says:

      Took me more than 2 years to see your post !
      I lived at 56 Denton Garden until 1967 when we moved to Denton Burn .
      I still live in the north east in Victoria Glade , near Newcastle United Academy .
      Had a lot of fond memories playing in the street in Denton Gardens and Hodgkin Park.

      Trying to remember who was at 66 ? Must have known you .
      People I remember , Mark (Cavigan? )The last flat on the left hand side before the council Houses. The Hullahs , Brian and Steven .
      Keith Naylor , he became a fireman. John Vasey , Paul and Anne Hopkinson , their mam was a piano teacher , Debora (think her surname was Lec) , Susan Ord and some other faces I can’t put names to at the moment.
      There were so many of us all played together in the street , happy days !

  17. Peter Wood Says:

    The Post Office at the top of Delaval Road was part of what was called ‘The Dairy’, might also have been called Weddel’s Dairy. A lady called Alma used to work there. Found this blog Googling ‘Old Benwell’ as I had to enter ‘New Benwell’ as my home town on Facebook. Was shocked to see the demolition and predemolition views on Google Earth and Steetview. Is Mick Fothergill the brother of Janet Fothergill?

    • telescoper Says:

      Yes, I saw the area on a trip home for Xmas. It’s all completely gone now, flattened and grassed over.

    • Peter Wood Says:

      Just dipped into this site as I often do…saw my name along with my brother Michael’s could have knocked me over with a feather.
      We lived at 31 Benwell Dene Tce. Went up a few weeks ago so sad. All those memories all those families wonder where they all are. Would love to hear from anyone who remembers me including you Peter.

      Kind Regards
      Janet Farnham(nee Fothergill0

      • Peter Wood Says:

        Think I got a bit mixed up with replying!! hope this gets through.

        It’s Peter Wood I was trying to connect with and anyone who remembers me…Janet Fothergill. Just talking to Mary Sullivan this morning, still my best friend in the whole world she lived in Denton Gardens.

        As before would love to hear from anyone who knew me back then.

        Kind Regards


      • Mick Fothergill Says:

        I remember me!

      • Peter Wood Says:

        Hi Janet, musn’t have seen you since 1966 when we moved from Delaval Road to Walkergate. In 1969 moved south and have been there ever since. Never thought I would be happy living close to the River Thames (in Oxfordshire).

  18. Peter Wood Says:

    Well Peter, didn’t know you lived in Delaval Road can remember you in Denton Gardens maybe visiting Grandparents? any other names you remember? wonderful memories,do You remember the Sullivan’s, Mrs Sullivan still on the go and she’s 94!!!

  19. Janet Fothergill. Says:

    Have been wracking my brains trying to remember the name of the couple who ran the shop at the top of Benwell Dene Tce……Mr. Rifkin, (Before the Bells) He also had a shop at the top of Denton Gardens(fruit&veg) next to Dentons the bakers him and his wife lived above the shop lovely couple.

    • Christopher William Gemmell Says:

      Maurice and Sonia Rivkin with their son Michael had the shop at the top of Benwell Dene Terrace,they lived in a flat top of Denton Gardens over the fruit shop .They didn’t have the fruit shop.Maurice was also a door to door linen salesman.Their son Michael became a teacher in Whickham.All three have passed away. Sonia was the last to go she was a lovely lady.

  20. […] here, as it happened before I started blogging, but perhaps its time to write something. Here is an excerpt from an earlier post about Benwell that refers to my father’s relocation to Dorset from his (and my) home town of Newcastle upon […]

  21. Linda gibson Says:

    My grandma lived at 64 Benwell Dene Terrace from late 1930s until early 1960s. My memories? Sweet shop at top of road (Aunty Norah worked there). Cake shop further along. Further along another street that had post office one side and butchers and newsagents other side. Remember riding trolley buses and also that my Uncle Billy liked at drink at the Greentrees? pub. SO sad that it is all demolished now.

  22. avril morgan Says:

    HI I lived in delaval road and started school at delaval infants,i can remember going into miss ludgates and Alma in the shop I used to get my ice lollies off her, I remember going into both your dads shops when little ,I still go to delaval road to the drs on betts avenue, I was talking to Jackie Sullivan in town a few weeks ago , mrs Sullivan still going strong. my mam was born in delaval road and we had family living in denton gardens I think no 39, so sad to see all demolished now.i also can remember your house next to pendower school,

  23. […] in Benwell which is to the West of Newcastle upon Tyne; you can find a couple of examples here and here. The place has changed beyond all recognition since I was a kid, which I suppose accounts for the […]

  24. John Taberham Says:

    Like Fran Knight I lived in Beech Street. We lived at number 7 from 1950 to 1958. I had 2 brothers Ken and Norman. We went to Elswick Road School. Neighbours were George and May Fairbairne and they had a daughter Christine. Funny the Mallett’s were the only other family I remember. George dressed me up as a clown for the coronation party. He used cardboard boxes from the Co-op, he did a good job I won 3rd prize, a toy gardners set. Not very usefull in Beech Street. Adelaide Terrace was our playground. Happy memories. when did they pull the street down? Havn’t found a photo of the street, only ones about are of Jennings bakery. Is there one out there?

  25. Hi, I was born and brought up in Benwell ( 1979) was the year I was born! I lived through the good times and the bad times of growing up in Benwell… I seen it change so much in the time I was there- it was never a lavish place to live but it was a close knit community sadly I seen that desolve into mayhem.. riots and decline before my eyes.. it made me sad to see your photos of Delaval Road and how it used to look to how it looks now.. demolished!! I had a happy childhood growing up in Benwell and it never affected my adulthood growing up in the mayhem what was Benwell!! I remember the good times with grace.

    • Hi Diane, I was a little ahead of you, we left Beech Street -off Adelaide Terrace -in 1958. Since retiring I have been researching this area where I spent my childhood. Check out online, old photos of Benwell through the West Newcastle Picture History Collection. Old history can be found on line through the St. James Heritage and Environment Group. If your on facebook try
      Happy hunting. John Taberham

  26. Alan E. Smith Says:

    Hi, my family lived in Forest road which was off Delaval road and parallel to Armstrong Road. I went through the Delaval Rd schools then onto Atkinson Technical. I did a butchers round for Billy Milne whose shop was next to the off-licence at the top of Hodgkin park Rd. Aboard my “Granville “bike I covered Denton Burn, Fenham right across to Elswick delivering meat and eggs Friday night and Saturdays. I did a short run on Wednesday evening with the mid-week orders; all for fifteen bob a week! My family were re-located to North Kenton in 1956 when the Council offered us a new house.
    Great to hear you all.
    Alan Smith – New Zealand

  27. We lived in 112 benwell dean tce in the 1970s onwards . It was amazing place to live . Me mam was a home help and worked from cruddas park . Me mates dad ran Hodgkin park . Me dad worked for Pickfords removals in galogate Newcastle. We had very little but made the most of what we had . Just amazing times . To see it now it’s shocking. So sad 🤔

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