30 January 2011

Pont View

An enquiry has been received about the development of Pont View and hence we would like you to post your recollections and photos".
As far as we know, Pont View was built around 1962/3 by a Scottish builder. The houses came equipped with so-called "Scottish bins" which were little metal dustbins perhaps for ash.

There was a plan to extend the estate over the river - to Eland Haught and that the plan involved a road bridge across the Pont in place of the houses that face you as you come down the hill from Jackson Avenue.
There was a footbridge in the area near the Cloggs at the end of the path down to the river bank and this was removed in the 1950's.

Ponteland Historian

Newsletter of Ponteland Local History Society
20th January 2011

Sadly the introduction to the first meeting of 2011 begins with the announcement of the death of Tom Hughes.  We offer our deepest sympathy to his wife Joan.  A Service is to be held in St. Mary’s Church, Ponteland at 12 Noon on Thursday 27th January.


Our speaker this evening is Graeme Young Director of the Bamburgh Castle Research Project.  Graeme will give an account of discoveries to date and future proposals.


Members will recall that because of bad weather in early December we cancelled the programmed Social Evening.  Initially it was anticipated that the event would simply be deferred by introducing an additional evening in the programme sometime during February.  Your Committee believe this is not practical and have therefore taken the decision to offer a full refund to those who purchased tickets in advance.  Our Treasurer, John Angel, has prepared his cash float accordingly and is available to start making refunds, on presentation of tickets, from this evening.  Refunds will also be available at subsequent meetings.


Members will recall the interesting presentation given by Jane Bowen (Belford History Society) on “The Poor Little House” earlier in this year’s programme.  Jane has now taken over the editorship of Tyne & Tweed and is making the following appeal for articles for future issues:-“…..The Association has published Tyne & Tweed since 1967.  It was intended to provide a means of allowing member societies and their members to publish articles and photographs about local people, places and events, which have had

an impact on their part of Northumberland, the County as a whole, or indeed at national level.  Over the years, however, the mistaken view seems to have grown that the Journal and its contents are of interest only to academics, and that contributors should have a background in higher education.  As I take over the editorship of the Journal, this is a request to consider sharing interests and knowledge with us by contributing to Tyne & Tweed……”

Jane can be contacted by telephone on 01668219653 or by email at boward@hotmail.co.uk


Members are welcome to attend all meetings of the Society which take place on selected Monday evenings in St. Mary’s Church Hall from 7.30 pm.  The next meeting on 31st January covers the regeneration of a lost landscape design by prepared Northumberland’s famous son, Capabity Brown.  The original plans for Kirkharle were rediscovered recently and a new lake and other landscape features have been created.  John and Kitty Anderson, the present owners, will be telling the full story in: “Capability Brown’s Landscape Created at Kirkharle”.

 For your diary further meetings in their programme are:
28th March AGM followed by Richard Pears – “Architectural Oddities”
18th April Chris Jones – “Historic Villages in and around Northumberland National Park


At the February meeting “Chatting about Antiques” our speaker A. S. Burman is prepared to offer valuations.  If you have a prize possession or collectors piece that is readily transportable then bring it along on the night.


26th March 2011
ANLHS One-Day School in Wooler
”Women’s Work”

18TH June 2011
ANLHS Round the County Day hosted by:
Corbridge Village Trust


A family bible, which is in very good condition, was recently donated to the Society but as it has no connection with Ponteland it is of little historic interest as an addition to our archives.  It also has no intrinsic value particularly as the family detail pages have been removed.  The Committee have therefore decided to dispose of it free to a good home.  If you are interested please contact Jean Robson or John Turner.


The University has provided a very limited number of copies of the programme cards for the forthcoming Insights public lectures, Live music concerts and the Coming of Age art exhibition.  These cards are available this evening.  Further information is available at:


The following is a selection from the programme of special exhibitions to be held in Alnwick this year:
Until 11th February
“Now & Then” - Photographic scenes of Northumberland.
February 15th to April 1st.
“Robert & The Railways” - The Art of Robert Stephenson
July 19th to September 2nd.
“What’s in a Name” - Discover the unusual jobs done in Alnwick over the years.

A Good Read

The Ponteland U3A have published a compilation of 34 Members’ recollections in “Our Wartime Memories” which is available at £5.

24 January 2011

Former Spitfire pilot and Prisoner of War dies

This month's edition of PONT NEWS AND VIEWS includes an item By Muriel Sobo

Tom Hughes was a 19 year old when he volunteered for the RAFVR in 1940 and won his wings the next year. He was initially disappointed to be sent to theCentral Flying School in Wiltshire to instructnew pilots but many of his fellow officers losttheir lives in missions at this time.
He went to North Berwick to train on night fighters, the Blenheims and Beaufighters but his ambition was to fly Spitfires. This was soon realised after further training at Grangemouthan d Biggin Hill. Tom was part of the vast assembly of air power built up in North Africa and Malta in 1943 to cover the invasion of Sicily. After the German retreat from Sicily Tom was testing a captured German Messer Schmidt when the plane crashed into a vineyard but fortunately he had bailed out.
Surviving a crash by using his parachute made him eligible for membership of the unique Caterpillar Club, whose members were awarded a tiny gold caterpillar by the owners of the American firm who made the parachutes, IRVIN.
As the Allies pushed into Italy, Tom was No 2 in the 43 Squadron, commanded by a Polish pilot, and he was flying very long hours. On 18 December 1943, he was on a mission around the fiercely contested Monte Cassino when his Spitfire took a hit from the German anti-aircraft batteries.
The next thing he knew he was in a Field Hospital with a German padre saying prayers over him. At least they had saved his life! Tom suffered severe injuries with badly burned lower limbs and a cracked head.
He was eventually moved to a prison hospital in Stuttgart where he spent over a year before a prisoner exchange brought him back home. He was highly amused to find that he was swapped for three Germans.
After the war Tom went up to Cambridge to read Mechanical Sciences and at the same time he was chief instructor to the undergraduates in the gliding school. These three years helped both his recovery from wartime trauma and to readapt to civilian life.
In 1947 Tom met Joan when his sister invited some girlfriends for the weekend. Ever the beau, he hired a plane for the afternoon and took the girls flying. They were terrified and thrilled! He said that Joan ‘passed muster’ and last June Tom and Joan celebrated their diamond wedding.
Flight Lieutenant Hughes worked for a number of major companies before coming north in 1968 to work for Ronson. He died aged 89 years on the last day of 2010.
Joan, of Old Station Court, Darras Hall, said: “He was such a kind man and would help anybody – people often asked for his help and he would always give it.”
Tom was a most hospitable gentleman and a great raconteur. Loved by all who knew him, he will be greatly missed. Joan was awarded the MBE in 1983 for her work as county organiser of the WRVS and she is a former Captain of Ponteland Ladies Golf Club.
A Service of Thanksgiving was held on January 27 at St Mary’s Church, Ponteland, followed by a flypast by members of Fl Lt Hughes’ squadron. We’re hoping to bring pictures in the March issue.

03 January 2011

A photographic exhibition celebrating the work of the Victorian Society opens in Newcastle

A travelling photographic exhibition which celebrates 50 years of the Victorian Society has now opened in Newcastle.

Curated by leading architectural historian, Gavin Stamp, Saving a Century illustrates some of The Victorian Society's most remarkable campaigns, among them the battles for St Pancras, Liverpool's Albert Dock, the Foreign Office and the much-regretted Euston Arch.

Using archive photographs and material from throughout the Victorian Society's fifty years of fighting for historic buildings, the exhibition in the Newcastle City Library charts the successes and defeats of the organisation that has done so much to change public attitudes towards the best of nineteenth century architecture.

'Saving a Century tells the extraordinary story of the battles that have shaped our towns and cities,' said Dr Ian Dungavell, Director of the Victorian Society. 'Without these campaigns, many of our most famous places would look very different today. The exhibition is a testament to the energy and vision of the early members of the Victorian Society as well as a sobering reminder of the way that public opinion and tastes change.'
Saving a Century opens on Monday 13th December at The Bewick Hall at Newcastle City Library, New Bridge Street West, Newcastle until 10th January 2011.
Admission is free.

VICTORIAN BUILDINGS LOST BEFORE 1958 - A photographic survey of some of the best Victorian buildings destroyed in the first half of the twentieth century, among them Crystal Palace (burnt down 30th November 1936), Trentham Hall, Staffordshire (abandoned by the 4th Duke of Sutherland in 1906 and demolished five years later) and Queen's Park Church, Glasgow (Scotland's worst architectural loss of the Second World War).
THE FOUNDATION OF THE VICTORIAN SOCIETY - Photographs and material from the opening meetings of the Society. Early members included architect Hugh Casson, architectural historian Christopher Hussey, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Sir John Betjeman.
THE EUSTON MURDER AND OTHER CASES - Photographs and text documenting the bitter battle for the Euston Arch, as well some of the Victorian Society's other early defeats. There were early victories too, among them the Oxford University Museum, proposed for demolition in 1961 to make way for new science buildings.
VICTORY IN WHITEHALL - Photographs charting the heroic, ten-year campaign against plans to demolish much of the historic square mile, including nearly every building south of Downing Street and Richmond Terrace. Sir George Gilbert Scott's Foreign Office, Richard Norman Shaw's New Scotland Yard and Middlesex Guildhall in Parliament Square were among the buildings proposed for demolition.
PLACES OF WORSHIP - A photographic survey of some of the historic churches, chapels and synagogues with which the Victorian Society has been involved. As churches are exempt from the secular planning system, it can be particularly difficult to guard them against insensitive change. With falling attendance figures and a growing number of redundant places of worship, the future of our best churches is one of the biggest challenges facing heritage campaigners today.
RAILWAY BUILDINGS - Photographs of some of the key buildings the Victorian Society fought for, as the closure of many branch and other railway lines resulted in the redundancy of numerous stations, bridges and viaducts. Newcastle Central Station is one of the grandest stations in Britain. Opened in 1850 it was designed by the distinguished local architect, John Dobson. That many pioneering and magnificent railway structures, such as St Pancras Station, survive today, often still in use, is very much owing to the efforts of the Society.
IRON, GLASS & STONE - Photographs of some of the most innovative nineteenth century buildings, among them Clevedon Pier, Islington's Royal Agricultural Hall and Bradford's Kirkgate Market, for which the Victorian Society has fought.
THE FUNCTIONAL TRADITION - Photographs of some of the most impressive industrial buildings for which the Society has fought. With the decline of the traditional industries of the North of England after the Second World War, many mills and warehouses became redundant while many Northern towns and cities became ashamed of their Victorian industrial legacy and anxious to replace it with something new. The Victorian Society, along with bodies such as SAVE Britain's Heritage, argued that nineteenth century industrial buildings were evocative and substantial structures which were not only of historical importance but capable of gainful re-use.
THE PURPLE OF COMMERCE - Photographs of some of the most significant Victorian commercial buildings to have come under threat in the last fifty years. Built partly as self-advertisements and partly to inspire confidence, these ambitious and substantial banks, offices and warehouses too often fall victim to redevelopment schemes.
COUNTRY HOUSES - Photographs of some of the grandest country houses to have been the subject of Victorian Society campaigns, among them Shadwell Park, Tyntesfield and Highcliffe Castle. Rendered redundant by social and cultural changes, some of the most famous large houses were demolished between the wars while many more disappeared in the 1950s.
DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE - A collection of photographs of some of the Victorian villas and terraced houses for which the Victorian Society has fought. Often extravagant and fanciful buildings, these buildings are regularly demolished to allow higher density developments in their grounds or make way for flats.
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS - A photographic survey of some of the best municipal buildings that have been saved or lost. Physical embodiments of the Victorians' strong sense of civic pride and duty, many of these splendid town halls, libraries, swimming pools, museums, art galleries and post offices still add much to the rich character of British towns and cities today.
BEACONS OF THE FUTURE - A survey of some of the Society's most recent campaigns, focusing on the battle for Victorian schools and swimming pools. Among the battles highlighted are the protest and funeral for Bonner School, the Public Inquiry for Easington Colliery School in County Durham and the local campaign for the Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham.
THE VICTORIANS REDEEMED - Photographs of some of the most notable Victorian buildings used and valued today.
SAVING A CENTURY is on show at The Bewick Hall, Newcastle City Library, New Bridge Street West, Newcastle. Admission is free.