Windy Nook leading up to WW1

The still familiar pattern of a village sited on the cross-roads is apparent. Described in 1858 as ‘a bleak village standing near the summit of a steep hill’. The narrow streets of Union Place and Stone Street no longer exist. Indeed much of the surrounding land saw extensive building of council houses both after the First and Second World Wars.

1. Primary School

The first school in Windy Nook appears to have been run by John ‘’Cooky’ Henderson in Stone street during the 1820s. A new school was built opposite the Black Horse Inn before a National school was opened in 1883. It could accommodate 250 infants and 350 junior. Parents were charged 1d per week.

2. The base of the old windmill

This no longer exists but is a useful pointer as to the origins of the name ‘Windy Nook’. Its name first appears in a baptismal record of 1698 when it is referred to as ‘Windie Nook’. It was originally 70 feet high and was badly damaged during the great storm of 1839.It was last worked in 1879 and finally demolished in 1964.

3. Great Grindstone Way

Running through Windy Nook ran a wagon way known as the Great Grindstone Way, which ran from Washington to the Staithes at Felling Shore. The quarries here were known as the Blue Quarries and produced the highest quality stone. By the beginning of the 20th century, the quarries were employing over 200 men. Accidents were common.

4. Quarried Stone

The quarried stone was used to build St Alban’s Church, the Mechanics Institute and the the local school. The quarries later became run down and their sites eventually filled in during the 1960s.

5. The Cooperative Stores.

The Coop movement dated back to 1844 in Rochdale. A group of workmen had gathered together to buy and sell goods to working people at knock down prices. Business opened at Windy Nook on 14th August 1874 with John Oxberry in charge. (see his gravestone in St Alban’s churchyard).

Murder most foul! In October 1907 the management of the Coop stores realised that stealing was taking place from the butchery department. Three members of the Coop decided to lay a trap for the thief – George Ather, Christopher Carr and John Patterson. Later that evening the men heard the sound of a key being turned in the lock. The men watched in silence as a man crossed the shop on his way to the slaughterhouse. The three sprang from hiding to apprehend the thief when a shot rang out and Patterson fell to the fall with a bullet hole in the head. Ather chased the villain and struck him twice on the head with a hammer. However, the thief was lost in the darkness of the night. The search was on and it wasn’t long before a local blacksmith – Joseph William Nesbitt of Stone Street – was identified as the culprit.

Noble was tried at the Durham Assizes in March 1908 and found guilty of murder. He was hanged at Durham on 24 March 1908. John Patterson was buried in St Alban’s churchyard.


6. Windy Nook Road

Windy Nook Road shows the junction of Coldwell Lane, Albion Road. The old post office is shown on the right. Many of the men appear to be dressed in their ‘Sunday best’


8. Albion Street

Albion Street was one of the two original roads created by the enclosure of the common lands of Heworth. No one knows why it was given the name ‘Albion’, which incidentally was the ancient name for Britain. Many of these houses were demolished in the 1930s to make way for new housing


9. Black House Inn

The Inn had various names in the past including the ‘Coal Waggon’ and may have been rebuilt in 1844 after a fire. In the early 1900s, a skittles bowling alley was situated behind the pub. Throughout the 19th century, the black House was used as a meeting place for miners at Heworth Colliery


10. St Alban’s Church

The church opened in 1842 having cost £850 to build and could house 300 worshippers. The first vicar was a young man of 25, Edward Hussey Adamson. He served in the church until his death aged 81 in 1898. In the churchyard are two gravestones to him and his wife and in the church are two windows to their memory. The churchyard was also the scene of a long funeral procession following the disaster at Heworth Colliery in 1933.


11. Cooperative Crescent

The Cooperative Society also bought a field of the west side of Coldwell Lane and in November 1891, a number of cottages were built for members with a guide price of £175. Cooperative Terrace was also built shortly afterwards.


12. Mechanics Institute

John Oxberry had the idea of starting reading rooms for local workmen – quarrymen like himself – where they could go and chat and educate themselves and listen to talks. The highlight was the performance of George Ridley, the author of ‘Blaydon Races’ in June 1863.


13. The Windy Nook ‘Nobblers’.

 These footballers had their glory days just before the First World War when they won the Tyneside League in four successive years


14. Wedding Reception

At the local Methodist Chapel. Note the finery of the ladies dresses.


Image credits

Photographs with the kind permission of Gateshead Library (Local Studies)

Photo 12 by kind permission of Gordon Hudson

And with thanks to Norman Dent.

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