Keith Jewitt is a retired accountant, an environment enthusiast dedicated to the “Keep Jesmond Clean” campaign and a community activist. He is also the author of In a Magpie’s Eye: The Jesmond Year in Haiku. Keith lives in Jesmond.
Literary and Philosophical Jesmond – Walk 2
We start on Matthew Bank, at Jesmond’s furthest extremity, where the house of Winifred Watson was unexpectedly bombed in 1941. Her most famous book Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was adapted into film in 2008, starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams.
Walk S up Matthew Bank – at the junction with Jesmond Dene Rd, look left and you’ll see Jesmond Dene House, home of Sir Andrew Noble. Here, John Meade Falkner briefly acted as tutor to the Nobel children, before following Noble into the armaments industry and then branching out into writing. Falkner’s books, written on business trips for the Armstrong works, included The Lost Stradivarius and Moonfleet.
Bear R, then turn L into Friday Fields Lane, which leads to Towers Avenue. The double row of trees on Towers Avenue shows that it was the carriage drive into Jesmond Towers, formerly known as West Jesmond House, the seat of Sir Thomas Burdon and Richard Burdon-Sanderson.
Turn L onto Towers Avenue, which rapidly turns into Bemersyde Drive, the childhood home of Paul Torday. Paul wrote for many years before achieving success with Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a tale of faith overcoming the odds.
Turn immediately R, passing the Northumberland Tennis Club on your L, and then turn L onto Osborne Road. After 200 yards or so, turn R onto Sanderson Road. On your R you will see another plaque, marking the house where Yevgeny Zamyatin stayed in 1915-16. It was here that he wrote his first book The Islanders, which is also set in Jesmond – a few later he wrote his now-famous dystopian novel We which is believed to have been a major influence on Orwell’s 1984.
Turn R onto Acorn Rd, then sharp L onto St George’s Terrace, where the young JRR Tolkein visited his Aunt Grace and his uncle William Mountain, who was a prominent mining engineer. William’s knowledge of mining may have inspired the subterranean passages in The Lord of the Rings.
Bear L, go along Mistletoe Road and turn R onto Osborne Road. Walk S and you will see Fern Avenue where (at number 13) the poet and critic Michael Roberts lived for several years while teaching at the RGS. Here, he edited the massively popular Faber Book of Modern Verse, and was visited by WH Auden in 1937. His wife, Janet Adam Smith, was also famous as a mountaineer, biographer, and Listener journalist, who gave early publicity to the Pitmen Painters of Ashington.
Keep going S along Osborne Road – on your L is Holly Avenue, home of Mari Hannah’s fictional detective DCI Kate Daniels. Follow Holly Avenue all the way down to Jesmond Road, where you can enjoy a sandwich at Kate’s favourite eatery Dene’s Deli.
You can download the above (with map) as a pdf file by clicking this link.
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