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 1
Jesmond is a largely residential suburb immediately to the north of Newcastle upon Tyne city centre, in North East England. It has a population of about 12,000 and historically part of Northumberland. It is widely considered to be the most affluent suburb of Newcastle and is home to a large student population.
I’m going to take you on three virtual walks, showing you places in Jesmond where famous writers have lived, or written, or just passed through. If you’re brave enough, you can actually walk these routes – or even better, cycle!
I’ve almost certainly missed things out, or mixed things up – I love to be corrected, so please post responses below!
Walk 1 begins at Jesmond Metro. Walk N along Eskdale Terrace and you’ll see a new block of retirement homes going up on the site of the Central High School, where the young Miriam Stern (later Miriam Stoppard) was educated, and also the hugely popular actress and playwright Esther McCracken.
Turn along Lambton Road with the Royal Grammar School on your L and you’ll reach Brandling Park. Ludwig Wittgenstein stayed at number 28 in 1943-4, while working as part of a team researching “wound shock”, and his presence is commemorated with a plaque.
Cross Clayton Road and a few yards ahead you will reach the West end of Burdon Terrace, named after Sir Thomas Burdon, a major coal-owner whose collieries caused subsidence in much of central Jesmond. His son Richard Burdon-Sanderson erected a dissenting chapel here and wrote numerous tracts on moral and religious subjects.
Go E along Burdon Terrace and look for a second plaque, on the home of Thomas Burt, the first miner-MP and also a prolific author – his books include Howkie Gan Te Parlament.
Now turn L up Tankerville Terrace, past the Newcastle School for Girls (formerly Church High) and Percy Hedley School. On your L is the vast St Andrew’s and Jesmond Cemetery, containing the grave of Eileen Maud Blair, née O’Shaughnessy, who was the first wife of George Orwell. She died at Fernwood House, Clayton Road. The grave was subsequently visited by Orwell himself and later by their adopted son Richard Blair.
Turn back S along Tankerville Terrace, turn L onto Tankerville Place, where Nancy Spain was brought up in the 1920s. She has been described as “the first cross-platform female celebrity” – a prolific novelist, journalist, biographer, radio voice and TV personality, possibly best-known for her appearances on What’s My Line? Her father Lt-Col George Redesdale Brooker Spain was also a lover of books and a prominent local antiquarian.
Follow Otterburn Terrace S to Haldane Terrace, named after Richard Burdon Sanderson Haldane, later Viscount Haldane, a stupendously gifted and learned man who, as Secretary of State for War, founded the Territorial Army. He also visited Oscar Wilde in prison and enabled Wilde to keep a small library in his cell.
Turn L onto Haldane Terrace and immediately R onto Eslington Terrace, named after the Northumberland seat of Henry Thomas Liddell (MP and later Earl of Ravensworth), a major political ally of Sir Thomas Burdon and the author of The Vampire Bride, a wonderfully tacky piece of vampire-porn written in 1833.
The end house on Eslington Terrace was briefly the home of Catherine Cookson on her return, late in life, the North East.
Keep walking S along Eslington Terrace, crossing Clayton Road. On your R are many houses in flats – one of these was home to Tom and Connie Pickard in the 1960s, and here, after a reading at Morden Tower, they entertained Basil Bunting and Allen Ginsberg.
And now we’re back at Jesmond Metro!
You may download this walk as a pdf file by clicking here.
For events, news & offers...
Sign up to our e-newsletter
(You can unsubscribe at any time)