Swalwell School

Buildings 2

Another page devoted to some of Swalwell's buildings.


The present building was opened in June 1939 replacing an earlier club, see picture, opposite on Brewery Bank (formerly Beggar's Bank), which was on the site of the old Matthew Taylor brewery. An even earlier club was in the White House at the bottom of Whickham Bank, in use from the club's foundation in 1902 until about 1911. The club has been affiliated to the CIU (Club and Institute Union) since 1905 until its closure in 2010.

Access to the club required membership, although guests could be admitted at the club's discretion and had to be signed in by a member. Lady Members were a later innovation. Members subscriptions were payable around Christmas time. In common with all such clubs the members elected a committee annually to run the club, who then met weekly on Sundays. There were 16 committee members serving between 1904 and 1954 including the President, Secretary and Treasurer. An annual general meeting was also held, open to all members. A steward was responsible for day to day running of the club, managing the bar staff and cleaners, and was responsible to the committee. Besides the bars the club would of course, also hire various artistes to provide entertainment for members and their guests. Another feature of Swalwell Club was the annual trip to the coast at Whitley Bay/Tynemouth when a special train would run from Swalwell station and the village was all but deserted. On 1 August 1936 the tickets were: adult 6d (two and a half pence) and children 3d, although these fares were subsidised by the club. The club was a founder member of the Federation Brewery.

Some information about the club recorded in the minutes of the committee meetings, see picture of club committee, right, over the years is given below.

Pre-decimilisation equivalents for those who can't recall the currency before 15 February 1971 when we used Pounds, Shillings and Pence:( S D). 100p=240 old pence =20 shillings=1. Thus 6 pence (6d)=two and a half pence, 1 shilling= 5p, 2 shillings=10p, 3 shillings=15p and so on.

Beer was supplied by various breweries until the formation of the Northern Club's Federation Brewery in 1921 to provide beer at a cheap price to the clubs and give regular supplies, although other breweries' products were still sold. Typical Income and expenditure figures are shown for one week in January 1926.

A list of various items from the minute books over the years are shown by kind permission of the Club.

  • Steward's wages - 6.0s 0d, Charwoman - 1.5s.0d, Coals and sticks - 1.7s 0d, Refreshment - 118.16s.6d, Visitors - 0.2s.9d, - Subs - 9.12s.0d, Rent - 0.9s.0d.
  • Before the war in 1914 the steward got 2 .7s 0d, the charwoman ten shillings per week and refreshment receipts were 26. 2s.10d.
  • Near Armistice night 16 November 1918, receipts were 111.7s.0d, up from 96.10s.0d the previous week.
  • In 1935 the stewards weekly wage was now just 5.0s.0d, although the charwoman was then getting 1.15s.0d, but refreshment receipts were reduced to only 67. 7s.7d, perhaps reflecting the effects of the Depression and the reduction in Swalwell's industries by then.
  • A pianist's fee in 1930 was ten shillings (50p) for the night and insurance for the club buildings in 1937 was 1. 11s.0d at Lloyds. The insurance company's were often changed.
  • A death benefit of 2. 0s.0d was paid to members but it is noted in the minutes that this was cancelled from November 1939 until further notice.
  • Up to 24 June 1939, when the new club was opened on its present site, non-members residing in Swalwell were allowed to come and see the new premises. The official opening day was 19 May 1939 and a few days before opening the committee were asked to assist with the removal of chairs, tables, etc. from the old club across the road. A notice was placed on the notice board asking for 6 unemployed men to volunteer to help with the removal of billiard tables.
  • 30 May 1942. A burglary took place during the night, the police were called and an insurance claim for damage was made, 3.10s 0d being missing.
  • On VE Day May 1945 members were entitled to 6 free pints. A committee minute of August 1945 records that owing to a large number of members entering the club after the closing of public houses, it was moved that the bar of the club be closed at 9.30 PM except Saturdays and Sundays but premises to remain open till 10 PM The motion was carried.
  • There were problems with beer supplies around this time. Another minute notes that the engagement of the concert party on 12 August 1945 be cancelled due to shortage of ale. Approved. And again on 29 December 1946 'that no visitors allowed due to low ale stocks'. A meeting was called on 31 December 1946 to discuss the low stock of ales.
  • On 27 June 1948 a bus trip for aged members and their wives to South Shields was agreed, costs to be met from A.M. fund, and, Pale Ale to be reduced in cost to 9d per pint, but an amendment to this motion proposed that 3 free pints per member be granted. The original motion was carried.
  • 15 July 1949. British Railways trip to the coast, tickets to be sold at 1/6 (8p) Adults and 9d (4p)Child. 5 shillings (25p) to be granted to each member for lunch and tea. A payment of 1 was made to a person for cleaning out the spittoons.
  • 30 December 1949. Doorkeeper hit in face by Miss X while she was banned. Payments were made to: Whitbread and co. 34.10s.0d, Northern clubs federation brewery 1360 and Robert Sinclair Tobacco Co 3104, Crawford's (Jes-Dene) Ltd.30 for mineral waters, Wm. McEwan 34 for bottled ale and Northern Wine Traders Ltd for spirits, ale and bottled ales 750.
  • In 1949 another burglary occurred. On 13 July 1958 an Officer from Durham County Constabulary visited the club to check the security of the premises.
  • 25 September 1949. J Pike wrote to say he would be in the district in November to give exhibition games of darts if the club wished to be entertained. Moved to accept offer.
  • 16 July 1950. A chrysanthemum show to be held. 24 library books payment of 2.14s.0d approved.
  • 26 May 1957. A leek show was to be held.
  • 22 June 1958. Annual train trip. Letter from Station Master at Rowlands Gill read giving times for trip on 26 July. Fares 3/3 (16p) Adult and 1/8 (8p) Child. Club charged 1/6 and 9d to members. 1 June 1958. Removal of beer engines in bar discussed. Resolved to take no further action at present.
  • 14 May 1950. A donation of 5.5s.0d was made to Swalwell Crowley A.F.C. Donations were occasionally made to charities, and others e.g. the Red Cross, the Institute For The Blind and the British Sailors Society received donations during the war.
  • Membership was stated to be 1200 at one time.
Back to top of page


The picture shows a typical pub pre-war interior at the Highlander.The sign on the wall is a Vaux brewery price list. Note the gas lamps. Mr William Gillender (Junior) and William (Senior) are behind the bar. The Angel, an old coaching inn, is easily Swalwell's earliest known former inn. (See below).

Old and new

In the 1960s Swalwell had seven pubs, but the Elephant was closed in March 1964 and demolished in 1967 when the road layout was altered at the bottom of Whickham Bank. The Seven Stars was demolished in the early 1970s for road improvements together with adjoining property, where once stood Arthur Kimbers shop, the 'top' fish and chip shop, the Cosy cinema and a chemist's shop. The Three Tuns, opened in 1896 but with later alterations, also called Cross House, where three roads plus the Keelman's bridge met, has been reborn as the Three T bar after closing for alterations and refurbishment in 2002. It was reported in 1896 that in the 19th century when wherry's (small boats used to bring cargoes up river) came up to Swalwell bringing iron ore for Crowley's iron works, there were 27 pubs in Swalwell, all doing a roaring trade. Until 1869, in addition to public houses there were also beerhouses, where any ratepayer could sell beer on his own premises without the need for a magistrate's licence, so maybe some of the 27 pubs were just beerhouses. The Ordnance survey 1st edition 25 inch map of 1865 shows the Elephant, Buck, Rose and Crown, New Inn, Queens Head, Seven Stars, Nags Head and the Wherry, all in the village centre. Other recently existing pubs, going from west to east. are the Gamekeeper (originally the Buck Inn, then The Station and The Poacher and now Jashn restaurant), Bourgognes (formerly the Queens Head), The Highlander, Swalwell Social Club (closed 2010), The Three T, The Sun and The Poacher's Pocket (formerly The Crowley). Currently (Spring 2015) only The Highlander and The Sun are open. Bourgognes and the Three T are closed.There is also the Skiff Inn at Derwenthaugh which was rebuilt in 1938 around an older pub of the same name, but originally called the Half Moon, and which has undergone recent improvements including the rebuilding of the conservatory. Brewster's Travel Inn (now Taybarns 2010) is a new inn on Derwenthaugh Road and was opened in 1996, see picture.

There is also The Highlander and The Sun, the latter being known locally as the 'Maids' because before the last war two old maids were employed there. It has proved impossible to trace their names, but their surname was probably Carr. Another possibility has come to light. The 1911 census shows three people living at the Sun Inn. May Gregory, aged 38, hotel keeper and also Frances Gregory, sister, age 38, asssistant and Emily Hartley Gregory, niece, aged 20, assistant. May was York-born, the other two ladies are noted as Manchester-born. The sister and the niece may have been the two 'maids'.The Sun was erected in 1895 as shown by an inscribed stone set high up on the wall. At one time The Sun used to have Swalwell's only neon sign, the Blue Star sign of the Newcastle Breweries, which shone over Swalwell some time in the 1950s. The old Crowley was in Hexham Road (closed 1940s) where MacGuire's fish and chip shop is now, after becoming an industrial chemist and later Parker's electrical. The Clavering, known as the Crows Nest (demolished by the 1920s when the road was re-routed for the new bridge), was on the Avenue near where Blaydon Rugby Club building is now, and the Wherry Inn was next to the Sun on Long Rigg, (once called Long Ridge), and closed in 1929. The Nags Head was yet another pub in that area, on the west side of Long Rigg. Finally, a pub existed at Derwenthaugh near the Delta Works by the railway bridge called the Hope and Anchor, and another south of the Skiff called the Black Bull. On an old map dated 1858 the following pubs are shown; The Clavering Arms, The Elephant, The Nag's Head; an unnamed pub next door; The Seven Stars and The Buck. A mention is made in a newspaper of a pub called the Rose and Crown, where apparently the first recorded leek show was held in 1846. And the 1891 census shows the existence of a pub called the Blair Athol in Swalwell.

A Micropub named 'O'wa The Road' opened in 2018 in Market Lane across the road from the Sun, hence the name. No children, juke box, TV or fruit machine, just beer, gin etc and chat. The pub had over 50 different gins and some ciders. There were four real ales, constantly changing, some were off the wood. The pub unfortunately closed on Friday December 22nd 2023, see picture.

Click here for pubs slideshow

Back to top of page

Breweries and beers:

The 'new' Crowley, now the Poacher's Pocket, was originally a Rowell's Brewery (Gateshead) pub, but on that brewery being taken over and closed by The Newcastle Breweries it then became a Blue Star house. Strictly speaking it is just outside the Swalwell parish boundary, beyond Cross Lane. In the 1950s the Queens Head, Highlander, Seven Stars and The Sun were Newcastle Brewery pubs, while the Elephant was McEwans/Youngers as was the Three Tuns. These last mentioned breweries merged to become Scottish and Newcastle breweries. The Station was a Vaux pub until that brewery closed. An old photograph dated 1930 shows that the Highlander sold Lochside Ales. The same photo also shows a calendar advertising Aitchisons Ales. Another photograph of the exterior shows advertising for Duddingston's Ales, Bass and Aitchison's and that it was a free house. At that time there was an entrance in the middle of the bow front, not at the side. The Highlander site was once the stables for the Angel Inn. Licensees sometimes moved from pub to pub as did the Gillenders when they moved from the old Crowley to the Highlander before the last war.

Register of Licenses held by Blaydon Magistrates until 1963

The Queens Head - 1914-1963

Newcastle Brewery.

The Station Hotel

Originally owned by Ridley, Butter and Firth, taken over by Vaux Breweries 12 March 1956.

Henry Lockey
Eve Lockey
William Dowell
Thomas Clark
John A Wilson
Reed A. Oliver
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
6 September 1924
10 April 1924
22 October 1925
3 November 1962
22 November 1962
Grey T Henderson
Margaret Grey
Tysen Morrison
Sarah A Charlton
(Resident Manageress)
Robert W Charlton
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
10 July 1919
5 July 1945
6 March 1947

3 February 1949

The Three Tuns

William Allan, Prudhoe Street, Newcastle owned this pub until 1935. Edward John Wilkinson, Fine St Brewery, 29 January 1955 Hope and Anchor Breweries.

The Elephant

William Younger and Co. Brewery, 3 April 1959, Scottish and Newcastle Breweries

John Scott
James Shaw
William Allan
Harry Pike
Thomas Dowdon
Ed R. Wilkinson
Mary A. Histon
William Costello
John Cookson
Percy Buglass
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
31 May 1923
8 November 1923
5 March 1925
30 August 1928
6 March 1941
6 November 1947
12 May 1949
12 June 1958
5 February 1959
James Smailes
Robert Wilson
Elizabeth L. Wilson
Mavis Prior
Stanley Smith
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
12 July 1923
7 May 1959
3 January 1962
12 December 1963

The Crowley

John Rowell and Son Ltd, Gateshead Brewers.

The Sun Inn

M Wood and Sons Ltd, South Shields Brewers, 19 February 1920, Newcastle Brewery

Charles W. Soulsby
George G. Graham
William Gillender
George G Graham
Ernest J. Douglas
Robert Burn
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
6 January 1916
2 October 1921
2 February 1928
9 October 1930
28 May 1931
Mary J. Sheperdson
Maurice J. Foley
John W Carr
William J. Hartnell
J J. Dixon
Albert Dixon
Thomas Shipley
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
9 December 1926
11 October 1928
7 February 1935
7 November 1935
7 December 1944
3 September 1953

The Highlander

Original owner, Isobella Danby, 6 March 1947, Newcastle Brewery.

The Wherry

Newcastle Breweries Ltd. Licence expired 18 June 1934.

Stephen Freick
Marie I. Freick
William J. Gillender
Arthur Hadley
William Young
John F. Barrass
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
7 September 1916
8 December 1927
8 December 1932
10 January 1935
1 March 1951
Mary A. Myers
Edward Myers
Edith Swinburn
William J. Hancill
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
6 September 1917
4 October 1923
10 April 1924

The Seven Stars

John Rowell and Son Ltd, Gateshead Brewers. 7 June 1961, Newcastle Breweries.

The Clavering Arms

J W. Napier, Clavering, Axwell Park

William B. Dodd
Robert Burn
Alfred Milburn
Norman Thompson

Back to top of page
Date of Licence
5 February 1914
8 november 1923
2 March 1944
21 July 1960
Vincent Shotton

(Only records available)
Date of Licence
5 February 1914


Some views of Swalwell as it used to be. The streets change slowly over time, and it is easy to forget what they once looked like. Shops change ownership, lighting and road layouts and markings are altered and some buildings are demolished while others spring up. New styles of cars, vans, lorries and buses are introduced and fashions change, so that after the passage of 50 years everything appears different, but in fact much remains familiar.It is the north and west sides of swalwell that have changed most, the railway has gone, a housing estate stands on the cricket pitch, the site of Crowley's works, later the concrete works is now a supermarket, and the Keelman's Bridge, the Town Gate and most of the gardens, together with the Seven Stars, part of the Co-op and the adjoining shops and Fletcher's have all gone too.


The Angel Inn in Hexham Road is the oldest building in Swalwell. It dates from 1640 and was formerly a stop on the coach route to Hexham. The bay windows upstairs were a later addition by Mrs Holm, a former owner. The first floor was used as a surgery in 1900. Since the war it has been a Post Office, antique shop, Angel Aromatherapy and a guest house, and the Angel Tea Rooms.


Old Swalwell Bridge

Built by the Clavering family on the site of Selby's ford sometime after 1760, possibly 1779, to give access to Axwell Hall. This bridge, (see picture left), carried the main turnpike road to Hexham over the Derwent until it became inadequate for the traffic (it is only 16 feet wide) and was replaced by a new Swalwell bridge 100 yards to the west in 1927. It is 46 metres (150 feet) long with three arches and a pointed cutwater (to break up and divert floodwaters and debris). There is also an aqueduct (a stone and iron structure) built in the late 19th century which carried a cast iron/steel water pipe (still in use) over the Derwent next to the older bridge. There was also a toll house on the south side of the old bridge and a smithy to the north. The toll house, known as Bridge End Cottage, is still inhabited and is the second oldest building in Swalwell (after the Angel). The date 1760 appears on the wall. Another bridge was at the bottom of Whickham Bank called the Square Bridge and carried the road over the mill race used by the Crowley Works. The row of cottages next to it was Bridge Row. The old 18th century bridge is still used to gain access to business premises on the north side of the river and to connect with the foot and cycle path on the old railway track from the former coke works at Winlaton Mill which runs down to Derwenthaugh. Swalwell Bridge was the only bridge on the Derwent to survive the 1771 floods and is Grade Two listed. When the new Swalwell Bridge was built in 1927 the main road was re-aligned slightly to the west where it linked with three other roads at the crossroads which eventually became Swalwell roundabout.

Swalwell Bridge

The 'new' Swalwell bridge was opened in 1927 and is a much wider bridge suitable for the increased traffic of the time. The bridge is of steel, resting on stone pillars and with distinctive iron balustrades, painted green. Its appearance bears a striking resemblance to other Durham County Council bridges at Croxdale and the Lambton Road bridge at Chester-le-Street on the A183.


The Gateshead to Hexham turnpike originally ran through Lobley Hill and Whickham, reaching Swalwell via Whickham Bank, continuing along the old road to Swalwell Bridge and thence to Blaydon. There were toll bars at various points on the road and one was situated at the top of Whickham Bank near the junction with Fellside Road. This meant the payment of a full toll of one and sixpence per ton on all goods taken from Swalwell repository for pulling only 1236 yards and a proposal to adjust the toll according to the length of road on which traders had to travel was made. However, an alternative plan was to build a new turnpike running across the River Team at Low Team and continuing through Dunston to Swalwell, cutting the distance of 4 miles 7 furlongs from Gateshead to Swalwell by 1 mile and 28 yards, avoiding the steep hill and payment of the toll at the top of Whickham Bank. This plan was adopted and the road was built which still follows the same line between the Teams and Swalwell today. There was a toll bar at Low Team, the toll collection points having houses, others being at High Team and Swalwell Bridge, Crawcrook and Branch End and Farnley on the road to Hexham.The original act for the Turnpike was dated 1776, although the document from which these facts were obtained does not make this clear. The revenue from the turnpike tolls in 1836 was 919 11 shillings and 10 pence (919.60p), total income being 1011, nineteen shillings and one halfpenny (1011.95p).

Hikey Bridge

The Hikey Bridge, a steel suspension bridge, was erected in 1903 to give access to the allotments, known locally as ' the gardens', and was built by D Rowell of Willesden, London. It is suspended on wire ropes slung from steel towers with a span of 37metres (121feet) and has a timber deck with a width of 1.5 metres (5 feet). It gets its name from the old local dialect word 'hike' - to swing. The stone abutment remains of an earlier bridge are visible nearby, downstream of the Hikey.

Railway Bridge

The railway bridge was built for the North Eastern Railway between 1865 and 1867 and widened for double track between 1905 and 1908. It is of stone with three arches and is now disused, although it can still be crossed on foot.

Swalwell Roundabout

What is now Swalwell roundabout was originally just a cross roads, see picture, with no roundabout in the middle. After the war a large roundabout was built but this was eventually reduced in size. Swalwell roundabout has long been the meeting place for cyclists on their Sunday runs and once there was a seat (just visible in enlarged photograph) on the southwest corner where you could sit and watch the world go by. It was less busy in those days.

Back to top of page