Swalwell

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This page has news of what's happening in Swalwell at present, with items appearing in date order. Older items will eventually be removed.



RECENT NEWS

Some recent news items from Swalwell. Last updated 12 March 2017.

Lidl re-opens.

The new enlarged Lidl store re-opened on 26 January.

Pedalling Squares Cafe extended

The cafe has now been enlarged (23rd May 2016) and the wall dividing the cafe from the mechanic's workshop knocked through to give much more seating.

Lidl closed for rebuilding

Lidl supermarket has closed for rebuilding - re-opening late 2016.

B & Q Closed

B & Q closed its doors on 26th February 2016 after over 30 years in Swalwell.

Scrapyard Gone

Stanley's recycling yard at Long Rigg has moved and the site cleared.

Swalwell Cricket Club finish second

Because swalwell's match with Ponteland was rained off on the last day of the season and Shotley Bridge's game against Lanchester went ahead they were able to overtake Swalwell and win the league. Rain can play a big part in determining the final league table but there is no sign of the rules being changed to prevent this.

Water Main near old Swalwell Bridge

The water main alongside the old bridge is to be re-painted over the next ten weeks or so. It carries water from Benwell/Whittle Dean to Gateshead and was erected about 1896.

Gas Main on old bridge

The old gas main on the east side of the roadway over old Swalwell Bridge has been removed.

Cafe in Swalwell

The Pedalling Squares is a newish cafe in Quality Row off Clavering Road near Millers Bridge catering for cyclists, walkers and others. Open 10.00 to 1800 (2000 on Saturdays). Situated in the former brass works building. There is often live music at weekends. Licensed.

Pub Closures

Bourgognes and Three T are currently closed pubs leaving only the Highlander and The Sun open. Once there were seven......

Bus changes - Winlaton,Blaydon,Metro Centre to and from Gateshead

49 , 49A, 49B sercices now operate via Market Lane and Hollinside Road rather than via Long Rigg, with a stop at Swalwell fire station.

Seven Times Champions!

Swalwell Cricket Club have become league champions for the seventh time in a row, winning the Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League title for 2013. Well Done!

Sun Inn Re-decorated

The Sun Inn has been repainted outside in grey and generally smartened up.

Swalwell Cricket Club

Swalwell cricket club have won the Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League title for the sixth season in a row. Congratulations!

Community Centre Refurbishment

The Community Centre has recently been refurbished, new doors, windows and access ramps.

Dam Head Fish Pass

A fish Pass has been built at the Dam Head, the weir upriver from Swalwell Cricket Club on the River Derwent, sometimes known as The Lady's Steps and once a popular bathing spot. It will enable trout, salmon and eels to pass to spawning grounds higher up the river. The weir was built around 1700 to provide water to power the mill race operating the forge on the site of Swalwell Visitor Centre and the Crowley works at Swalwell.

Blaze At Swalwell Club

On Friday evening 28th October 2011 a fire swept through Swalwell Social Club. Twelve fire crews in attendance. People in nearby houses and businesses were evacuated and roads closed for several hours until the fire was extinguished shortly after 10pm.

Swalwell Cricket Club Win League Title for Fifth Year in Succession

Swalwell cricket club have again won the league title following a closely fought campaign in which Sacriston finished second with Shotley bridge third. The outcome was not settled until the final game when leaders Sacriston were beaten at Percy Main as Swalwell beat Morpeth at home to clinch the title.

Swalwell Club Closed

Swalwell Social Club finally shut its doors on Sunday 11 July 2010 after a long battle against closure.

New Restaurant

As previously reported The Gamekeeper closed and has re-opened as the Jashn restaurant. Recommended.

New Bridge at Derwenthaugh

A new bridge is to be built at Derwenthaugh near the railway bridge as part of the Keelman's way riverside path and cycle route between Newburn and Dunston.

William Shield Plaque

The Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor John Eagle, unveiled a commemorative plaque to William Shield on 15 December 2009. Members of Swalwell and other local history societies attended and local schoolchildren sang Auld Lang Syne in full using the correct lyrics. TV cameras were also there.
An information board about the old factory chimney was recently installed in the Lidl car park.

Buses Change Yet Again (for the worse).

The 97/98 circular service from Newcastle that provided a route between Swalwell Estate, Clavering Road, Metro Centre and Newcastle is now withdrawn (from 25 January 2009) and only goes as far as the Metro Centre where you can change for Newcastle. Unless you have 40 odd minutes to spare in which case you can catch it going the other way and go via Whickham, Fellside Park, Lobley Hill and Gateshead, the great way round. Or buy a ticket to the Metrocentre (1) and another from there to Newcastle (1.90), an expensive trip. Better to go from Swalwell Monument, but it might mean a good walk. Clavering Road was so handy.

Land For Sale

The land opposite Lyndhurst Terrace on Market Lane is advertised as available for development land.

BUS SERVICES 41 and 42 TO DISAPPEAR AGAIN

Bus company Go-Ahead (was ever a name more inappropriate) are once again planning to cut our bus services. The 41 and 42 provide a link between Swalwell and Newcastle running from the Monument along Market Lane through Dunston past the Dun Cow. These services were also cut in August 2004 but after many protests were reinstated in February of the following year. However, there were no evening and weekend services and no direct services to Gateshead as the 648/649 service also lost in 2004 wasn't re-instated.

So again the eastern part of Swalwell is to lose all its direct bus sevices to Dunston, Gateshead and Newcastle, necessitating a long walk down into the village to catch a bus, in the opposite direction you are going, and giving a depressing and unacceptable journey time of half an hour at least for the short 5 mile ride into town or Gateshead (which we are supposed to be part of).

If you want to go out in the evening it becomes a long, possibly cold and wet, and certainly unpleasant journey which you might think twice about making.

A new revamped 97 and 98 service will provide buses running on a circular route to/from Newcastle via Tyne Bridge, Gateshed Town Centre, Whickham, Swalwell Estate, Clavering Road, Metro Centre, Dunston Road, Dun Cow, Derwentwater Road, Redheugh Bridge, Central Station and Grainger Street (service 97) with service 98 running this same route but in reverse. These buses arrive and depart in Newcastle at/from Market Street and there are no services from about 4pm until after 7pm on weekdays during which time the buses terminate at the Metro Centre and do not run between there and Newcastle. This sevice does however maintain a service between Swalwell, Dunston and Newcastle although it omits all Market Lane stops after the fire station which existed with the old service 42 and it takes a rather indirect route via Metro centre and Dunston Road.

In their leaflet the bus company do not offer any explanation for the changes other than that they are 'as a result of revised travel patterns and feedback from passengers'. Oh yeah!. And this; 'Services 41 and 42 will be withdrawn, with services 48 and 49 providing frequent, alternative buses from Swalwell to Blaydon, Winlaton Mill, Metrocentre and Dunston.' This is simply nonsense, these are not alternatives at all. Withdrawing something and replacing it with nothing is not an alternative service. Incidentally, Winlaton Mill will also lose its service along Market Lane. No doubt the old refrain 'poorly used' will be trotted out to those who complain, though I haven't noticed much difference in usage myself, and if poorly used why are double-deckers sometimes used on the service?. What I DID notice is that after the buses were reinstated the last time there were perhaps fewer passengers than before, no doubt after a winter without buses many people got cars, lifts, moved or made alternative arrangements, whose fault was that?

Re-routing buses from Consett and Stanley areas through Swalwell to the Metro Centre and Newcastle has of course also extracted passengers from the 41/42 and old 648/649 services. It seems that everything must run via the Metro Centre. But what has the bus company done to encourage more to travel on the 41 and 42 routes? The electronic displays at Newcastle Eldon Square and Gatesehead Metro don't mention that they go to Swalwell, only services passing Monument are considered to be going to Swalwell, Market Lane doesn't count apparently. What about people who rely on the buses? Not enough of you? Hard Luck! Writing to the bus company the last time the buses went missing I received a reply which ignored all the points I made and when I wrote again I did not even get a reply. The local councillors seem to have already accepted the bus company's argument of 'fewer passengers hence buses better employed on other services', judging by their recent newsletter.

So, what it actually means is: fewer buses, with a longer walk to the bus stop for many, and longer journey times. But don't worry, you have a nice new bus station in Newcastle's Eldon Square, with a bus pass if you are over 60, - but good bus services will be a thing of the past.

THE CHANGES TAKE EFFECT FROM SUNDAY 29 JULY 2007.

The 97/98 service now only runs as far as the Metro Centre unless you choose to go the long way round via Whickham, Lobley Hill and Gateshead Metro - a 40 minute journey.(25 Jan 2009).

WHAT ELSE WE HAVE LOST

Following on from the bus service withdrawals above, let's just look at what Swalwell has lost, say in about the last 50 years. No doctor or dentist. No bank or building society (there was a bank before the war). No Co-op and hence no hardware, clothing, footwear, chemist, or butchers. No Post Office, Police station or railway station.

Hoppings Return To Swalwell

After an absence of about 50 years the Hoppings returned to Swalwell. A fun fair is currently at Blaydon Rugby Club. The old Hopping Field behind Ridley Gardens is now a small housing development. The hoppings stayed for about a week. June 2007

Bus service changes. The timetables for many services, including 41/42 and 648/649 changed from Sunday 3 September 2006. Other services from Newcastle using the Monument changed on 25 February 2007. Please click here for Go North East's website.

Gamekeeper Re-opened

The Gamekeeper has now re=opened and under new management after being closed, re-opened and closed again in the space of a few months. (September 2006). Currently 2015 is the Jashn Indian Restaurant with a good reputation.

Old Fire Station Site

This has now been levelled and grassed over.

Crossing at Cross Lane/Market Lane

Recently road improvements have been made on Market Lane near the Poachers Pocket to make it easier to cross the road coming from Cross Lane. A refuge with Keep Left bollards has been installed.

Metrocentre Railway Station

The improvements to the Metrocentre railway station are now complete, new waiting rooms have been provided and the station generally improved.

Old Fire Station Site's Future

The site of the old fire station in Market Lane is to become part of an extension of Cross Lane Meadows, the grassy area with trees opposite the junction with Clavering Road.

Lidl Supermarket Opens

The new Lidl supermarket opened at Swalwell on Thursday 15 December 2005. A visit at about 1pm found plenty of customers and lots of cars in the car park. The supermarket is laid out in long aisles running the length of the building with check-outs situated near the main road where the entrance is. A new pedestrian, light-controlled crossing has been put in near the Chinese takeaway allowing safe access to the new facility and, incidentally, allowing people to get to the bus stop safely too, on what is a very busy road. The new crossing was built in record time. (15 December 2005) The new supermarket being built for Lidl is now well under way. The walls are complete and the roof went on Sunday 2 October, a crane being used to lift the pre-assembled roof trusses into position. The old brick chimney, a landmark in Swalwell and one of the very few factory chimneys left on Tyneside, has been repaired and re-pointed. The mortar used to re-point the brickwork is of the same type as would have been used originally. Internal works and the car park is under way. The car park is being surfaced, lighting installed and a planted area put in around the chimney area and a footpath link from the main road. The pictures show Bespoke Concrete Products before and after demolition.(3 December 2005)

Swalwell's new Fire Station opens - September 2005

The new Fire and Ambulance station has opened at last and the old one demolished. Building commenced September 2003 and took almost exactly two years to complete.

Details

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THEN AND NOW

Buses, Swalwell to Newcastle- journey times compared. Clayton Street West is used where possible to give a direct comparison of times with the former Marlborough Crescent bus station.

1968 Northern Service 9. Blaydon - Newcastle (Marlborough Crescent) 20 minutes to Newcastle from Monument via Dunston Dun Cow.

Service 117 Northern Service. Winlaton Parkhead - Newcastle (Marlborough Crescent) 17 minutes to Newcastle from Monument via Dunston Cross Keys.

2006 Go North East Service 41/42. Winlaton - Newcastle (Eldon Square) 19 minutes to Newcastle from Monument via Dunston Dun Cow.

1968 Service 89 Northern. Blaydon - Gateshead (Wellington Street) 20 minutes to Newcastle from Monument via Dunston Dun Cow.

2007 Go North East Service 45/46. 19 minutes to Clayton Street West from Monument via Metro Centre.

2007 Go North East Service 48/49. 24/27 minutes to Gateshead Interchange from Monument via Metro Centre.

2007 Go North East Service 43/44. 16 minutes to Clayton Street West from Monument via Metro Centre.

Go North East Service 97. 21 minutes to Bewick Street from Clavering Road via Metro Centre. (runs only to Metro Centre from 2009).

2007 Arriva Service 602. 16 minutes to Clayton Street West from Monument via Metro Centre.

CHANGES

In the last 50 years or so Swalwell has lost most of its industry, all but one of its churches, its old school, many of its pubs, shops and houses, the Post Office, its sports fields and perhaps some of its unique character, but it still remains a distinctive village. The long, steep terraced housing is still there with their rows of chimneys, together with the old river bridges, some of the old Co-op buildings, the Church of England and War Memorial, six pubs and the club and a few more reminders of the past. The pattern of streets as shown on the old maps is still discernible, spreading out from the Town Gate, or the roundabout which has replaced it.

But many of the changes have been for the better and much new housing has replaced the old, though with the loss of some farm land and green space. The Western by-pass has taken a lot of the traffic away from the village but it is gradually returning to its old levels though it has some way to go yet. But the islands in the river near the Hikey Bridge have gone and so has the stream under the Town Gate and the stepping stones at Waterside, the cricket and football fields, Fletchers the printers and Stephen Johnston's and Arthur Kimber's shops, and the Co-op and the Cosy and now the concrete works... the list seems almost endless. No barbers, dentists, station, doctors, bank or building society, few shops, but a betting shop, DIY store, supermarket, community centre, park, new school, and of course the Metro Centre on our doorstep. And also the scrap yard.

Nevertheless, the feeling is, that to many of its newer residents, Swalwell is just a place to live. They don't use its few remaining facilities or get involved in any social activities, join the club, community centre or the cricket or rugby clubs, go to church or know anything about the village and its past. So is Swalwell about to become just a collection of houses, somewhere people just pass through without stopping? Only time will tell.

RECREATION AND CULTURE

There are the sports, the community centre ,the park, some Church activities and a few events organised by the pubs and club, but little else in the way of leisure and culture. Once there was a Women's Institute, evening classes at the school and people once used to gather at the Town Gate to talk, but now there is no real meeting place and the community centre is used by only a small percentage of the population. Yet Swalwell is still a friendly place and lots of people know each other the way they do in a village. Recreation and culture generally means going outside Swalwell, but with Newcastle and Gateshead so near this has never been a problem. It is many years since evening classes were held at the old school and travel to Whickham Comphrehensive is now necessary to further one's education, unless you are prepared to travel further afield. A circus has come to the rugby gound in the last two years.

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SWALWELL TOMORROW

But what of tomorrow?

The new Community Fire Station has opened at the top of Millers Lane. The Barratt housing development on the old Hopping Field behind Ridley Gardens is completed and is called Clavering Court, with a street called Rosebud. (Pity it couldn't have been Hoppings Court). At the Metro Centre, Marks and Spencer's* new Lifestore (home furnishings) opened in February 2004 - and closed in January 2005-and is located just east of the footpath leading past Ellis's old factory down to Derwenthaugh while at the Metro Centre, Debenhams new department store opened on October 6 of that year as part of the new Red Mall together with many other additional shops. Building continues at Derwenthaugh on the site of the Delta works where new office blocks are being constructed and the new bus station and road system at the Metro Centre is now open with a walkway to the railway station provided as before.

Swalwell seems destined to remain a dormitory village, most of its residents working in Newcastle or Gateshead or at one of the new developments on Tyneside, with just a little industry remaining to link with its industrial past. Other local employment is in retailing and other services. The River Derwent gets cleaner by the year, since the closure of the coke works at Winlaton Mill and the steel works at Consett, and the council have improved the area around where Ellis's works were, though unfortunately the two small islands near the Hikey bridge have gone. They have also given us the popular Derwent Park on the site of the coke works. The old Swalwell to Blackhill railway trackbed is the Derwent Walk and there is a new cricket ground, and a new junior football club has appeared. There is a possibility that Blaydon Rugby Club may re-locate to the old Comprehensive School playing fields area. But perhaps the biggest physical change of all is the disappearance of the space between Swalwell and Whickham, with houses now stretching all the way up the hill between the Coally Wells and Whickham Bank where once were fields. But this development has thankfully not been repeated in other directions and we are still separated from Dunston to the east and Blaydon to the west and of course from Newcastle to the north by the River Tyne. Swalwellers have always felt themselves as being distinct from Whickham anyway, and that former village is now a town with lots of its residents hailing from elsewhere. Swalwell is likely to remain a village with its own identity into the foreseeable future.

Derwenthaugh has undergone an almost complete transformation with only the railway bridge, the Skiff Inn and remnants of the staiths left to remind us of the hive of industry it once was. The former wasteland to the north of Swalwell has changed out of all recognition with the coming of the Metro Centre which necessitated draining the Twelve Score, (part of the water-logged area between Swalwell and the railway) see picture, right, and the new river crossing to carry traffic from Scotswood Bridge to Dunston and beyond. There are new developments near the railway line, two hotels and fast food outlets and extensions to the Metro Centre. The NCB railway sidings that once extended from Derwenthaugh to the allotments have completely gone and horses graze there within sight of the old Consett railway embankment, part of which forms the alignment of the Western By Pass on its way to the new Blaydon Bridge. The complicated series of railway junctions at Derwenthaugh has almost gone and passenger trains speed past en route to Hexham and Carlisle with only the remains of a stone bridge pointing to the existence of a link to the former Swalwell and Consett line.

Some large houses were built on the south side of Market Lane about 1924, with Shield, Enfield and Colbeck Avenues following in the Thirties, together with the Methodist Church. The fields east of the Greenfield Estate where children once picked potatoes are now covered with housing, but opposite there is still the footpath across the fields leading to Dunston via what used to be the power station road, past the brewery. A few houses were built at the top of Grosvenor Avenue in the 1990's and the old cricket and football fields and the Hopping field have now been covered with new houses.

The population has grown steadily in the last forty years. There are lots of new residents who have little or no connection with Swalwell, but also many of the old families who still remain, and if their children do move away when they grow up it is often to another local village or to Newcastle or Gateshead, though of course some have moved right away or even abroad. You do not hear many 'foreign'; that is, non-local, accents in Swalwell, newcomers mostly coming from elsewhere in the north east.

Perhaps there will be more new housing on the rugby ground if the club moves and maybe the land next to the new fire station in Market Lane will be built on, giving a further increase in population. Small businesses continue to come and go and old buildings find new uses.

The fact that there are only five shops remaining, excluding motor parts shops and B & Q, and that once there was a bank, a railway station, a dentists, a doctors, a big Co-op and you could buy most common things locally is surprising, even allowing for the fact that most shopping now is done in supermarkets and large shopping centres. Swalwell is worse off than most and has lost more of the facilities and amenities that we once took for granted.

No doubt many will miss some of the old features of Swalwell, but a lot of the old families and long-time residents of the village remain and can tell of times past and produce photographs to remind us of what it was once like.

That is Swalwell - Today and Yesterday.
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