Ward’s Directory of Newcastle for 1893-4 records that Tankerville Terrace, Jesmond, contained 16 properties, 15 of which were residential dwellings. The 16th property, recorded in the name of Miss C. Ackerley, Schoolmistress, is “Newcastle High School for Girls.”
The Newcastle High School was founded in 1884 when the Church Schools Company received a request from Newcastle to establish a school in the city ‘of much the same type as the G.P.D.S.T schools but in which definite Church teaching should be given’ as The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School Jubliee Book covering the years 1885-1935 makes clear. This first school history also tells us that ‘On May 29th, 1884, the Council of the Church Schools Company resolved “it is desirable to establish a High School for Girls at Newcastle.”
The decision was taken to purchase a small but flourishing private school in Jesmond Road as the nucleus of their new Newcastle school. This thriving private school, originally owned by a Miss Hewison, was chosen because it had an excellent reputation in the city and so ‘on October 10th, 1884, an agreement for the purchase of the goodwill of the school was drawn up. The school was to be carried on in the same buildings, numbers 54, 56, 58 and 60 Jesmond Road, and it was arranged that Miss Hewison should stay on as House and Music Mistress and that some other members of the staff should be retained.
‘Fifty-nine girls were entered for the first term to start in the January of 1885 and on Wednesday, the 21st January, the school was formally opened under the name “The Newcastle High School.” Canon Holland, representing the Church Schools Company at the opening service in Jesmond Parish Church, stated that ‘the Newcastle school stood first in the interest of all the Company’s schools, for it was founded on an already good school ….. and promised on behalf of the Company that if the numbers increased the school should have new buildings.
‘By the end of 1886 the numbers in the school had reached 80 and negotiations were begun for the purchase of a new site. Early in 1887 the present site in Tankerville Terrace was secured, but for some now undiscoverable reason, building was not immediately begun ….. It was not until a year later, June 1888, that Messrs. Oliver & Leeson were appointed architects, and their plans were approved shortly afterwards’.
The Venerable Archdeacon Emery of the Church Schools Company formally laid a dedication stone on May 23rd, 1889. Initially positioned to the left of the side door, traditionally the pupils’ entrance (see photograph below), it now sits to the left of the main entrance.
On May 3rd, 1890, the new purpose-built school was opened by Miss Helen Gladstone, Prime Minister Gladstone’s daughter.
The building originally featured a bell tower at its very centre; sadly, in later years, the tower was demolished after falling into disrepair.
Interestingly in 1886, according to Olive Carter’s History of Gateshead High School & Central Newcastle High School, the G.P.D.S.T made an ‘offer to buy the Church Schools Company’s building to use for its own new school; the offer was refused.’ And ‘later, in 1910, the name of Central was altered to “The Girls’ High School, Newcastle upon Tyne”; but a year later it not unnaturally had to revert to the original as a result of objections by the Church Schools Company.’ Strange to think the two schools could possibly have become one right at the very start.
Until the middle of the 19th Century, Jesmond was mainly an agricultural and coal-mining area and so the land secured by the Church Schools Company as the site for the new Newcastle High School was once crop land. By 1631, it can be traced to one of three common fields, the North Field, which roughly extended from St George’s Church to Brandling Park. From Alan Morgan’s book Jesmond from mines to mansions, we learn that each of these fields was divided up into half-acre strips or rigs, then consolidated into larger units of land known as ‘flats’ and ultimately into fenced fields. These common fields all had local names. According to the 1902 plan of Jesmond field names published in Frederick Walter Dendy’s An Account of Jesmond, 1904, the land on which the Victorian Senior School was built was part of South Pigs Close. The modern Junior School would later be built on adjoining North Pigs Close and the residential houses (Tankerville & Westward) the School purchased on Tankerville Terrace, on the more whimsically-named Long Friday.
By 1800, this land was owned by John Blenkinsop Coulson, the largest of three chief landowners in the area. At this date, there were in the region of 80 named fields in Jesmond, which was by now divided into five farms. Our land was almost certainly part of Friday Farm. Its buildings were situated near the present day junction of Haldane and Otterburn Terraces. Alan Morgan’s book reproduces Thomas Oliver’s slightly later 1844 map of Jesmond Township (on page 12) which shows Friday Farm as the building to the left of Burdon Place in the lower left-hand section of the very small segment shown here.
From Alan Morgan’s book we also learn that there were five recognised footpaths in the township at this time, what we now know as Tankerville Terrace once comprising the lower part of one of them, Friday Fields Lane. Also known as the Lovers’ Walk, Friday Fields Lane ‘branched east from the Great North Road near to the coal staiths [just north of Brandling Village] to follow present day Burdon Terrace, then headed north along Tankerville Terrace (past Friday Farm), St George’s Terrace and North Jesmond Avenue to Jesmond Dene Road.’
However, mixed within those original fields c. 1800 were rigs bordering the Town Moor from Barras Bridge to St. Andrew’s Cemetery and extending eastward which were leased to tenants, but actually belonged to the St. Mary Magdalene Hospital, originally founded in the 12th Century for the sufferers of leprosy. By 1813, these rigs had been partitioned off and re-apportioned to the Hospital, along with others to the Corporation of Newcastle, Robert Warwick and Sir Thomas Burdon. Thanks to the land award of Robert Hopper Williamson dated 6th November, 1813, we know that Pigs Close was amongst the lands now considered the property of the Hospital (F.W. Dendy, p 153). The St. Mary Magdalene Trust thus became owners of valuable land within the township of Jesmond. We know from papers in Tyne & Wear Archives pertaining to the building of Church High’s Junior School that this land belonged to the Magdalene Trust. A land map of owner’s names drawn up by T.W. Bell in 1847 (p 176, Dendy) makes it clear the whole School was built on Magdalene Trust land. Bell’s map (below) also shows that the land on which Tankerville Terrace was built belonged to a Mrs J. Cleugh.
Jane Cleugh owned 21 acres of land in total. Widow of Mr Thomas Cleugh, last owner of Friday Farm, she sold both farm & lands (“The Fridays”) in the 1870s to Richard Burdon Sanderson II, a direct descendant of Sir Thomas Burdon, who lived at Jesmond Towers. From F.W. Dendy, we know that ‘Richard Burdon Sanderson II, who had purchased Miss Cleugh’s land near what was formerly Friday Farm, re-sold it and a parcel of his own land for the building sites on which Haldane Terrace, Burdon Terrace and Tankerville Terrace were built.’
Moving forward to the 20th Century once again, in the accompanying editorial commentary to the 1913 Old Ordnance Survey map of Jesmond published in December 2014, Alan Godfrey includes the following account of the Newcastle High School building’s history. The details clearly bring to mind two well-known old adages: ‘The only constant in life is change’ & ‘Everything comes full-circle’.
Godfrey writes: “Jesmond’s first purpose-built school, the High School for Girls, was opened in 1890 in Tankerville Terrace, a development of a school set up in Jesmond Road by the Church Schools Co. in 1885.
It was designed by the Newcastle architects Oliver & Leeson, the ornate cupola and Flemish gables giving it the bravado of the Moor Edge institutions [Fleming Memorial Hospital for Sick Children, Northern Counties Orphanage and Northern Counties Deaf & Dumb Institution]. Boarders lived at The Grove, where there was also space for playing fields.
In the 1920s the school became independent and was renamed the Newcastle Upon Tyne Church High School, or ‘Church High’. There were extensions across the years, [most notably the Infant and Junior School buildings opened in 1975 financed by the sale of The Grove playing fields on Reid Park Road], and in 2014 the school merged with the Central Newcastle High School to form Newcastle High School for Girls.”
The Church High Junior School extension was built on land which had once served as the Northern Counties Orphanage gardens.
The southern section of the Northern Counties Orphanage (the Philipson Memorial Orphan Asylum for boys) had by that time become the Princess Mary Maternity Hospital, the place where I was later to enter the world. Thus began my connection with Tankerville Terrace later reaffirmed, as fate would have it, by a happy and fulfilling 29 year teaching career at Newcastle Church High School.
I joined Church High as a teacher of English in September 1985, which turned out to be the School’s centenary year. Sadly, I missed the main celebrations which all took place in the second half of the previous academic year. However, I clearly remember an excited buzz about the place when I arrived for my interview in May – one of the reasons I was so pleased when my application was successful. In my time there, the old High School building was extended on two further occasions, either side of The Millennium, before merger was to change its administrative history once again. This blog records the physical changes to the Tankerville site in preparation for its reopening as Newcastle High School for Girls in September 2016.
In 1984 to mark the Centenary, Kevin Brown was commissioned to research and write an updated School History and to catalogue the School Archives. The former was published as part of The Centenary Book of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Church High School, 1885-1985 compiled by Helen Scott and Elizabeth Wise; after cataloguing, the latter were deposited with Tyne & Wear Archives.
Anyone wishing to view the Newcastle High/Church High School Archive for themselves can do so between 10.00am and 4.00pm, Tuesday to Friday at The Discovery Museum. The archive catalogue (Reference E.NC17) can be accessed in person or online. Following my deposit of documents on the final year of Church High and the transition to Newcastle High School for Girls, the catalogue has recently been updated to list accessions related to Newcastle High School (1885-1924) and The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School the School up to 2014. Although this updated catalogue is not yet available online, it can be viewed via the Heritage website.
- Abstract of Title to a farm and lands called “The Fridays” in the township of Jesmond within the Borough & County of Newcastle upon Tyne belonging to the Devisees of Tho. Cleugh deceased, J. & R.S. Watson & Dendy, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1880
- An Account of Jesmond, Frederick Walter Dendy, R. Robinson & Company Ltd, Printers & Publishers, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1904
- Jesmond from mines to mansions, Alan Morgan, Tyne Bridge Publishing, Newcastle Libraries, 2010
- Bygone Jesmond, Jimmy Donald, Newcastle Libraries and Arts, 1987
- Old Ordnance Survey Maps of Tyneside and Wearside: Jesmond 1895, Tyneside Sheet 4, Alan Godfrey Maps
- Old Ordnance Survey Maps of Tyneside and Wearside: Jesmond 1913, Tyneside Sheet 5, Alan Godfrey Maps
- Google Earth, 2014 and 2016
- A History of the Church Schools Company 1883-1958, E. Moberly Bell, S.P.C.K. 1958
- The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School Jubilee Book, 1885-1935, A.C. and F.M. [Alex Cowey and Florence MacKenzie], 1935
- The Centenary Book of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Church High School, 1885-1985, compiled by Helen Scott and Elizabeth Wise, 1984
- The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School Prospectus, 1985
- Own records and photographs as Editor of The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School Senior Magazine, 1986-2014
- History of Gateshead High School and Central Newcastle High School, Olive Carter, 1955