Percy Gardens consists of a sweeping crescent of large Victorian houses on Tynemouth Seafront overlooking the North Sea and commanding spectacular views of Tynemouth Priory and Cliffs, King Edward’s Bay and the North Pier.
During the 1800s, when the railway came to Tynemouth and connected a link to Newcastle, the residential popularity of the area began to grow and so plans were laid out by the Duke of Northumberland for a number of housing developments. Perhaps one of the most outstanding of these was that of Percy Gardens, which lies on the northern edge of the village.
Named after Algernon Percy, the 6th Duke of Northumberland, the street consists of a number of large residential houses with communal gardens which were once accessed by private gated driveways at each end of the road. The gardens are situated on the seaward side of the street, roughly in the shape of an oval.
These gardens were originally laid out for the benefit of residents and occupiers and over the years have encompassed a bowling green, a putting green, a croquet lawn, tennis courts, leisure areas, rockeries and flower beds.
A gardener’s lodge was constructed next to the southern entrance to the street and the first live-in gardener was appointed in 1881.
Responsibility for the upkeep of the lodge, road and gardens rested with each of the house owners. This involved a system of annual levies which was established under a covenant dated 1880 to meet this obligation and still remains in operation today.
Many of the first owners were recorded as wealthy men with distinguished occupations, which included ship owners, surgeons, lawyers, merchants, engineers, coal exporters and many others with similar professional vocations, some of whom played prominent roles in local affairs.
The sheer size of these houses dictated that nearly all households employed a number of maids and servants, and houses often remained in the same family for a number of generations.
As lifestyles changed many of the houses were converted into flats during the 1960s and 1970s, which virtually trebled the number of individual dwellings. A few houses however still remain complete and intact, and most have retained their historical Victorian features such as sandstone carved porticos, intricate corniced ceilings and mosaic tiled entrance halls.
It is a common belief that the modern block of flats called Priory Court at the southern end of the crescent was built on the site of houses which had been destroyed in a bombing raid. However, this is not the case; for some reason, this particular plot had remained vacant since the original development.
by Charlie Steel © 2013
His published books include ‘Monkseaton Village Vol. 1’ and ‘Monkseaton Village Vol. 2’, both of which are available from most local booksellers.