Bull Ring is the name given to the area of Duke Street, just off the New Quay at North Shields. It is known that bull-baiting was carried out there during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and this was evidenced in June 1820 when workmen who were laying gas pipes discovered a large flat stone in which was embedded an iron bolt and ring – a relic of the days when this cruel sport was carried out in the area. The Bull Ring later became the coaching centre for the town, and also the main station for coaches between North Shields and Newcastle.
Castle Park is the name given to a small area immediately to the west of Backworth Village which once incorporated Castle Farm, and now includes a new housing development as well as the localised streets of Killingworth Avenue and Castle Square. The origins of this name are somewhat uncertain, but as the area lay in the old parish of Castle Ward this may have had some bearing.
Charlie’s Garden (sometimes spelled as Charley’s Garden) lies just off Collywell Bay Road in Seaton Sluice and is an isolated sandstone pinnacle which adopted its name from a local villager, Mr Charles Dockwray, who cultivated the top of it prior to the sea eroding the rocks between it and thereby separating it from the mainland.
Chirton: An extract from Mackenzies 1811 book, ‘View of the County of Northumberland’ describes Chirton as follows: ‘A village which is composed of a few neat cottages, which in summer have a romantic and pleasing appearance. It is situated on the west side of the turnpike road leading from Newcastle to Shields, from which latter place it is distant about a mile in a north-west direction. The beautiful and extensive fruit gardens render Chirton a place of fashionable resort during the summer months’.
John Dobson, the great northern architect was born in 1787 at the ‘Pineapple Inn’, Chirton, of which the landlord was Dobson’s father.
Chirton Grange is likely to have taken its name from any one of a number of local farms that were once situated near to Chirton Township. The word ‘Grange’ comes from Middle English, and is defined as an outlying farm with tithe barns or a granary, usually belonging to a monastery or feudal lord.
Churchill Playing Fields: Situated in Monkseaton, the origin of the name is uncertain; however, it may have been given in tribute to Sir Winston Churchill who was Prime Minister during the Second World War.
Coble Dene was originally a pleasant rural retreat where two streams united and entered the Tyne through a wooded ravine. This up-river area would have once provided an element of shelter for fishing cobles, hence the name ‘Coble Dene’. As the River Tyne industries grew, the area eventually developed into the Albert Edward Dock.
by Charlie Steel © 2015
Further reading for many of Charlie’s articles can be found in his books: ‘Monkseaton Village’ (Vol. 1 & 2), North Shields Public Houses, Inns & Taverns’ (Part 1 & 2) and ‘Tynemouth Remembered’ all published by Summerhill Books.