November 1893 - The School is Opening

November 1893 - The School is Opening
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November 1893 - The School is Opening

By Gwen Usher

Gwen thinks back to her grandfather’s time in the East end of Newcastle as the area developed and Chillingham Road School was built.  


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November 1893 - The School is Opening

By Gwen Usher

My name is Gwen Usher, Chillingham Road School one hundred years old!

What was it Like Then? I really cannot imagine.

I always thought of it as that old school on a very busy Chilly Road that all my fathers’ family went to in the late 18 and 19 hundreds.

To see the green fields disappear and rows of terrace houses and a big new red brick School with tall chimneys rise out of the spare ground in November 1894 must have been a big taking point in those late Victorian days.

This new area of Newcastle was growing as the railway came and Charles Parsons Engineering works had opened…People need somewhere to live.

My Grandfather Isaac Gilhome had a butcher shops in the east End and he must have thought “what a good idea, we will move to 35 Tenth avenue with our two children Dorothy and Sarah Elizabeth, it will be better for work and a new school nearby for the family to go to.

Around 1891 they moved, John Porter and Mary Isabella were born then 4 years later in 1898 my father, William arrived.

Time to move again!

A bigger house was needed so off they went to 31 Cheltenham Terrace……….

Chillingham Road Board School was opened in November 1894 fronted on to this quiet road, no cars then!

Dora must have been excited and a little nervous as she walked through the doors of this new school; she was just 6. A backward glance at her mother as they were marched into school and the doors closed. It was a long time until dinner. “It’s big and I can’t see outside. You can only speak when you are asked to. “ Said Dora. 

The next year shy Lizzie joined her sister followed by John and Mary. “ we need our 1d Board or we will be in trouble,” they shouted, “and we don’t want to miss our craft lessons."

I cannot find Dora or Lizzie’s registration entries; Dora may have been registered at Grafton Street. John, Mary and Williams are there and James Baston my fathers friend…

When William came to Chillingham Road School it had become a Local Council School, a great day! The education was free.

As far as I know, the children all attended until they were 14 years old.

Dora left to help with family chores which was often the case in those days.

Lizzie trained as an upholstress and Mary followed.

When Lizzie married she had a daughter Mary, whose son John Laws came to Chillingham Road around 1952.

Dora Married and had a son.

Mary, now trained as a nurse at Lemington fever hospital, and a midwife at Princess Marys Hospital, devoted her life to work. The long liver in the family she died almost 99.

John and my father helped in their fathers shop at night from being 8 until they left t be apprentice Butchers. My father went to Rutherford College at nights, but other events took over.

When my father was 8 he had a long time off with diphtheria, he was nursed at home, a carbolic blanket hung over the door to warn people not to enter. Was there and epidemic? Were other children kept off as well?

WW1 loomed in 1914 and John joined the Navy and fought in the Battle of Jutland. My father followed joining The Northumberland Fusiliers.

After the war they took over the shops and eventually married. And I am Williams only OFFPRING. And of the three cousins there is only me left.

I am always sad I never knew my grandparents.

They would never recognise Chillingham Road or School today.   But I am sure they would be proud of their family’s education and achievements.




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Project Details

Roots and Visions

Memories of Chillingham Road School, which has been at the heart of its community for 120 years.

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