King John’s Palace

In Heaton Park are the ruins of the manor house that Adam of Jesmond, Sherif of Newcastle built around 1260. Despite its name King John never visited the house – he died 50 years before it was finished. Adam was friend and protector to Edward, King John’s grandson.

The House was built during a time of civil war between the Barons and the King. Adam wanted his house and land to be protected, so he gave it thick walls and built it like a small castle. Fortified houses like this could not be built without the King’s permission. Adam was given this as he was a supporter of the King.

Records exist showing Adam became unpopular for embezzlement and extortion and applied to Henry for a licence to enclose, fortify and crenellate his house.

Adam left his house when he joined Prince Edward, as one of his bodyguards, on crusade to the Holy Land. The Prince returned and became King Edward 1, but Adam never came back.

The palace is also known as the Camera of Adam. The main chamber of the house, on the first floor, was called the camera. This is where Adam would have held feasts and entertained his guests.

Very little remains of Adam’s dwelling, just two sides of a square tower with two window openings, but it was probably as large as most fortified houses of the period. The main structure would have angled turrets and battlements surrounded by accommodation for the dependents, stalling for horses and cattle, and stores for harvest produce.

Heaton Windmill

This old windmill was sited on the edge of the valley where its sails harnessed the power of the wind. The sails turned the grinding stones, which ground wheat into flour. There was plenty of wheat to be milled, provided by the farmers of Heaton.

For centuries wind and water were used to power a variety of mills and they played an important role in the economy. Windmills built from stone or brick and topped with a wooden cap for the sails, were once common on Tyneside

Gradually windmills declined as bigger mills powered by steam engines appeared.

By 1844 this mill was a ruin and the surrounding countryside was beginning to change. the farms disappeared to make way for more housing for shipyard and factory workers

In 1827 there were 49 windmills, 12 watermills and 18 steam mills in and around Newcastle.

Palace of Arts – Exhibition Park

Palace of Arts Exhibition Park

The building was originally named the Palace of Arts, and was first used to house art work from across the world at the 1929 North East Coast Exhibition. The North East Coast Exhibition was planned as a tribute to the region’s skills and industry. the intention of the exhibition was to show the world wha the north east was capable of producing. It was also aimed at being an antidote to the recession of the 1920s but by the time the Exhibition closed the North East was affected by the full blown effects of the depression.

The Lord Mayor of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Sir Arthur Lambert, was elected Chairman of the North East Coast Exhibition Committee in 1927. Sir Arthur Lambert and other organizers wanted to showcase the success of north east engineering to established clients and to find new ones. The ethos of the exhibition was to endeavor to bring new industries to provide work for the large numbers of unemployed in the region. The exhibition ran for six months and gave endless pleasure to almost 5 million people before closing with a huge fireworks display.

The Palace of Arts was designed by W. & T. R. Milburn Architects of Sunderland. The building is made from reinforced concrete and is one of the earliest examples of this. Because the building was designed to house important works of art from across the world, it was structurally stronger than the majority of other temporary exhibition buildings. Work was carried out in 2014 to stabilise the Palace of Arts structurally.

The majority of the temporary buildings were also designed by W. & T. R. Milburn and were formed from compressed asbestos. the Marketing Board Pavillion was the only building to be designed by different architects. This was due to it being sponsored by the government and being designed in-house by a government architect.

The Palace of Arts is a Grade II listed building, and the only remaining building built fro the 1929 North East Coast Exhibition. A ‘listed building’ is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historical interest. The building or structure is added to a special register, called the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest.

The Palace of Arts was an integral part of the Tyneside Summer Exhibitions from the 1960s until 1987. From the 1980s to 2006 the building was home to the Military vehicle Museum which closed due to the buildings deteriorating condition.

The Tyneside Society of Model and Experimental Engineers is a well established group who celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2014. Permission was granted in 1948 for the erection of a passenger carrying railway in Exhibition Park. It was opened by Lord the Mayor on 12th May 1951 and the completed railway was some 00 feet in length. 50 feet was removed in 1960 to accommodate the “Turbinia” extension to the Science Museum. The track was re-laid with a reduced length of 647 feet in 1962. Since its opening, the railway has given enjoyment to countless generations of members, local residents and visitors to Exhibition Park

Cattle Run – Armstrong Park

Cattle Run Information Panel
Cattle Run Information Panel

In 1870 fewer than 400 people lived in Heaton, in just 76 houses, it was a small village surrounded by open country side growing crops and herding cattle was the way of life before the village began to expand in the 1880s for centuries cattle had been drive down to pasture by the River Ouseburn from the fields above the valley. The cutting below follows the line of the old cattle which cut through Lord Armstrong’s estate.

The path you are on was the main carriage way through the woods to Jesmond Dene.  When William Armstrong was given this land he had a deeper path dug, so that the cattle could follow the old track and be kept away from visitors and their carriages.

William Armstrong was an inventor, engineer and industrialist.  His factories built bridges, cranes, guns and warships on the Tyne.

He was a dab hand at using construction materials from his own engineering projects and he often used these on his country estates.

As you look down the cattle run, notice how it is lined with sandstone blocks like those used on Victorian Railway Bridges.

Armstrong’s Waterfall – Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Waterfall Information Panel
Jesmond Waterfall Information Panel

Lord Armstrong created many water features throughout Jesmond Dene as part of his landscaping, features which we can enjoy to this day…. He added new ponds and built rapids, weirs and waterfalls to bring movement to the river.

His biggest project was the creation of this waterfall and the deep gorge you can see downstream. Explosives were used to blast out rock and the stone was used to build up the sides of the waterfall.

There is a sluice gate behind it which could open and close to change the flow of water.

Armstrong aimed to sculpt the river, creating dramatic features that looked natural. However if you look closely at the stone below the mill you might spot the joins where the rocks were cemented together.

After heavy rains torrents of water rush down the falls filling the valley with sound.

Tucked away near the waterfall Armstrong made a grotto from an old quarry. The grotto was designed to give the visitor an experience of underground mystery.

Boat House – Exhibition Park – Charles Parsons

Exhibition Park - Boat House
Boat House – Exhibition Park

When Parsons moved to the North East he built models and floated them on the Exhibition Park lake. Charles Algernon Parsons (1854-1931) was one of the most influential British engineers, best known for inventing the steam turbine. Parsons developed dynamos and turbines, and power generation, with great influence on the naval and electrical engineering fields. He also developed optical equipment, for searchlights and telescopes.

The Newcastle Model Boat Club was formed in 1882, whilst the club house was built towards the end of the construction of the park prior to the exhibition of 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. The building was restored in 2014. The model yacht club allowed model yachtsmen to sail wind powered boats however steam boats and paddle boats were also popular. The newcastle Model Boat Club was due to celebrate its 125th anniversary on 2007, however the club could not sustain itself after its membership dwindled.

Following the recent restoration of Exhibition Park, the Boathouse provides a base for the Go-Gosforth Cycling Club. This allows the club to have the space for storage and access to the toilets. The Club meets in the park on Saturday mornings 9:45-10:45am during term time. For further details contact Gosforth Road Club

Welcome to Jesmond Dene

William Armstrong and his wife, Margaret, made their home just up the road from here in 1835. They were given land in the Dene as a wedding gift and extended the grounds as their fortunes grew.

Over the next 30 years William Armstrong became one of the most important engineers in the world. He built his wealth on developing hydraulic cranes, bridges, field artillery and guns for battleships. He test his earliest guns by firing across the valley from a field near here.

The Armstrong’s transformed the Dene by planting hundreds of trees and shrubs, creating waterfalls, a grotto and miles of footpaths. It is now a public path for everyone to enjoy.

Today you can see a variety of flora and fauna such as rhododendrons, woodland birds and flowers. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of at the striking kingfisher.

Ouseburn Parks Visitors Centre

Welcome to Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, gift shop, Millfield House Cafe and Conference Centre

Ouseburn Parks is made up of five distinct green spaces; Jesmond Dene, Paddy Freeman’s Park, Armstrong Park, Heaton Park and Jesmond Vale where there is plenty to see and do.

Please take a look at the visitor centre for more information about events, volunteering, education opportunities, the history and wildlife of the parks

The Shoe Tree

In 1627, Sheriff Babington of Heaton threw his shoes up into the Sycamore to celebrate the birth of his Grandson. Since then residents of Heaton have continued this tradition by throwing their shoes up into the tree, whenever they celebrate a special occasion. The tree, as you can see is full of shoes, though not everyone believes the Sheriff Babington Story.