Ballast Hills (Grannies Park)

Ballast Hills ‘Grannies’ Park

Location: Ballast Hills (Grannies Park)

Ballast Hills Cemetery was a burial ground for non conformists who had to be hurried outside the church walls. There were a lot of plague victims buried there with the earliest burial taking place in the Plague year of 1609.

As the name suggests the graves were dug in what was a Ballast Hill – the Ballast coming from ships on the nearby Tyne. In C17 Gray Observed, ‘where women upon their head carried ballist which was take forth of small ships, which cam empty for coals’ adding ‘the Ballast Hill were used for the drying of cloths’ as well as general recreation.

The graveyard was formalised in 1785 with a wall being built and charges being made for burials. The last burial was in 1853 when it was closed because of a cholera outbreak.

It was turned into a kids playground in the 1930s and the grave stones layed out as a path. Those of former non conformist ministers, still stand near the back of the school.

Natural weathering means many of the inscriptions are becoming illegible. However the monumental inscriptions were recorded when the cemetery was converted into a park. The majority of headstones were recycled in two ways,they were used as paving stones, with the inscription being placed face down or used as the base stone in oven ranges in some Tyneside Flats.

Known locally as to Grannies Park either because a ghost called granny haunts the park or that it was simply a park that grandmothers took the kids to play.