The so called ‘Blue Carpet’, now barely discernable, outside the Laing Art Gallery, is probably not the best place to start on a review of Newcastle’s finest tiles. A few ‘in tact’ tiles remain, but the bulk are almost completely faded, the ravages of rain and wind rather than footfall, have taken their toll.
A better place to start might be the RVI a few of the ‘Nursery Rhyme” tiles remain accessible at the out patients entrance. For the first young patients on the children’s wards at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary in 1906, the 60 brightly coloured nursery rhyme panels adorning the walls must have been a wonderful sight. Depicting a plethora of what were then childhood favourites, Little Bo Peep, Little Red Riding Hood and Old Mother Hubbard, these original artworks by some of the best artists of the day were located above each child’s bed to entertain and amuse the sick youngsters. One hundred and ten years later, the 55 surviving Royal Doulton ceramic panels which flank the walls of wards 14 and 18 at the RVI are as beautiful as the day they were made.
With each panel standing 4ft 6in high and 2ft wide and made up of 36 individual tiles, the pictures are estimated to be worth at least £40,000 each. Today they comprise the largest collection of Royal Doulton tiles in the world.
1 – Lady Bird Lady Bird Fly Away Home
2 – Tom Tom The Piper’s Son Stole The Pig And Away Did Run
3 – Tom Went Roaring Down The Street
4 – Little Girl Little Girl Where Have You Been
5 – Little Bo-Peep Has Lost Her Sheep
6 – Let Them Alone And They’ll Come Home
7 – Ding Dong Bell, Pussy’s In The Well
8 – Little Betty Blue Lost Her Holiday Shoe
9 – There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe
10 – Little Tommy Tucker Sang For His Supper
11 – Curly Locks Shall Sew A Fine Seam And Feed Upon Strawberries, Sugar And Cream
12 – Higgledy Piggledy, My Black Hen
13 – Little Miss Muffet, She Sat On A Tuffet
14 – Simple Simon Went A-Fishing
15 – Simple Simon Met A Pieman
16 – Hickory Dickory Dock, The Mouse Ran Up The Clock
17 – The Clock Struck One, The Mouse Ran Down
18 – Where Are You Going My Pretty Maid? – I’m Going A Milking Sir She Said
19 – Then I Can’t Marry You My Pretty Maid – Nobody Asked You Sir, She Said
20 – Old Mother Hubbard Went To The Cupboard
21 – Old Mother Goose
22 – The King Was In His Counting House, Counting Out His Money
23 – The Queen Was In The Parlour, Eating Bread And Honey
24 – The Maid Was In The Garden, Hanging Out The Clothes
25 – I Had A Little Husband
26 – Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been
27 – Hush-A-Bye Baby, On The Tree Top
28 – St Swithin’s Day If Thou Dost Rain, For Forty Days It Will Remain
29 – Here We Go Gathering Nuts In May
30 – Little Jack Horner Sat In A Corner
31 – Hush-A-Bye Baby, On The Tree Top (version two)
32 – The Sleeping Beauty In The Enchanted Palace
33 – Little Boy Blue Come Blow On Your Horn
34 – Daffy-Down-Dilly Has Come To Town
35 – Hark Hark, The Dogs Do Bark
36 – Old King Cole Was A Merry Old Soul
37 – Blow Wind, Blow, And Go Mill Go
38 – Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow
39 – I Have Been Up To London To See The Queen
40 – I Saw A Ship A-Sailing
41 – Baa Baa Black Sheep, Have You Any Wool?
42 – Goosey-Goosey Gander, Wither Dost Thou Wander?
43 – Lady Queen Anne She Sits In The Sun
44 – Oh, Who Is So Merry, Hey Ho! As The Light-Hearted Fairy, Hey Ho!
45 – Bless You, Bless You Burny Bee; Say When Will Your Wedding Be?
46 – Cinderella In The Corner
47 – The Fairy Sends Cinderella To The Ball
48 – Cinderella Puts On The Glass Slipper
49 – Lucy Locket Lost Her Pocket, Kitty Fisher Found It
50 – Little Red Riding Hood
51 – The Knave Of Hearts Who Stole The Tarts
52 – My Maid Mary, She Minds The Dairy
53 – And Jill Came Tumbling After
54 – The Queen Of Hearts She Made Some Tarts
55 – The Rose Is Red, The Violet Blue, The Gilly-Flower Sweet And So Are You