Behind the small modern shopping centre, on the east side of the High Street, is Gosforth Central Park, a pleasant green space where locals like to unwind, walk their dogs or take the children to run off steam. The park was developed in 1932 on land which had been Sanderson’s Nursery Garden. It was opened to the public by the Chairman of the Gosforth Urban District Council (UDC) on the 6th August 1932.
The park has a fenced play area for young children, a bowling green, a couple of tennis courts and a basketball court. There are attractive avenues of lime trees, some pretty rose-beds in the summer and plenty of benches.
The park is also the site of the local War Memorial. The annual Remembrance Sunday Service takes place here on the Sunday nearest to the 11th November each year. When he was alive my father-in-law always made a point of attending this, as do many of the older men in the area, who still have memories of friends or family lost in the Second World War or other more recent ones.
The first records of settlement in Gosforth go back to the 12th century, although it is thought that there may have been a church here (in what is now South Gosforth) as far back as Saxon times. But most of modern Gosforth was first developed in Victorian times, and a walk along the High Street will provides many glimpses of those days.
The High Street falls within a Conservation Area, created in recognition of the area’s historic and architectural character. A couple of leaflets produced by the local history society, Gosforth Community History Group, describe a number of historical sites on the High Street and to the north and south of it, and include some old photos which make an interesting contrast with the present-day scene.
I have picked out some of these sights and described their history in my General tips. They include some interesting Victorian churches (all but one of which have now been adapted for other uses), the former cinema and the old tram sheds. Apart from these you can spot the Victorian fire station (in use until 1990), the Assembly Rooms where the young ladies of the town would once have gone hoping to meet their future husband, some notable pubs (a young Sting used to play at the Gosforth Hotel on the corner of Salters Road) and a couple of old milestones. Keep your eyes open too for the still-cobbled alleyways that lead off the main road here and there, relics of earlier days when horse-drawn vehicles were the only form of transport.
The leaflets are available from local shops, the library at the Regent Centre (near the metro station to the north of the High Street) and from Trinity Church. A donation of £1 for each is suggested. Or you can download them from the website below (look under “Publications”)