In 1934 Cllr Angus Watson of Newcastle, who had already acquired the vicarage glebe lands as well as nearby Whitton Grange, to preserve what he called the "amenities of the district". Within a year, he had leased Whitton Tower to Newcastle City Council for a children's convalescence home, a use it retained until 1983 after which it reverted to residential use.
The children who spent some time at the convalescence home, now adults, oftern return to see the house and grounds and share their stories. This page is for the children and staff who lived and worked here during the time The Rectory was known as:
The Ethel Watson Childrens Convalescent Home
Date Name Comments
it is so nice to hear that you had bought back some of the building, it seemed a shame that it was split, cos it was such a magnificent home we would love to come back and see the place, it'll bring back some lovely memories. i remember some of the staff one being nurse balantyne who use to live in the village she was really nice and Mr Jackson who use to take us for walks on a morning up to the crossroads and back, after breakfast, in which we all the kids loved to do. there was a gardener but i can't remember his name, but perhaps my sister do. i can also remember that my and my sisters found a secret passage not far from the dormitories, this lead us back down the stairs to where the dining room was.
the ground's use to have a sort of playground with roundabout, swings etc. these where towards the top end of the garden
there has many a time we have gone up there but didn't go through the gates as we where not sure if we could, now i wish i had the bottle to go up (never mind).
04/02/2013 Corrina Purvis
We would like to hear from you if you were here during this time.
Please leave us a message on our contacts page
I recently visited friends in Rothbury for this year's annual duck race and plucked (no pun intended!) up the courage to walk the short distance to revisit the building. I had contemplated this journey before however had never went through with the idea.
As I entered the grounds I was reminded instantly of long forgotten memories of the play ground on the top terrace of the garden and the orchard area. I was met by the current owner of half of the now segregated building and I introduced myself and explained my uninvited presence in the garden he was tending. He told me his name was John and introduced me to his wife Isabelle. I explained the reason for my visit and cheekily asked if I could take a walk around the outside.
I was overwhelmed with some emotions for a second and John told me that several other people had asked the same in the last year that they'd been there. He asked me if I'd like to look inside.
Once I was inside I recognised the main hallway but I didn't see it the way it is but the way it was with coloured glass and big metal coat hangers. The lines of Wellington boots of all sizes and heights lined up near the door. The imposing staircase was smaller than my memory had pictured but still surprisingly frightening! The boys dorm is largely unchanged just seemed smaller! The bay window and in my mind I saw the beds and drawers all set out.
Next door was a room I remember to be the staff night quarters adjacent to the sick bay. This is where we would feign sickness and illness just to get one of the 3 beds in there as it was the only room where we could watch the wall mounted state of the art b&w portable tv!
The bathrooms were both accessible although I'm not sure if the boys was the one on the left of the two as I remember?! Just a vague memory of several baths and cubicles came to mind.
The rest of the main rooms were downstairs and some have been separated into smaller rooms. Very strong visions kept coming of playing with toys in the rectangular conservatory and meal times in the ! dining r oom.
I too remember the secret stairwell between the two floors and can't say I was a massive fan of the daily country walks which to a six year old felt more like a forced march lol!
The names of Mr Jackson and Nurse Black spring to mind too. A nice place for sure just there for the wrong and misunderstood level of reasoning of a small boy.
I also recalled trips to a nearby swimming pool too. I left after thanking John and Isabel and left feeling a sense of closure at 42 years old. I now understand the story behind my time there and also believe it was the start of who I became today. I'm really glad I did this. Thanks again for your hospitality John and Isabelle.
Border cica 1976-7
08/06/2013 Shaun Bain
Paid a visit to Whitton Tower today and chatted briefly with a lady about the recent history of the building. I mentioned how my mum had links to the building many years ago when it used to be a childrens rest home and how she would love to re visit. The lady we spoke to (unfortunately did not get her name) appeared very interested in anyone who had stories of the history of this amazing place. I mentioned the possibiliy of bringing my mum to visit and the lady said that this would be ok. I was thinking of the week beginning the 8th of july, any day that week would be convenient for us if so for you. This visit would be greatly appreciated as our mum often talks about her memories there. Please reply to the e mail above. I look forward to your'e response, kindest regards, Shaun Bain.
18/07/2013 Ann Martin
I was in the Ethel Watson for two months in the winter of 1959. I was a severe asthmatic and it was felt I needed 'building up'. Certainly the diet was designed to fatten us all--large meals full of calories and with enough fat included to horrify modern dieticians. For example, Wednesday night supper(it was weighing night so I guess they were trying to add a bit extra!) was always fried potato spread on buttered bread accompanied by cocoa entirely made with milk, followed by ice cream. And this after a tea of something like sausage and chips!
I have quite a few other memories if you'd like them--it was a fairly Spartan regime then in many ways but we still had some fun.
27/11/2013 Gary Donaldson
Hi folks im gary from the age of 9 I can remember going to this wonderful place in the country I made lots of new friends here this was in 1965 I was runover and suffered with very bad nerves on and off I spent months here I was nearly 13 the last time I stayed there I remember matty & isobel moore & nurses luis brown there was an Australian nurse ... margie clarck ....christine helm me and my wife visit often we put flowers on the graves of matty ..isobel...luis I have tried to get intouch with john moore who lives in hexham I believe he was a headmaster it is great to here from people who were there hope to here from you soon x
We had a request for any information regarding a Song that was sung at Whitton Tower in the early years of the convalesentce home. So if you can help please contact us... The Song goes...
The melody came from a song called "Roll along covered wagons" - Harry Roy. It can be heard on You tube and melody is the introductary part of the song. I learnt the song at Whitton Towers.
The words are:- Roll along Saint………?…... Ambulance, roll along,
Take me back to the place where I belong,
Whitton Towers may be fine,
But give me Newcastle on Tyne,
Roll along Saint……….?......Ambulance
From memory it was an ambulance we sang about, but maybe it was a bus? I do remember going on outings on a bus and singing the song.
Again I would like to apologise for not updating the website over the last couple of years, work pressures and all is a poor excuse but is the case. Time has flown by and now its 2019. However, over the years we have had many visitors who liked the idea of an Open Day, where the Children of the convalescence home could reconnect with friends and staff.
We will be holding another open day for the children and staff of the convalescent home.
This will be on Saturday 24th August 2019 between 12 noon and 4pm. Bring your family and friends and feel free to picnic in the gardens.