Whitton Tower


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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






We would like to hear from you if you were here during this time.

Please leave us a message on our contacts page

26/01/2014     Diane Beaton

Hi i have just come across this page. I was a resident here in the 1970. i absoloutely loved it. I remember going to the village on a saturday and also THE STORIES OF THE GREY LADY!!!! I think the teacher was a miss hardy.

We used to arrive every friday by ambulance. Lunch was fish chips and peas and Prunes for dessert. There was the walk to the belfry and the RUBBER TREE.

It is such a shame to have lost such a wonderful place.

29/01/2014     Diane Beaton

Apart from the grey lady the rubber tree was fab. We used to thump it lol. Also santa came through the woods.

The grey lady was obviously a fox walking the gravel.

16/03/2014     Ann Wait

I was ther with my brothers & sisters we used to go for about 4 weeks but if we were good we used to stay for 6 weeks we didn't want to come home it was fantastic place to be swimming in the river go on country walks them were the days x

17/05/2014     Stephen Green


I have some very fond memories of Whitton Towers where I lived between 1958 to 1964. I was a child at the time with a heart problem and had been sent there to "build me up" as my family lived in a rather run down area of Gateshead. I remember vividly the mosaic floor in the grand entrance hall and a staircase on the right leading to the bathroom. My bedroom was in a 4 bedded room up on the left from the bathroom.

We played in a large ground floor room where the nurses taught us songs. Great times in the huige garden complete with lovely sunhouse. Halcyon days indeed. Would love to re visit the inside someday.

19/05/2014     Susan Ruddick

i would like to thank John and Isabel for making me and my husband so welcome when we called in on Saturday 17th May 2014. i was only about 3 years old when i went to whitton towers as a child and although i was very scared i had happy memories of my stay there.

i was surprised at how much came flooding back to me we have been looking for Whitton Towers for years and couldn't find it, even people who have lived in Rothbury didn't know what i was talking about when i asked them where whitton Towers was.

We were a bit scared when we got to the gates we spoke to a lovely couple who have the coach house, and they told us to knock at the house as John and Isabel love to talk to people who stayed at the house, and they were right they welcomed us warmly and let us take photos and best of all they gave us a tour of the inside of the house.

It was so emotional for me and they will never know how grateful i am for their kindness and generosity Thanks again John and Isabel

12/06/2014     Diane Waddell

Hi can i just say what a fantastic childhood i had here. The adventures about the GREY LADY, never saw her but heard her. I was there in the 70s and i hated having to come home. My teacher was the late mrs hardy, the classroom was too youre left as you entered. Every friday an ambulance used to drop children off and pick up those for home. we had prunes and custard every friday. There was a tin where you put your sweets,then upstairs to change into the clothes donated, i hated that bit!!!!

We would go up in the belfry and investigate the bats and i am sure there was a RUBBER TREE.

Every saturday we would see matron and get letters and postal orders from family and go into the vlilage.

I hope i can pluck up the courage to go back someday

18/06/2014     Gary Donaldson

hi john n isobell just recovering from my visit I will send you a long e mail with my story I have contacted john moore in hexham he wants to meet he has some old photos from his parents days I hope to get some good picks by the way if you get any correspondence from a lady called liz sanderson she used to be at the home around my time ??? she has some wonderful tales by for now but I will write everything down and sen it to you once again thank you for allowing me into your home regards gary n jean donaldson xx

12/11/2014     Majorie Turner

                      (Margie Clark)


Hi just found your page. What a lovely surprise to see some names I new Gary. Donaldson. I am Margie Clark.who he mentioned.

The gardener was George, Miss Growcock was teacher. Edna Starling was the cook. Sadie Brown was a domestic. Nancy Scott was the village nurse who came in every week.

Dr Armstrong was the doctor. Mr Mrs.moor. Louie Brown. Ann Brown

Marjorie Clark. Lillian Hood. Anita. She was from Swedan. Anne

Connie Harvey was also cook. Aundry Payne. We also got young student Nurses from the general hospital. Bronwen Garside. Cathy. Crow were two of the students. Then there was John Moor the son of Mr Mrs moor.

We were one happy family

05/12/2014     Anne Murray

                     (nee Charlton)

Worked and lived in Whitton Tower as a cadet nurse from January 1960-August 1961 and have many happy memories and lasting friendships from that time.

02/11/2014     Anne-Marie Curry


I spent 6 weeks here in 1968. I too was, still not too great, a chronic asthmatic, and the drugs we have now, we didn;t have then. I'd had a terrible infection and was sent for clean air. It felt like a prison sentence to me, at 7 years old, although the doctors told me it was a holiday to get me to go. I'm a sensetive soul so the memories are clouded by the pain of separation. I remember the staff were kind, we had a shared sweeties night, everyone put their presents into the pot and everyone got something. We were all from disadvantaged backgrounds, all ages. I learned all my first swearwords there. My mother nearly had a heart attack when I proudly told her them all. I loved the building, my favourite memory is waking up to birdsong and no other sounds, before anyone else was awake. Still crave that. I'd forgotten the menu! what a great memory jog. Happy day was Satruday when my Mam, Sister and Aunty came up from Newcastle and we went into Rothbury. My Mama loved to walk, so I was used to being dragged about on foot, the walks did seem like a torture, made a bit more tolerable by the views and animals. Sad to see its been divided into flats, but I'm sure the new residents love it because they live there voluntarily and have the birds and peace every morning. Lucky them!

18/09/2014     Paul Sarson

I too had many happy memories staying at Whitton Tower in the 60s to the 70s, being orphaned at at very early age I was feeling very vunerable at the time but instantly made to feel wanted and protected by JOHN and his wife, and of course the staff, at the time life seemed to be one big adventure, with the beautiful walks around Rothbury, the official bat watch every evening, the tales of mystery which tended to get more elaborated by the year, it will always have a great place in my heart,.

14/08/2014     Deborah


I think I stayed here for six weeks in 1965/66. Is there anyway I can find out if I did. I have great memories but no one has told me why I was there except that I was poorly?

08/09/2014     Susan Key


I stayed there it had its bad points

my brother used to help in the garden feeding the ducks etc and posted the mail.

they used to read ya mail befor it was posted and made u lie on ya belly after dinna

I remember them used to coat u in white stuff and stuff on ya hair

cant remember any of the staff a remember the school in one if the rooms and going for walks they had me knackered

The threatened to put me brother in the tower for wetting the bed

A still would like to go back for a look around n that tho. Wish there was photos of all that went it would be good to see

10/08/2014     Brenda Kimmins

I spent a few months at Whitton Towers after a long spell in hospital with Rheumatic Fever. It was a frightening time as there was a myxomatosis outbreak and all the rabbits died a gruesome death. We used to see them with their eyes bulging every day during our walks through the woods. I remember a little cottage nearby as I was told a witch lived in it.

I still have a nativity scene given to me at Christmas 1952 by a visitor. My parents could never visit me as they had no transport and my mum was pregnant. By the time I went home she had a baby and my grandmother whom I loved had died.

I'm afraid I have suffered all my life with depression and separation anxiety which I put down to my time at Whitton Towers. It was such an alien environment for a little city girl from Gateshead and I just thought I had been abandoned there. I'm 67 now and I've waited all these years to explain why I am the way I am. Thank you for this wonderful site. I'm sure I will never visit, but it has helped just writing it down.

10/08/2014     Mark Faichen

I recently visited whitton tower with my wife (9/8/2014), a lady came out from the house and greeted us, I told her that I stayed here in the late 70's, she kindly showed us around the house and gardens, she owns the front part of the house.

I told her my memories of my visits, I didn't enjoy them much but I was always a homesick child.

Just reading all other comments it has brought back certain memories, the teacher mrs hardy, I think that was her name. There was a guy who grew veg on the opposite side, he moaned when you left veg on your plate, I can't remember the matrons name but there were 2 members of staff, a mr Jackson, he was great and then there was nurse black, she wasn't so nice, I remember having a bath every night and on Saturday night you had your hair washed and nurse black used to scrub your skin off.

Looking at comments the lady in grey came back to me, also the ambulance every Friday taking people home and dropping new kids off.

If anyone was there in 77 or 78 it would be good to hear from yous.

The only names that come to mind is Paul gardiner and Linda fruiter who spent time there with me

05/08/2014     Ann Fenion

                     (nee Stoddart)

How I loved this place, worked here from the age of 16 until nearly 21. Came from Ashington given a job by Sister and Mr Moore. Never stopped the whole time loved being with the children and they all seemed so happy most not wanting to o home, Fridays were very sad days. Used to go into the village on Saturdays with the children who didn't have visitors, to let them spend their pocket money. We got weekly supplies from Newcastle General, and a Dr Davison used to visit us quite regularly. The children called me Ann and many a fun time we had, a couple of them weren't. Much younger than me at the beginning as there ages were from 3 to 16.would love to hear from anyone

13/07/2014     Diane Hughes



Hi there were 4 of us who used to stay at Whitton Tower for 4 weeks at a time late 70' early 80's because of the awful life i had at home i used to pray for that time of year, i remember the secret passage, the dormitory's, the sick bay and i can remember mrs Hardy the teacher, nurse smith and my favourite was nurse Appleby she took me and a couple more on a visit to her lovely house just down the road i have been saying for years i would love to go back to see Whitton Tower well this year i definitely am anyone else got lovely memories of Whitton Tower...

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

                                                Roll along


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.

Date            Name                         Comments          

Visitor years:                      2013        2014      2015      2016      2017       2018        2019 


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.