Whitton Tower

Northumberland

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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

1937-1983

 

 

 

 

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

Please leave us a message on our contacts page

12/03/2015     Susan Adamson

                     (nee Morton)

Paste Eggs!

I spent a number of visits to Whitton Towers in the late 1950s and have many happy memorys i was usualy there in the spring or summer . I remember baby lambs and horse racing and one Easter rolling paste eggs down a hill , i remember the Primroses and Violets and Daffodils growing in the hedgerows . I remember watching for my parents coming up the hill then with mixed feelings watching them leave again . I have lived in Canada for many years now but have never forgoten my time there, i am going back to England this coming Summer and will try to visit Rothbury .I would love to see some old photos of the inside the only thing i have is an old postcard i sent to my mother which she kept for years , would love to hear more stories this is a great site .

16/02/2015     Brian Quinn

wo so many great memories at this place nurse black we hated getting bathed from her lol .the gardens the bats on a night time pillow fights in the dorms lol I think I was there 2 r three times and hated going home wanted to stay there lol the waling and playing in the woods the dungeons and the secret rooms up stairs lol . Brian Quinn walker newcastle

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.

02/04/2015     Anne Clark

                     (née Paddison)

I am sending this email from Australia where I now live. I stayed at Whtton Towers after the war, circa 1946, 7 8 or 9.

I am now researching my life story for my own family, I was born in 1940

at the start of the second world war, my father was a ship builder. We migrated to Australia in 1949. I am keen to find out about about my stay and the words of the song 'Roll along Staint........ Ambulance, roll along'

I know the rest of the song.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

 

 

I was so happy to receive your email, thank you both! 

Yes, it was a long time ago but I have never forgotten it.

 

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.

 

The countryside was beautiful and we climbed a grass covered hill to pick,

eat and collect small berries  that grew close to the ground,

I think they were something like black currants.

 

I was born at Dilston Hall in 1940, I believe it  belonged to Lord & Lady Allenby.

My mother was evacuated there before my birth.

06/04/2015     Anne Clark

                     (née Paddison)

Hi my names jackie. As a young girl in 1977 i stayed at whitton towers when it was a home 3 times with my sister and brother. My dad had a heart attack at 32 and was very poorly so we came on a holiday to give mam and dad a break. I loved it. Im visiting rothbury on friday 7th august and would love to visit it again. Just to have a little look. Im visiting with my husband and girls and love them to see what i so often talk to them about. Hope to here from you before then. Thank you....jackie.

03/08/2015     Jackie Relph

I had the unexpected pleasure of visiting Rothbury on Friday, 7 August 2015, with my wife and an ex colleague. Hence, I could not possibly leave the village without calling in to see the place I knew as Whitton Towers, the Children’s Home where I convalesced for 6 months in 1953, at the age of 6. Doesn’t time fly as I now find myself to be 68!

As I walked up the drive towards the house many happy memories came back and I was pleased to see John working hard in the large garden. He immediately stopped what he was doing and walked down to meet me and instantly made me feel welcome with a smile and his opening words "were you one of the children?"

I have such happy memories of this place and, as others have said in their recollections, I am sure that my time there formed a part of my character and the type of person I later became.

When I was 6 years old I lived with my parents in a miner’s cottage at Wardley, Gateshead; my father being a colliery fitter at the time. The house was near a main road and one day a friend of my father’s called me across the road in order to ask me a question. It was then that I was knocked down by a car and subsequently ended up in Newcastle General Hospital, where the doctors declared that they could do nothing to save me, therefore, my family called in a Priest in order to perform the last rights. The story goes that as the Priest marked a cross with blessed water on my forehead, I moved for the first time since the accident. After a lengthy stay at the hospital I was sent to Whitton Towers, in order to benefit from the country air and to be "built up."

I recall boarding an old, single decker bus with wooden framed windows and a pointed bonnet at the hospital, along with a group of other children; having no idea where I was going. The journey to Rothbury felt like an adventure, as I looked out at beautiful countryside the like of which I had never seen before. The bus travelled slowly and on the way we stopped at a couple of farms for eggs and other produce.

Upon our arrival at Whitton Towers I recall exiting the bus directly into the entrance hall of the house and, in what seemed to be no time at all, being shown into the first floor bathroom, just up the stairs on the right, and being told to get a bath. Bear in mind that in 1953 miner’s cottages did not have a bathroom, so a fitted bath in its own room was a new experience to me. I recall feeling at a loss at the time because I could not find a towel; all I could see was the bath mat on the floor, so I proceed to use this to get dried with. Fortunately one of the nurses poked here head around the door and corrected the situation by abruptly stopping my actions and giving me a towel.

The environment at the home was a happy one and it felt safe and secure. We were well fed and we benefited from a well organised regime. Playing and running around the grounds and in amongst and up and down the trees was a great pleasure. The Matron and the young nurses were very caring. I recall that the Matron’s husband was responsible for the gardens and the produce in the nearby large greenhouse, which is where the Matron gave me my first ever tomato directly off the plant.

A particular pleasure was being chaperoned by the nurses as we walked as a group of children, from the Home, through the wooden gate immediately opposite the main entrance and downs through the field to the village.

I also recall on some evenings sitting in a half circle on the floor, with blankets around our legs, as we watched TV in the main downstairs room (to the left just inside the entrance hall).

Sunday mornings were always a dread for me, because this is when we were lined up to receive a large tablespoonful of medicine, a thick substance which I could never swallow. So I hunted around the house to find somewhere to dispose of the contents of my mouth. Then I noted that as we lined up for this dreadful stuff, those who were Catholics did not join the queue, because they went off to church, hence, I became an instant Catholic. However, I was not astute enough to work out that when we returned from church the medicine was still waiting for us.

It was a sad day when I boarded the bus to leave the Home for my journey back to Newcastle General Hospital. Throughout the six months I spent at Whitton Towers my parents were not able to visit. Therefore, I recall as I disembarked from the bus at the Hospital I looked at my mother but was not sure whether it was her or my aunt, so I kept quiet until things eventually fell into place.

Looking back I can confirm that my time at Whitton Towers was a very happy and a very special time in my life. I went on, in good health, to serve for 26 years in the Police Branch of the Royal Air Force, from which I retired as a Squadron Leader. I then went on to become one of Her Majesty’s Queen’s Messengers; a job which took me around the world many, many, times for fifteen years.

Now I am happy and settled in my second year of retirement and I am most grateful that I was one of the children that lived for a short time at Whitton Towers.

14/08/2015     Alvin M Hill

I had great memories of witton towers as a child me and my cousin was sent there for 6 weeks as a child 10 years old in 1972 and 1973 i could never put weight on even though i never stopped eating! Well it must have worked because from being 6stone child im now a 13stone 52 year old! I was healthy and had a great childhood at home but mam always worried about me and thought it would do me good . My husband alway knew of my time there and i decided a few days ago i would love to go back we drove into Rothbury and immediately i was overcome with emotions we drove up the hill into the grounds of witton towers i jumped out of car univited and was going to knock on the door to ask if i could have a wonder round a lovely lady greated me and i told her of my time there she gladly invited my husband and myself in the memories are amazing seeing the staircase upto the dormitory the big bay windows over looking the gardens the tiled hallway the front room which was a class room the visitors room where mam and nana and ant came on a saturday for a visit i remember the long walks feeding the chickens before bedtime in our pyjamas covered in camaline lotion and headlice lotion on for a week! How lucky we to spend happy childhood summers at witton towers beeing cared for by lovely staff and nurses. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the lady and gent who ownes this property and wish you many happy years in your beautiful home. Lv christine and gary alberts

10/04/2015     Christine Alberts

                      (Harrihill)

hi john and isabelle im back from my holiday and could not wait to message you to thank you so very much for taking the time to show me and my family around your beautiful home. I have waited years to visit Whitton Towers and i never thought i would get the chance. I felt so emotional, i tried hard to hold back the tears but they came once we left. Tony and myself think you,s are lovely people... we both said when we left we felt like we had known you,s both for years. Thanks again.Me and tony are going to try and find the photos of the carnival float. We are going to come to Rothbury in september... where going to stay in the Railway hotel. so hopefully we will find what where looking for. And maybes call in to see you both or you could join us at the pub for a drink. Thank you once again and love to you both ...Jackie and Tony.x

08/08/2015     Jackie Relph

My stay at Whitton Towers in 1968 & 1969 bring many fond memerories back. I recently found a postcard addressed to my parents with the wonderful picture on the front.

I do remember Sister and Mr Moor being especially being kind to me during my stay on both occassions. I remember their son parking a MG sports car at the front of the building and thinking Wow (its funny what goes through a 10year old mind). I can remenber a great deal about my time here but I also made friends with other children who I eventually attend a special school with in Low Fell, Gateshead, sadley these people are no longer with us.

I am hoping this summer to visit Rothbury where I am sure it will be an emotional time.

30/07/2015     Jackie Makari

                      (Conlon)

i remember ginger marmelade and sleeping in a field

05/06/2015     Walter William Tait

I worked at Whitton Tower from 1961 to 1971 with the exception of a few months during the latter years. Nurse Chesmore (nicknamed Nurse Cheesie by staff and children). Best job I ever had. Loved the children and often spent my days off there taking children in to Cragside on walks. I still live locally. Have kept in touch with some of the children and have been blessed with a great memory so remember many of their names. If at all possible I would love to hear from any that remember me and would be willing for you to pass my email address on to them. I am known in Rothbury as Anne Young, hence my email address.

Kind regards

Anne

25/04/2015     Anne Young.

                      (Cheesie)

Hi just taking a trip down memorie lane like so many others. I had been on another post when people started talking about whitton towers and their stay there. it reminded me of my visits to Whitton towers due to ill health as a child constant bronchitis and malnourished I certainly was not hungry when I left after plenty of food to eat and fresh fruit which was a bit of a luxury in Gateshead in the 1950 . I found your old postcards after looking on the Internet and it all comes flooding back beautiful old building surrounded by lovely country side . I now live in another beautiful spot the South Island of New Zealand a long way from the Geordie way of life . just thought I would share a few of my memories of my time staying their my beautiful blond locks cut with a bowl on head to look a bit like the three stooges.... Fruit everyday for morning tea and dessert what a treat.... The long walks with my short legs to this day enjoy walking and seeing the views. I can honestly s ay it was an experience I will never forget ... Beautiful building beautiful way of life regards Maisie ( was Percival)

01/10/2015     Maisie Fuller

                     ( nee Percival)

Date            Name                         Comments          

Lucky enough to meet Billy Powell and his lovely sister Maxine about 7 years after my stay in1972. I travelled up to Rothbury in an ambulance with a girl called Theresa Gallagher. All the way there in the ambulance, she sat opposite me with her arms around to really young kids. I don't know if they were related, but she was like a mother hen. Id love to meet Theresa again. We all had a shared experience, but she was so special.

28/12/2015     Philip Donovan

 

I had a magical time at Witton towers as an 11 year old in August/Sept 1956...I enjoyed it so much I asked to go back for Xmas...coming from a family of four children it was so nice to have lovely food and the wonderful nurses especially nurse Appleby who lived in the village..looking after us...we used to go on walks up bilberry hill...and the dolls house (Cragside) was always pointed out to us on our long walks...I used to read Enid Blytons adventure books and to me I was almost in such a magical setting....It was really such a wonderful old building and I remember going downstairs where the laundry was done and seeing the well with the grid across....It was a very sad time for me when the Friday ambulance came to pick us up for the return visit to Newcastle at the end of my 4 week stay...I wouldn't have missed my time there for anything.

09/12/2015     Margaret Brewis

                      used to be Robson

 

I was at Whitton Tower for four spells(each one for six weeks) 1951,1952 and 1953.I remember a nurse who lived on the local housing estate above the village, and a nurse called nurse Allenby. I enjoyed the walks around the local countryside (twice a day) and I remember the food was good. I had spells there in the summer and over Christmas time when we would walk down to the village on Christmas Eve for carol service. The song we used to sing in the Hospital transport was Roll along St. Johns ambulance roll along.

29/12/2015     Brian Connelly

 

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.