Urban chic in Gosforth and Jesmond
PUBLISHED: 11:39 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 17:54 20 February 2013
Combining timeless quality with contemporary chic, the Newcastle suburbs of Gosforth and Jesmond offer contrasting but complementary alternatives to their big city neighbour, as Louise Brown discovers
Any narrative covering Gosforth and Jesmond is not perhaps a tale of two cities, but of two parts of Newcastle - united, if
you like, geographically, but also in spirit and identity.
They are classic and sophisticated segments in the mosaic that is the city.
Gosforth and Jesmond share common values of stylish living and cultural vibrancy, each possessing a myriad of unique, independent bars, cafes and restaurants as well as shops, happily
co-existing alongside the usual high street predictables.
There is in each place a rich variety of life on offer, with close proximity and easy access to the city centre providing further compelling reason if not to come and stay, then to pay a visit.
The cosmopolitan lifestyle and contemporary feel Gosforth and Jesmond exude make it easy to forget that these are places rich in history.
Jesmond, a name thought to derive from hill of Jesus, developed towards the end of the 19th century from the prosperity, particularly industrial prosperity, of Newcastle at that time. As Newcastle became wealthier, buoyed by this industrial surge, huge demand for housing in the smoke-free outer areas of the city followed. By the 1900s most of Jesmond had been developed into a residential suburb and the population had reached 15,000.
Today, Jesmond is much more than a housing cluster on the outskirts of the city centre. The beautiful Georgian architecture, combined with countless retail and social outlets of high quality on characterful avenues such as Acorn Road, Holly Avenue and Clayton Road give Jesmond style and substance.
What developed initially as a solution to the housing demands of the prosperous in 19th century Newcastle has become a desirable, affluent area with its own unique identity.
Unlike Jesmond, Gosforth hasnt always exhibited a strong attachment to the city. Gosforth was a separate urban district with its own council and town hall from 1895 until 1974 when it became part of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and absorbed into the administrative entity of Tyne and Wear, a development fiercely opposed by many local people at the time.
This strong sense of community is still present today. As you wander down the High Street and side streets, it soon becomes clear that Gosforth still strives perhaps to assert its independence and individuality.
Typifying this strident personality is the gorgeous Townhouse Hotel. Situated on the tree-lined West Avenue, just off the High Street, the Townhouse really is a tucked-away treasure. The creation of friends and business partners, Cathy Knox and Sheila Armstrong, the hotel opened for business and received its first guests some two years ago.
Cathy and Sheila understood the importance of local businesses serving the area and identified a niche market for a boutique hotel.
When explaining their decision to open The Townhouse, Cathy said: Gosforth is a desirable family-orientated suburb full of cultural history, with lovely people and a strong sense of community spirit.
Singing Gosforths praises, Cathy pointed to the importance of local businesses: The High Street is better than it used to be, with unique independent boutiques attracting more people to the area.
In the future, I hope more local businesses set up in Gosforth. It is important that we dont lose our identity to large, corporate firms.
The Townhouse also offers a cafe service for both guests and non-guests and has recently introduced a bistro menu. Selecting quality interiors of contemporary design while preserving many of the original features of the property, itself a delightful example of Victorian architecture, create the perfect marriage of the fashionable and the forever.
This positive outlook is shared by local Sardinian restaurant Adrianos, whose spokesman described Gosforth as a great place with a great community.
Located just behind the High Street, Adrianos stylish interior, which blends the traditional and modern, complements the excellent food on offer.
As an indication of the increasing prosperity in Gosforth, Adrianos has recently opened a deli on the High Street itself. Offering authentic Italian fare, the deli also serves as a great place to perch and observe the bustling action on the High Street while enjoying a snack or the ever-essential coffee and cake combination.
In many respects Adrianos is both the essence and expression of Gosforth itself, offering quality and style and looking ever to expand, improve and take advantage of a great location.
Like Gosforth, Jesmond is committed to independent businesses, much in evidence when you venture off the dominant Osborne Road.
Clayton Road, in the Brandling area, boasts an array of stylish boutiques and shops. A real treat is the Secret Garden flower shop. Opened in 1991 by owner Nicola Allinson, the Secret Garden has blossomed over the years by remaining passionate and innovative about flowers and flower design, while offering a personal and friendly service.
When discussing the benefits of having a business in Jesmond, Nicola said: It is a great, Bohemian, cosmopolitan area, which is always buzzing with energy. People who visit Jesmond are attracted by the unique, independent retailers and I feel that is something we could do with more of.
A sense of community is essential for the area and we do our best to support local charities and schools by supplying flowers for raffles.
A positive view of Jesmond is shared by lettings manager Sue Danskin from Groves Estate Agents on Acorn Road. When discussing Jesmond, she said, Jesmond is a lovely area with everyone from students to footballers living here. It is a cosmopolitan place with a village feel. Everyone is really friendly and prepared to help each other out.
Whether these are the best of times or the worst of times may be open to debate, but there is no question that Gosforth and Jesmond endure and flourish and, to the great benefit of the region, will continue to do so. Why not pay a visit?
Are you a resident of Gosforth or Jesmond, or did members of your family work for some of the wealthy businesspeople whose grand homes created these desirable suburbs of Newcastle? If so, tell us your thoughts about the places and the lifestyle they offer by leaving a message.