Local Businesses

Jump to: | Taylor's Garage | Wilson's Garage | The Regal Cinema | Monkseaton Banks | Norie Electrical
| West Monkseaton Open Cast | Whitley Bay Ice Rink | Scott & Robson
Taylors Garage, fronting Earsdon Road in 1929. Grange Farm (now occupied by the Hunting Lodge Pub) is visible towards the right.
Taylor's Garage

In May 1920, John Beaumont Taylor opened for business as a motor car and motor cycle repairer, trading under the name "The Monkseaton Motor and Repair Works".

To accommodate the business, a wooden building was erected on a field fronting Earsdon Road, Monkseaton, which at this time was a narrow country road with hedges and ditches on both sides. The building measured 100 feet by 20 feet, and the only other buildings standing between the Foxhunters roundabout and West Monkseaton Station were Seatonville Farm, Burnt House Farm, and Monkseaton Grange Farm, all of which have now long since disappeared.

In 1922 John Taylor installed the first roadside petrol pump on the North East coast. The transition from The Monkseaton Motor and Repair Works to its subsequent development of what became Taylor's Garage was particularly notable in the 1930s. In 1932, the wooden building was demolished, and a new garage was built, complete with a hydraulic lift, Tecalemit greasing bay and much of the modern equipment that was available at the time.

In 1933, this led to Taylor's being appointed by Vauxhall Motors as the main Vauxhall dealership for the area.

John Taylor was an engineer and in 1934 became involved in the development of a multi-cylindered rotary engine which gave great promise of future development. He made complete drawings and built a machine shop extension on the garage in order to build this experimental engine, however the advent of the Second World War meant that his engineering projects had to be shelved and the machine shop was used to manufacture tools, gun parts and hydraulic gear for battleships etc. They also trained many girls in fitting and machining for the larger factories.

The end of hostilities marked the return of normal motor and repair work and in 1949 the son of the founder; Mr. John H.B. Taylor joined the firm.

Steady progress was maintained and in 1955 a new showroom and parts facilities were added to the Earsdon Road premises. Two years later, Vauxhall Motors upgraded Taylor's to Vauxhall-Bedford Main Dealers status, which meant that they could deal direct with the factory for all their products.

By 1959, additional premises were acquired in Park Road and Marine Gardens, Whitley Bay, to accommodate the growth of the company and facilitate a large showroom, service department, plus paint and body shops.

Since John Beaumont Taylor founded the business in 1920, it became part of the fabric of the area, and Taylor's can be justly proud of the part they have played. The business ceased in 1985 when it sold out to Reg Vardy's car dealership.

The front section of the garage premises were later demolished to make way for a modern petrol filling station (now a car wash). The remaining buildings were converted for use as small retail outlets.

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The size of Wilsons Garage becomes apparent in this 1982 photograph, with the showroom in the distance, the main garage in the centre and the parts shop to the right. Note the petrol pump facilities.
Wilson's Garage

During the early 1920s, William Skillbeck ran a motor car garage in Annfield Plain, Co. Durham, and, as his business expanded, he acquired premises in Whitley Bay. The premises became a garage and showroom, and were situated between Marine Avenue and Marine Gardens (now occupied by Featonbys Salerooms).

At this time, Skillbeck employed a Mr Robert Wilson, who was well experienced in the motor trade, to take charge of the Whitley Bay premises when they opened for business in April 1925. The garage soon became a success, and Robert Wilson was granted the agencies for Austin, Morris, MG and Wolseley cars at this showroom.

William Skillbeck eventually sold the business to Robert Wilson, which continued to flourish, and thereby convinced him to make it a limited company and, when directors were appointed, the business was renamed R. Wilson Ltd, and so the company was born.

Expansion saw the need for new premises and, in 1929, a purpose built garage was erected at the corner of Cauldwell Lane and Bromley Avenue, which became R. Wilson (Monkseaton) Ltd.

The premises at Park View continued in use as a showroom for new and second hand cars until 1932/33, when the premises were sold and the entire business transferred to the Monkseaton.

During the Second World War, Wilsons Garage was contracted by the Ministry of Supply, to overhaul Army vehicles and during an air raid in 1942 the main garage premises suffered blast damage. It was during this year that Robert Wilson sold the business to a group of brothers: Norman, Wilf, Harold and Reg Craven. Because of the high reputation that Robert Wilson had earned over the years, the Craven Brothers decided that the name of the company would remain unchanged and therefore retained the well-established name of R. Wilson Ltd.

In the early 1950s, a site was acquired on the corner of Cauldwell Lane and Woodleigh Road to develop as the showroom and after sales facilities. This site had outlived its usefulness by the early 1960s and a further plot of land was purchased opposite the main garage, on the corner of Front Street and Bromley Avenue, where a purpose built two-storey showroom was erected, and opened in 1967. The now defunct site at the corner of Woodleigh Road became Monkseaton Branch Library.

Next to the main garage building on Cauldwell Lane, a small shop was acquired, which served as a parts and accessories department for the garage. With the advent of large out of town car dealerships, the 77 year old business began to suffer and was forced to close in 2002. The garage site and showroom were later replaced with controversial apartment blocks.

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The Regal Cinema

Built in Art Deco style, typical of the period, the Regal Cinema occupied a site at the top of Cauldwell Lane. Its imposing frontage curved neatly around the corner into Seatonville Road, where it backed onto Paignton Avenue.

Regal Cinema was a limited company formed by three local men; Donald Gilbert, G.H. Bates and H.S. Dixon, along with Edward Hinge who ran a cinema circuit throughout the north-east. Designed by Dixon & Bell (Architects), the construction contract was awarded to Thomas Clements of Newcastle upon Tyne. Building work commenced in 1935 and the doors were first opened to the public on 4th November 1936 with the first picture to be shown, 'Anything Goes' starring Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman.

The cinema building incorporated three adjoining single storey shops which were situated on Cauldwell Lane.

The auditorium had a seating capacity of 1,014 and was a very popular venue for many years, drawing large audiences from all over the area. Children's Saturday matinees and performances also proved to be an extremely popular attraction.

The 'Regal' Cinema in 1936. A landmark at West Monkseaton for over 60 years.
In July 1949, ownership of the Regal transferred to Essoldo Cinemas, however the established name was retained.

By the early 1960s, television audiences had probably cut into the market causing a significant decline in attendance figures, and so on 11th August 1964, the cinema closed with its final film, 'The Longest Day'. Afterwards, the building became a bingo hall for a period of just over seven years.

By the early 1970s, public demand seemed to have changed, and the building underwent extensive renovations and internal modernisation work including a full refit, to reopen as the 'Classic' Cinema on 2nd April 1972. The first film to be shown in the new cinema was 'Waterloo' starring Rod Steiger.

In July 1977, further alteration work took place to convert it to a twin-screen theatre, which later operated under the name of the 'Cannon'.

With the advent of modern multiplex theatres, and declining audiences, the cinema which had once again been renamed, this time as the 'ABC', closed its doors for the last time on 15th April 1999.

The grand old building with its landmark corner frontage was demolished in August 2000 to be replaced with studio style housing apartments.

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  Monkseaton Banks

Lloyds Bank, Monkseaton in 1982.
It is only in recent years that the last bank in Monkseaton ceased trading.

The convenience of 'Plastic Money', Credit and Debit cards, the introduction of ATM machines and, of course, Internet Banking has meant that there is no longer a need for a physical banking service in the village.

It is quite sad that all the established banks which once formed a major part of the daily business in Monkseaton have gradually disappeared. Five banks once existed here, and their place has now been taken by an automated cashpoint machine, at the corner of Front Street and Chapel Lane.

As we look at these buildings, starting from West Monkseaton, the first bank was Barclays, which stood at 42 Earsdon Road from the 1960s until its closure in the 1990s when it afterwards become West Monkseaton Post Office.

Following the main road into Monkseaton, the next bank was situated at 42 Cauldwell Lane. This was the National Provincial (later to become the National Westminster or NatWest), which existed from the 1960s to the 1990s.

A little further down the road, the Trustee Savings Bank (TSB), stood on the corner of Front Street and Pykerley Road from the 1950s to the early 1990s. Moving further east onto Front Street, Lloyds was a modern purpose built detached single storey building which stood between Monkseaton House and the Monkseaton Arms at No. 54 Front Street, and was also the last one to close down (1960s to the late 1990s).

The oldest and longest established bank in Monkseaton however, was Martin's Bank, situated at No. 24 Front Street which existed from about 1927 to the 1970s.

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  Norie Electrical

Nories Electrical Shop under demolition in the 1960s. The premises were replaced by a modern building which still stands today.
Coronation Row Cottages stood immediately to the east of the old Black Horse Inn. Many of these cottages were demolished when the Black Horse Inn was rebuilt in 1936; however one of the cottages remained and was used as an office and workshop that was later to become familiar as Norie Electrical.

Reg Norie Senior established the business in 1908, which in 1945 was renamed Norie's Electrical Construction Company. It was around this time that a bow window frontage was added to the cottage to convert it into a little shop that many people will remember.

During the mid 1960s, the building was demolished and completely rebuilt as a modern shop, but carefully styled to remain in keeping with the pattern of the previous building. It was named 'Grid House'.

Over the years, the business thrived in Monkseaton, and was well stocked with a vast selection of electrical goods and general hardware. As the shop was so centrally situated in the village, part of the premises were converted into a coffee shop for a time, and it became a popular venue for a morning chat, a hot drink and a bite to eat!

The large house next door, No. 66 Front Street, was for a time owned by Reg Norie Junior, and later converted to accommodate a launderette to compliment the business. Combined with the growth of out of town shops and discount stores, the business fell into a short decline so Reg Norie took this opportunity to retire, and the business finally ceased trading in 1984. The premises were taken over by R. Monckton-Milnes and Partners and the premises were re-named 'Collingham House'.

Monckton-Milnes were an established firm of Independent Financial Advisors and Insurance Brokers, founded in 1964 by Mr. Robert Monckton-Milnes of Darlington, and first operated from a practice in Park Avenue, Whitley Bay. The company had a portfolio of over 10,000 clients, both individual and corporate, covering a world wide geographic range. Since this business ceased, the premises now accommodate an optometrists: N & J Robinson.

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  West Monkseaton Open Cast

The landscape scars are evident in this 1949 view of West Monkseaton open cast site. Thorntree Drive, Melville Gardens, Marina Drive and part of Sandringham Drive (visible to the top centre of the picture) are still under construction and the small rectangular area of land adjacent to Earsdon Road which comprises part of Newsteads Farm remains intact. The Railway line runs diagonally from the left towards West Monkseaton Station where it passes under Earsdon Road bridge. The houses to the lower left corner comprise Uplands and Hillfield.
After the Second World War, the country was saddled with huge debts, food was in short supply and rationing was still in force, however the potential earnings from coal were exploited by the government to assist in meeting these debts.

In February 1948, the first coal was removed from a site on Rake Lane and, by the summer of the same year, open cast mining work commenced at West Monkseaton on the area adjacent to the new station and railway line (formerly part of Monkseaton North West Farm — Newsteads).

The contractors at Rake Lane were Holloway Bros. and those at West Monkseaton were Sir Lindsay Parkinson.

The Rake Lane site was short lived and restored in 1949; however the terrific upheaval at West Monkseaton became a prominent feature of the local landscape which lasted 5 years and affected many housing development plans around the area. For a short while, the huge spoil heaps around the site earned it the nickname of 'The Monkseaton Alps'.

Heavy machinery and earth-moving equipment could be heard night and day and was sometimes enlivened by the occasional sound of explosives.

Water and mud enveloped much of the site, and on dry or windy days, the entire area was shrouded in clouds of swirling choking grey dust which settled everywhere.

Earsdon Road was left intact, and the 120 foot deep site which comprised a large area of land, stretched from the rear of Newsteads Farm buildings on Earsdon Road towards Uplands, extending north beyond the present Monkseaton Drive and Golf Course and as far west as Wellfield.

Many residents in Uplands suffered flooding to their houses and rear gardens, and it took years for the National Coal Board to settle the resulting compensation claims.

Millions of tons of coal were won here and after five years mining, the site became exhausted and finally closed down in June 1953 to allow for reclamation of the land, much to the relief of the residents.

A short string of allotment gardens were then created next to West Monkseaton Station, and eventually the remaining land was allocated for building purposes, where part of Red House Farm Estate and the present supermarket are currently situated.

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  Whitley Bay Ice Rink

Whitley Bay Ice Rink in 2011.
Built in 1954, Whitley Bay Ice Rink was the idea of a Mr J. Smith (best known to many people as ‘Icy’ Smith) who was the then owner of Durham Ice Rink.

A suitable site was secured at the South Eastern edge of West Park, Hillheads, and with a building cost of over £100,000, the rink first opened its doors to the public the following year in May 1955 and has remained under the ownership of the Smith family ever since.

Originally designed with a seating capacity of between 5,000 to 6,000 persons, the rink now has an actual capacity of 3,200.

The area of ice measures 56 metres x 24 metres which is laid down through a series of pipes which throw out a fine spray that is frozen in thin layers. This goes on until the ice reaches the required thickness which can take up to 2 days of continuous work. Once this has been achieved, an ice resurfacing machine is run over it, 'shaving' off a fine layer of surface ice and replacing it with a film of water which freezes to create a flat surface making the ice suitable for skating. As the ice becomes scored with constant use, the ice resurfacer is used to level the surface and keep it safe for skating.

The first ice hockey match at the Hillheads rink was played on December 1st 1956. Back then there were no local trained players, so with the rink being owned by the same family that ran the Durham rink, the more established Durham Wasps played games north of the Tyne under the title of Whitley Wasps, however it was not until 1964 that the Whitley Warriors were born and they took to the ice for the first time at Hillheads against a team from the Oxford & Cambridge Universities, and the rink continues to be the home venue for the very successful Whitley Warriors Ice Hockey Team.

In the 1960’s part of the building was modified to incorporate a tenpin bowling alley which became known as the ‘Ice Bowl’. This area also included pool tables, a snack bar and clubroom, however a decline in demand saw the bowling alley close in 2007.

Several more modifications and alterations over the years brought the building up to modern day environmental and safety standards, which included significant soundproofing particularly when the rink became a popular indoor venue for pop concerts which were held from the 1970s to the mid 1990s with many famous national and international artistes performing here. Additionally, over the years, many famous skaters have also visited Whitley Bay Ice Rink to perform their routines and during 2005 the building was used as a film set by the BBC.

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  Scott & Robson

Mr & Mrs C.P. Scott oversee a delivery to their shop in 1906. (The original Ship Inn is also evident to the left of the picture.)
Standing in the very heart of Monkseaton Village, it could be argued that one of the oldest streets still remaining is Percy Terrace.

This street runs in an easterly direction from the junction of Front Street and Roseberry Terrace, ending at the junction with Relton Terrace (Formerly known as Brewery or Turpin’s Lane).

Originally, most of the south side of Percy Terrace was taken up by the rear of Monkseaton Brewery and its stable blocks, where much of the old stonework is still evident, all of which at one time formed different parts of the Brewery and outbuildings.

The houses and access paths of Nos. 1 to 7 Percy Terrace were laid out slightly above ground level, due to the elevation of the road, and stonework is clearly evident at the base of these buildings.

Old ordnance survey maps suggest that these houses were probably built during the 1880s, however it is known that the end building on Percy Terrace which for many years was a General Dealers Shop, existed as far back as the early 1800s, and during its lifetime has been a Blacksmiths, a Grocers, and a Newsagency.

In 1904, the shop was run as a grocery store by a Christopher and Margaret Scott, who resided next door.

The shop was probably once one of the main provision outlets in Monkseaton Village, which traded under the name of ‘Scott & Robson’. As well as selling general foodstuffs and provisions they also sold a large selection of local farm produce.

In 1926, Scott & Robson ceased trading and the premises were sold to a Mr George Haimes who took over the business to include Confectionery and Newspapers.

In 1960, the business came into the hands of A. MacBride, and later to a Mr George Parnaby where it was run as a General Dealers and Newsagency before its eventual closure and conversion to a dwelling house in 2004.
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