Joe Lawson, Master Mason & the
Building of Stakeford Bridge
Joe Lawson who was a master mason, and responsible with the help of others of the building of Storey’s Buildings, Choppington, and many other streets in our locality. Joe Lawson was also responsible for the building of the High Main Stables in the Bothal Pit, and also assisted in the building of the first Stakeford Bridge in 1909.
It is also interesting to note that at the end of a Lodge Meeting of the West Sleekburn miners at the Lord Barrington Inn, Stakeford, on October 15th, 1890, the chairman, Mr. James Hunter, referred to the desirability of having a bridge built over the river at Stakeford.
The first meeting was held at the Grand Hotel, Ashington, and the first committee formed comprised James Hunter, William Tait (secretary) R. Lowther, M. Ferguson, W. Simpson, A. Cummings, J. Snowdon, P. Shaw, J. Ord, A. Hunter and E. Young, all from West Sleekburn and Stakeford. North Seaton was represented by Mr. Wheatley (ferryman) J. Johnson, G. Johnson, Mr. Young, A. Black and W. Trotter. From Cambois, J. McAllister, D. Wilkinson, T. Round and T. Agnew.
Bedlington were represented by Andrew Fairbairn, H. Sadler, J. Cramer, John Cain, Mr. Eddington, Mr. Laws, and Mr. Moralee. Mr. Ralph Young was the only person to represent Newbiggin.
It was on September 11th, 1909, that the bridge was finally opened. To commemorate the event, a bronze tablet was fixed to the eastern side of the bridge which bore the inscription: Stakeford Bridge, opened September 11th, 1909. Committee: John Bell, William Collins, James Cowan, John Craigs, John Cramer, Peter Dickinson, Alderman Andrew McHugh, Robert Nicholson, Ralph Rutherford, Henry Sadler, James Strong, William Tait, John Wilkinson, John Willis, Herbert Wilson, E. Charlton, engineers D. Balfour & Sons, contractors Brim & Co.
When the ceremony was completed the company went to the North Seaton Hotel where tea was served.
Scotland Gate Working Men’s Social Club
Scotland Gate Social Club was formed in 1910 in what was formerly a butcher’s shop. In around 1957 the club planned to build new premises on land bought from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the bargain price of £500. On this site stood the Church of England School which the committee had planned to demolish to make way for the new building.
The club needed to build new premises for two reasons. First, the building only held 900 members and they needed larger premises to compete with other clubs. Secondly the old building was affected by subsidence.
The club began in what was formerly a shop and house belonging to a butcher called Tom Bowman. There was only a very small bar and sitting room in the building.
The first major extensions were carried out during the Second World War when a concert room was added. About the same time improvements were done to the bar to double its size.
We have only found the name of two founder members they are Mr. J. Cox, who was chairman of the first committee, and Mr. W. Jenkinson, who was a committee member. The first steward was Mr. Robert Donald, and the first secretary was a man known as “Fisher” Smith.