Freeman Road

The History of Freeman Road by Barrie Braidford

Freeman Hospital, is named after the road on which it stands, Freeman Road. Now it wasn’t always Freeman Road. Oh no, it used to be Newton Road, named after Henry W Newton, Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1883 and again in 1902, he was an eminent member of society and was known as the father of Newcastle city Council of which he was a founder member and member for 39 years. He was also a surgeon and chairman of many committees, including the Laing art Gallery and Libraries committee. In 1883 Newton Road was created to enable coals from Gosforth colliery to be transported to Heaton where there was a major rail junction. In the 1790,s one Archibald Freeman operated a windmill on windmill hill in Gateshead, and in 1795 his son Patrick Freeman known as Paddy Freeman Came to the “Old Mill” in Jesmond Dene as miller, to mill corn as a tenant of Mathew Ridley who owned the Mill at that time. He also took on High Heaton farm with an acreage of 270 acres. The area around the Hospital is still known as High Heaton. It is thought that this Patrick died in 1840 but there is no proof. The first national census of 1841 records the occupier of the farm as Patrick Freeman aged 20 presumably the son, I will call him Paddy 2, in the next census 10 years later, Paddy 2 has aged to 35 and has a wife Ann aged 30 and yet another Patrick, Paddy 3 aged 6.

In Wards Directory of 1855 Paddy 2 is still shown as farmer and miller but must have given up the mill as in 1886 a man aptly named Pigg is shown as the tenant of the mill where he ground spoiled corn for pig food known as pollards. The next year the mill was occupied by John Charlton who used the mill to grind flint which was added to the clay to give added hardness, at the potteries at the mouth of the Ouseburn ( the river on which the mill is situated). In the 1861 census Paddy 2 is shown as 44 and Ann as 39 and Paddy 3 as 16, still farming the area but without the mill which was shortly to be incorporated into the private grounds of Jesmond Dene which was bought by the wealthy industrialist, William George Armstrong, who made a gift of Jesmond Dene to the City of Newcastle in 1883.

This was the last heard of the Freemans as in the 1871 census, Isaac Dodd 35 is shown as working the farm now only 50 acres which by now had become known locally as Paddy Freemans. It is known that Paddy 2 moved to a Cambois Farm near Sleekburn. The lake which is now in the well known Paddy Freemans Park, used to be the farm duck pond, and in the 1890,s it was made into its present shape and made user friendly. An island which was in the lake was later removed. It has always proved to be an excellent park and is frequented by generation after generation of Geordies as well as visitors from further afield. There is an active model boat club in the park and although I am not a member I do take my own radio controlled torpedoe boat there to chill out sometimes. Any way in 1928 the section of Newton Road that passes Paddy Freemans Park was renamed Freeman Road, that is the section from the Park main entrance (the roundabout to the south of the hospital) and the (roundabout at the bottom of the hill to the north of the hospital). Hence the FREEMAN HOSPITAL. A section of the Park is also used as the helicopter landing pad for the hospital when Transplant Organs are brought in by air. And when I was a lad we used to come to Paddies on a Saturday afternoon to play football on the playing field, but the pitches were often taken so we used to cross the road, climb over the fence and play where the main car park of the hospital is today. And we were often chased away by an irate farmer and there is at least one pair of football shorts and a jersy that I left there in one panic get away, (they were the goal posts). My mother often quizzed me as to where they had went but I never told her.

Barrie Braidford FHLTA committee.