Hebburn Lakes

Hebburn Lakes

Jean at the Lakes

Jean Davies at Hebburn Lakes, with Ellison Hall and the Park Bandstand in the background (Tommy Lake Photo)

Norman Dunn writes :Hebburn lakes (4 of them) stretched from fifty yards west of Campbell Park Road (where the lake bank can still be seen opposite Coniston Ave & the ‘Pumphouse’once stood)right up to the top end of Toner Avenue & Fountains Cres. Mountbatten Ave, Kelly Rd,Laburnum Grove, Fuschia Gdns, Lavender Walk, Acacia Grove, The Willows & of course the ‘new’ Clegwell School all would be underwater if the water ever returned.

The lakes were drained (not filled in)by the Council because they & the people of Hebburn were sickened at the deaths of three children who had been playing on the ice of ‘Sandy Bottom’ lake. They were drowned when the ice gave way. This was about 1958-59. The unfortunate children lived in Lindisfarne Rd/Fountains Cres, which in those days was very close to the lake. The lake nearest Campbell Park Rd was called ‘The First Lake’ by us local kids. There was a brick Pumphouse on the banktop with what looked like a ‘jetty’ extending out into the lake.This ‘jetty’ was the steel framework protecting the suction pipe leading to the pump strainer/filter 10ft underwater. We used to dive off it into the lake during the warm summers.

The next lake alongside Finchale Rd was ‘The Island Lake’ & Acacia Grove/Cherry Tree Walk are built where that lake was. The island was circular & surrounded by floating weeds, similar to lilies, at the closest point to land, with clear large stretches of water on the other side, and a long swim to get to it. Swans nested on the Island but not many people ventured onto it.

The lake nearest to the Park swings & banana slide etc we called ‘The Second Lake’ & this is where the remains of the old boathouse was. If you look at the photos in the ‘Lake’s’ section you will see these wooden remains sticking out at the waters edge. Water ran constantly out of the lakes, so water must have been coming in at the same rate. This stream ran under Campbell Park Rd next to where the ‘steps’ are to Coniston Ave, through a concrete pipe,then along a lovely Valley with mature Hawthorn trees/bushes, between Cambridge Ave & Windermere Cres. This valley was filled in by the council & I dont know why? From there the water ran past St Bede’s Well & under the Slag Heap, under Bedeburn Rd,then resurfaced & carried on through the allotments next to Springfield School, & into the River Don near the Cemetery bank.

We used to play around the lakes, the valley (known as ‘the dip’) & the Slag Heap in the late 50’s. There was quite a lot of wildlife around in those days, unlike now. Skylarks were always hovering high up singing all day long. Masses of Swifts & House Martins flew around the lakes feeding off the midges. Swans, Mallards, Canada Geese, Moorhens, Coots all frequented the lake. Sticklebacks, Minnows, small rainbow trout, crayfish, frogs, newts, toads & even leeches lived in the water. Jackdaws nested all over the Slag Heaps steep sides,(just like the gulls do at Marsden) as did the odd Kestrel Hawk. There were also ‘Little Owls’ nesting on the Slag aswell & I’ve seen the odd Barn Owls aswell. My mates dad used to go over there with his dogs & catch rabbits, because the place was ‘alive’ with them during darkness.He always came back with at least one rabbit.

Colin Williamson writes: – Seeing these pictures of the lakes brought back some great memories of when I was a kid playing there. Catching sticklebacks and newts in the ponds, playing in the stream by the pumphouse, sliding on the ice when the ponds froze over in the winter, coming home smelling of smoke after setting the grass on fire (sorry officer), building dugouts, camping out, the list is endles

Ron French Photo

Gordon French pictured at the Lakes in 1929 (with Slag Heap and Monkton in background)

A short extract from Alfred J Pawsey’s new book "Dear Old Hebburn"

For many years in the early pan of the twentieth century there were, on the south side of Hebburn Park, and stretching west almost as far as the present Mill Lane, four man-made ‘ponds’, locally known as ‘The Lakes’. They were formed through the flooding of old sandstone quarries. Some of the stones from the quarries were used to form the east side of the ‘first’ lake. (The eastern-most, commonly referred to as the ‘first lake’ because it was the first lake one met after leaving the ‘little’ gate exit from the park.) So perhaps it was already a wet area, and naturally ideal for the location of the man-made Hebburn Hall Ponds.

There was certainly one burn which ran from west to east through the pond area, (hence Burn Heads Road) which could have been responsible for keeping the water flowing through the ponds. It was common practice when I was a boy for local children to use the ponds for swimming. Swans were a common sight with their nests built well away from the shore. There was a boathouse situated on the lake close to the park.

Walking ’round the lakes’ was very popular especially on Sunday afternoons. The route was via the park gates (Park Road), passing the greenhouses and keeping left of the hand-stand and walking down to the little wooden gate; then we would turn right over the wooden bridge above what was then the flooded and obsolete quarry. keeping straight ahead past the rocky eastern edge of the ‘first’ lake; turn right where the track skirted two of the other three lakes, and carry on across the footpath through an open field to a gate on the ‘Waterworks’ road (now Mill Lane).

Having reached the road we turned right and walked about a half-mile to the grass covered mound, which was a reservoir, at the corner of the ‘High Road’ (i.e. Tech College and Victoria Road, West corner) then down the High Road’ to arrive back home. It was a lovely walk in the country. It was quite an adventure when we were children, taking a bottle of water and some sandwiches to eat ‘in the country’. During school summer holidays we always walked in the reverse direction.

Sylvia Graves by the Lakes (with park & Hebburn Hall in the background)

Ron French Photo
Another wonderful photo featuring Gordon French in 1929
Elmfield Road in the background
Len & Aunt Dot
Len Thompson (aged 3 yrs) by the Lakes with
Auntie Dot Bates ( nee Curry) in 1948
View from the park towards the lakes
(opposite view to top picture)
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