Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene, a public park in the east end of Newcastle upon TyneEngland, occupies the narrow steep-sided valley of a small river known as the Ouseburn, flowing south to join the River Tyne: in north-east England, such valleys are commonly known as denes. In fact the name ‘Jesmond’ means ‘mouth of the Ouseburn’.

Lord Armstrong and his wife, of the now-demolished Jesmond Dean (sic) house nearby, first laid out the park during the 1860s. The design is intended to reflect a rural setting, with woodland, crags, waterfalls and pools. Lord Armstrong gave the park to the people of Newcastle, and it is now owned by Newcastle City Council. The current Jesmond Dene House adjoining the dene was the mansion of Armstrong’s business partner Andrew Noble. It is now a luxury hotel.

The (now closed to road traffic) iron-constructed Armstrong Bridge spans the south end of the Dene and hosts Jesmond Food Market every third Saturday of the month. The building of a replacement road and tunnel, the Cradlewell By-pass, was the subject of a road protest camp around 1993, due to the destruction of many 200-year-old trees. (See also Cradlewell.)

 

Jesmond Dene also contains a free-entry petting zoo known as “Pets’ Corner”, which has been a popular family attraction since the 1960s. Attractions within Jesmond Dene include a coffee shop and a conference centre. The Fisherman’s Lodge restaurant has now closed, and in October 2016 its derelict main building, previously a Victorian villa, was gutted by fire.

The dawn chorus of Jesmond Dene has been professionally recorded and has been used in various workplace and hospital rehabilitation facilities.

As of 2011, the field area and pets corner have been redeveloped. The redevelopment includes a new road and a bridge over the Ouseburn river.

Jesmond Dene is also the home of Newcastle’s oldest religious building, St Mary’s Chapel. The chapel, now in ruins, was once a site of much significance, attracting a great number of visitors. Pilgrim Street, in the centre of Newcastle, is believed to be named after the many pilgrims passing through on their way to visit the chapel.

In July 2014, the Old Mill in the Dene was vandalised with graffiti tags, since removed.