Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Take Part in Walking Tour with a Difference

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Take Part in Walking Tour with a Difference

Article excerpt

A WIDOW who clung onto her cottage home as a pioneering new estate was being built around her and an enterprising woman who sold goods from her front window in the 1930s are being brought back to life in a theatrical walking tour of a Newcastle housing estate.

Pendower in Benwell - one of Britain's first council estates built to accommodate soldiers returning home from the First World War - is offering visitors an unique insight into a fascinating past and its colourful former inhabitants, who will be played by a mix of current residents and professional actors.

The tours will be held next month, for the first time, as part of Heritage Open Days. This annual event, where we get a chance to peek behind closed doors of places normally inaccessible to the public, delights in finding new additions to its list of participating venues.

And no doubt this latest one will be amongst the most intriguing to visitors, who will be escorted through streets and gardens to watch costumed characters play out the history of the estate, from the moment Newcastle Corporation announced in 1919 its intention to build "Homes for Heroes".

These houses, to be built "in the style of a traditional English village", were intended to be fit for the returning war-time heroes and the area drew upon a proud history, points out Richard Bliss, creative director of Projects Galore, the community arts company which has created the tour with the help of Pendower Good Neighbour Project.

Newcastle's West End was the beating heart, says Richard, of worldwide technological innovation and home to the city's wealthiest industrialists. So it was a fitting location for a shining example of housing innovation.

"We wanted to bring the hidden history of Pendower to a wider public," he says.

The tours will uncover the stories of such former inhabitants as Rachel McDougal, the widow of a worker on the nearby Pendower Hall, who persuaded the council to let her keep her old cottage for a shilling a year. …

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