Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Old Billiard Hall That Kept a Good Few Secrets in Its Pockets

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Old Billiard Hall That Kept a Good Few Secrets in Its Pockets

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVE MORTON Reporter

AN archaeological dig at the site of an old billiard hall has uncovered a location with a colourful history.

Standing behind the northern side of Priestpopple in Hexham, the hall was built around 1936 and operated for nearly 20 years.

With the County Hotel, Hexham Mart and Farmer's Club all close by, the billiard hall acquired something of a reputation as a place frequented by prostitutes looking for wealthy clients.

After closing in the 1950s the hall became part of Fewster's garage, then in the mid-1980s became a workshop and storeroom for Robinson & Cowell.

A series of digs by AAG Archaeology began by cutting trenches through the floor of the old billiard hall.

The only find from the billiard hall phase hints at the lavish furnishings it offered its gentlemen clients.

Discovering a crawlspace beneath the hall floor, the archaeologists entered an area which was framed by walls from a previous building on the site.

Once inside, the team found the top half - seat and back - of a Victorian ship's desk chair, identified as a chair from the billiard hall.

Further back, during the 19th century and early 20th century, the site was part of the gardens of Orchard House, built around 1825, now the home of Orchard House Veterinary Centre.

The very first trenches cut through the billiard hall floor seemed to con-firm this.

On demolition of the building, the careful use of hoeing made a row of plant beds visible, from which more finds were recovered.

Among the plant beds the AAG team found pottery and china that hinted at the luxuries enjoyed by the residents of Orchard House over the years.

The spout of a creamware coffee pot shaped like the barrel of a musket, dating from 1730-1760 was discovered.

Also found was a moulded stoneware fragment in the shape of a woman's head. …

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