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Brighton Avenue

Back when I was younger than I am now, I attended school. Big shock. More to the point, I attended Brighton Avenue School. That’s not particularly strange either; it was the local school after all, which I could see (before they pulled the old buildings down) from my house. What was a little strange, and never explained by any of the people I’d casually thought to ask over the years, was why it was Brighton Avenue. If you take a look at the school’s location, you’ll find a distinct lack of Brighton Avenue (I should point out that I went to school I went to the lovely original buildings which stood where the playing fields now are. The modern buildings were opened just after I left and were built on what had been waste ground but before that held more housing. I’ve always had it on very good authority that what stood there wasn’t a Brighton Avenue though—incidentally, the street which was there, Ravensworth Terrace, actually still exists, transported brick by brick to Beamish Museum).

Scanned section of the old OS map, with Brighton Avenue (now road) and the school highlighted

Brighton Avenue

Scanned section of the old OS map, with Brighton Avenue (now road) and the school highlighted

So why Brighton Avenue School was Brighton Avenue, rather than say Brighton Road, was one of those little personal mysteries we all have scattered in out lives. Things we’d sort of like to know, and occasionally remember to ask about, but never get round to properly researching when Google fails to shed instant light. Except it’s not a mystery any more (as you may have guessed from there being a blog post about it). One of my obsessions (on a level to neatly match little personal mysteries) is with maps, modern and old. Hence I bought a handful of old map reprints for my enjoyment (may I recommend the service of Alan Godfrey Maps while I’m at it). One of those was the 1894 OS map of south Gateshead (actually, the second edition of 1897). I can only presume I’ve never seen this before because right there is clearly marked Brighton Avenue (the highlighting in that scanned section is obviously mine). Today it would be, and is, called Brighton Road and indeed runs by the school. Everybody seems to have forgotten that it was originally Avenue. I have no idea when that changed, though I do have a 1930-something map with Brighton Road marked, so it must have been in those 40 years or so. Of course this had always been a strong candidate for an explanation, and wasn’t that uncommon (the Rawling Street shown a little further south on that section is now also a road for example) but it’s nice to finally know.

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