In 1835, Sir William George Armstrong (1st Baron Armstrong of Cragside) had Jesmond Dean (no longer in existence) built in preparation for his marriage. As his wealth increased he acquired chunks of the adjacent valley. By 1862, Armstrong had acquired most of the present Jesmond Dene, the land stretching from Jesmond Dene House in the North to Benton Bridge in the South. At this time he built the banqueting hall (now a controlled ruin) to cater for the increasing numbers of business clients he was entertaining. Armstrong enclosed the land and transformed the semi-industrial and wooded valley into his garden, including attractions such as a waterfall and a grotto, as well as planting many exotic species of trees and shrubs.
By the 1870s Armstrong was spending much of his time at Cragside, his home in Northumberland. In 1878, shortly after its opening Armstrong donated Armstrong Bridge to the townspeople of Newcastle. Two years later he donated Armstrong Park (the area south of Armstrong bridge to Heaton Park). In 1883, Armstrong presented 'Jesmond Dean' to the Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of Newcastle upon Tyne, as a Public Park to be maintained for all time as an oasis of natural beauty within an urban setting. The Prince and Princess of Wales officially opened Jesmond Dene to the public in 1884. Following the death of Lady Nobel at Jesmond Dene House in 1931, the Dene was extended northwards as far as Castle Farm Bridge. There was further extension in the 1970s when Newcastle City Council purchased land from Castle Farm Bridge to South Gosforth, at which time a pedestrian tunnel through the bridge was unblocked.
The (now closed to traffic) iron constructed Armstrong Bridge spans the Dene and is host to a crafts fair every Sunday morning. The building of a replacement road and tunnel, The Cradlewell By-pass, was the subject of a road protest camp, Earth Warriors At Jesmond Dene, around 1993, due to the destruction of many 200 year old trees.
Some of the description is taken from the excellent JesmondDene.org.uk
A few photos of the Ouseburn river in full flow sent in by reader Richard Walker of Spital Tongues.
Jesmond Dene - Mill / Waterfall
Jesmond Dene - Pets Corner
Jesmond Dene - Snow
Jesmond Dene - St Mary's Chapel
Postcards of Jesmond Dene then and now
History of Jesmond Dene
Newcastle City Council - Jesmond Dene and Pets Corner