Preston Cottage, Preston Village, North Shields
To most people, a building described as a "cottage" conjures up images of a small, single storey stone building with a thatched roof and rose arch outside the front door. Preston Cottage has none of these features. It is a magnificent mansion house with a stone-pillared portico and a tower which affords a most fabulous view in all directions.
The grounds in which the house stands measured three quaters of an acre in 1744 and included the land on which Ye Old Tuck Shop stands today. In those days they were known as the Calf Close or the Knowles and there were certainly buildings there = probably stables and byres and the like.
The present house, however began life in 1809 after which extensions were added from time to time, including the tower which was apparently erected in response to the building of Preston Tower on Preston Road in the 1860's. An early form of keeping up with the Jones' perhaps?
The most noticeable feature of Preston Cottage, the tower, houses a room designed as a sewing room for the wife of the man who had it built - probably Henery Wilson the flour dealer. Villagers are familiar with the tradition of flags being raised there on the Sovereign's birthday and St, George's day - a tradition which is being upheld by the current owners, Mr. and Mrs, Clouston.
Part of Preston Cottage is reputed to have been, at one time, a public house known as the Plain (or Plane) tree Inn and recent work on the house has revealed flagstones and parts of walls which seem to give credibility to this theory but other evidence has proved scarce. However, at least two former occupants have had connections with the licensed trade. Roger Shaw, who resided there in 1886, was a retired publican whilst, from 1891 until his death in the early part of this century, Andrew Nichol Dodds, the landlord of the Turks Head in Tynemouth Village lived at Preston Cottage.
Nowadays, the house has been adapted to suit modern living but it has lost none of its character. The grounds, containing a tennis court, a small cottage called Garden Cottage and various other outbuildings have, thankfully, not fallen victim to "developers". One hopes they will remain "undeveloped" so that some of Preston Village's heritage is preserved.
Turning away from Preston Cottage and moving towards Front Street, we pass one of the more recent additions to the Village.
and road surfaces laid upon it. It is still possible to walk its full length and several relics from the old days can be seen along its route, but the pedestrian should note that great care must be taken since it is now crossed by the very busy Beach Road. On the left of the track, just beyond the end of Preston Terrace, lie several large wooden beams - remnants of the factories and timber yard which stood on the site for much of the early part of this century. As the lane bends to the right, it runs alongside a hedge which is one of those planted at the time of the enclosure of Preston in about 1649 - the bushes growing there today are probably offspring of the originals. Beyond beach Road on the right, some sections of the stone walls which once surrounded Whitehouse Farm.
Retracing our steps we return to Preston Terrace, opposite which are the gates of Walton Park