COTTAGE: What would Dickens say?

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I recently enjoyed a pleasant walk from Cullercoats to Tynemouth, with the intention to visit the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House Museum.

The museum had recently received a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant to improve the building so I was very interested to see the improvements.

Arriving at Tynemouth, it was all hustle and bustle, with people creating a theatre, which was already starting to look very festive for the start of The Mouth of the Tyne Festival.

Journeying on, I arrived at the Watch House Museum.

On making my way to its side entrance, I was taken aback at the sight of a dishevelled looking house.

Was this from another time and place? To me it looked like a Dickensian prop for a novel.

Or was it perhaps, an extra festival attraction for the revellers to visit, showing them how it was once upon a time?

But no, l was informed it was the Brigade Cottage, as it is now.

I pondered, what if Charles Dickens had seen the cottage, as it is now, when visiting Tynemouth in 1867 with his friend and agent Dobson, visiting especially to walk along the pier, and for Dickens to observe, as only he could, the ships and boats?

They were totally unaware of what blustery weather can serve up to the observers of ships and boats – yes, they were both rewarded with a good soaking.

However, such an historical footnote digresses from the cottage needs.

But what if Mr Dickens could see the cottage as it is now? l’m sure he would have spoken up with vigour, demanding the cottage be respectfully restored.

And perhaps, the said ghost which roams the Watch House is Dickens, walking up and down, furious at the dishevelled state of the cottage and the lack of action to bring about its much-needed improvements.

The wonderful Mouth of the Tyne Festival, (congratulations to the organisers), which had received so much care and attention, might well have caused Mr Dickens even more agitation, with him fuming to himself, why is not such wonderful care and attention being lavished on the cottage?

So who should be responsible to take up the baton and seek out much needed funding for the sad Watch House Cottage?

Tom Cruikshanks

Whitley Bay