Looking Back at Spital Dene Farm

Spittal Dene Farm.
Spittal Dene Farm.

In June 1881 George Pelham Dixon produced a watercolour sketch of the buildings at Spital Dene Farm in King Edward Road, North Shields.

He is described in Marshall Hall’s Artists Of Northumbria as a son of George Dixon, the first borough librarian of Tynemouth. He was a member of both North and South Shields art clubs. A self-taught artist, he began teaching at an early age and went on to become headmaster of schools in Leeds and Morley. He died at Gateshead in 1898.

The 1881 census listed the head of household at the farm as Henry C. Nellis, 33, farming 68 acres with “2 Clowns and 1 Boy”. This extraordinary description, which escaped censorship by the census clerk, presumably describes his opinion of his brothers, William and Matthew.

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