Monday, 25 May 2015

Orange Street - Annitsford

In May 1916 the Northumbrian and Tyneside newspapers reported on the death of Mr Robert Orange of Annitsford. Mr Orange was aged 74 and was quite a prominent figure in his local community.
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"The death or Mr. Robert Orange, which took place at his residence, Front Street, Annitsford, on Saturday, removes one of the oldest tradesmen in the district. The deceased, who was 74 years old, was a native of Lucker, and for over forty years carried on a successful general business at Annitsford, which he gave up about three years ago. For over thirty years Mr. Orange took a deep interest in sheep farming. He owned considerable property at Annitsford. He leaves two sons and one daughter to mourn his loss."
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Robert Orange was born in 1842 at Lucker, Northumberland to John and Elizabeth Orange. His father was a master tailor. 

When he was around 27 years of age, Robert went to the US. He had returned within the next decade, and moved to Annitsford, Northumberland and opened a provision shop. It is possible that Robert made a little money while living in the US. In 1877 Robert was a witness to a stabbing case in the village.


On 19 January 1879, he married Mary Jane Cowen at St Nicholas, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Soon after this St Nicholas' church was elevated to Cathedral status. Soon after marriage, Mary Jane gave birth to a little girl. She was named Elizabeth to honour her paternal grandmother. Around this time Mary Jane's younger sister Ellen moved in with the family, often helping out by working in the shop.


In 1881 a middle-aged woman named Elizabeth Armstrong came into the shop, and "obtained [through] false pretences" a quarter of a pound of butter from Ellen Cowen, who was helping in Orange's shop that day. The butter was worth 5 1/2d. For this Elizabeth Armstrong was sentenced to fourteen days hard labour. As well as selling everyday groceries, Robert had a few horses and traps to take people to and from distant towns and villages.


It was also around this time that Robert Orange either acquired, or had built a street of houses which were known as Orange's Buildings.



From the Alnwick Mercury, published on
22 October 1881.

In the same year, Robert and Mary Jane had a second child, a son who they named John. Sadly baby John died the same year. In 1882 the Oranges welcomed a second son, who they named Robert. The Oranges went on to have three more sons after this; Henry Walter who died in infancy, a second John and another Henry Walter, who also died like his namesake. 


In 1888 the Oranges had their final child, a little girl named Ellen Cowen Orange, obviously named after her maternal aunt. Sadly, Mary Jane Orange died soon after giving birth to Ellen. Robert was now aged 46, a widower and a father of four young children. Only two years later, his eldest daughter Elizabeth sadly died aged just 10.


On 9 January 1895 Robert remarried at Chatton, Northumberland to Mary Orange, the daughter of his first cousin.



From the Newcastle Courant.
Robert then tried to better his business, wanting an "on and off licence" for his shop in Annitsford. However the nearest licensed premises were only a quarter of a mile away and some locals, in particular John Belshaw objected and the application was refused. Soon after Robert did manage to acquire a 'beer-off' license. 



In 1900 he applied for a 'beer-on' license. The local publican, Henry Clarke of the Bridge Inn objected, John Belshaw did for a second time. Again his application was refused.

The following year Robert was appointed as an Overseer by the Weetslade Urban District Council.

In March 1902 Robert submitted a plan for eight houses to be built on some of his land at Annitsford, but this was rejected. 

Exactly one year later Robert submitted yet another plan for eight self-contained houses on the same strip of land in Annitsford. This plan was again rejected. One month later an Robert submitted an amended plan to the council. This time the yard space had been increased to 306 square feet. This appeared to be good enough for the council, and finally Robert's plan of eight self-contained houses was accepted, and Orange Street was built in the same year.

In 1904 Robert had the water main and drains installed into his properties, with a tap in each yard. 

Even after he had the eight houses built, Robert still owned substantial land in Annitsford and the surrounding area. In 1909 he lent one of his fields to the recently built St John's Roman Catholic Church, for the annual gala to take place on. Between 300 and 400 people were in attendance.

In 1912, Robert's second wife Mary Orange died aged 60. 


Robert formerly retired from his business in July 1914 and his wares were auctioned off from his home at 12 Front Street, Annitsford. When Robert died in 1916 he still had a great number in his possession.