Property gallery: Birtley stone-built family home is perfect for families

Built in 1903, this prominent stone-built property in Birtley is the perfect place to raise a family

The Witherspoons are one of the few lucky families to be able to call Rockville their home.

Since 1903, the prominent stone-built property in Birtley, near Chester le Street, has provided the perfect environment for families to blossom. And having raised their two children under its roof, Joe and Wendy Witherspoon know only too well the joy it brings.

The detached house, on The Avenue, has been home to the couple for the past 26 years.

Joe said: “It’s one of those houses that when you walk in, you just fall in love with it. It was built in 1903 by the Bolam family.

“They were quite a famous family in Birtley and I think they built the first cinema in the town.”

The house oozes an array of untouched Victorian features. From period fireplaces and large bay windows, to original plasterwork cornicing.

The couple have brought the property into the 21st Century, without detracting from its period charm. There’s even a turret providing stunning views. The house sits on the edge of what was formerly Birtley Hall, and is located within a conservation area.

All the fireplaces and cornicing in the house are original. In the lounge, the gold picked out in the ceiling was done by Wendy herself. She climbed up the ladder with a small paintbrush and spent five hours doing it.

“The ceilings are at least 10ft high in most rooms. The house is actually on the list of houses of historical interest in Gateshead,” said Joe.

Joe and Wendy Witherspoon at their home, Rockville in Birtley
Joe and Wendy Witherspoon at their home, Rockville in Birtley

The kitchen is where the family spend most of their time, according to Joe. There’s also a stunning lounge with fireplace and cornicing, as well as a formal dining room.

Joe said: “Our favourite room in the house has to be the lounge. It’s a haven for us. It gets the sun all day long and has nice big windows.

“The kitchen is very much a family space. We also have a large dining room but that’s just for special occasions. We call it the Christmas room. At Christmas we have a roaring fire and an eight foot Christmas tree which fills the bay window.”

Upstairs there are four bedrooms, one of which has an en suite shower room.

“There is also a luxury bathroom with double shower cubicle, and his and her wash basins.

The gardens, which include an 18th Century wall, are a paeticular feature of the property.”There is also a detached double garage, and driveway providing parking for four cars.

The location is a real selling point, according to Joe.

He said: “You can walk into the
town centre and there’s also a new supermarket nearby which is set to open in January. It also provides excellent communications to all parts of the North East, and the rest of the world as you can jet off from Newcastle airport.”

It’s a perfect family home, according to Joe.

“It’s a lovely big family house with plenty of bedrooms, a completely private garden, and a nice double garage. It’s also a great house for entertaining.

“The local primary school is in the top 200 primary schools in the UK.”

The couple’s children Chris, 32, Laura, 29, have long flown the nest and the arrival of their first grandchild is imminent.

“We will be very sad to leave such a wonderful family house.

“It’s been a great home for us, but with our first grandchild due in a couple of weeks, the plan is to move closer to the children.

“We are initially looking to move to Durham and maybe Sheffield in the not too distant future.”

  • Rockville, 27 The Avenue, Birtley, Gateshead, is for sale through Your Move Chris Stonock at £485,000, tel: 0191 388 2129.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer