Step Back in Time on Jenny’s Journey

New Guided Tours from the Ouseburn Trust

Main image: Jenny’s class photograph. She is first on the left in the second row. (Photo © Jean Chesters)

Additional material by Lesley Turner

Children will be transported back a hundred years by embarking on ‘Jenny’s Journey’, a self-guided tour developed by trainee teachers from Northumbria University in coordination with the Ouseburn Trust.

Jenny was a real girl who grew up in the valley in the early 20th century, with details and photographs of her childhood having been kindly shared with the Trust by her daughter Jean.

The learning package includes a video message from Jenny, inviting children to visit the Ouseburn and see how it has changed, plus old photographs, maps, viewpoint prompts and everything needed to arrange a school trip or family visit.

Jenny’s Journey for Schools

The tour is ideal for school visits, meeting requirements of Key Stage 1 History, Geography

Northumbria University Trainee Teachers with Jenny's daughter Jean Chesters

Northumbria University Trainee Teachers with Jenny’s daughter Jean Chesters

and Science, and is also available as a learning pack available to families.

Particular emphasis is placed on the senses, with children being asked to observe what they can see, hear and feel, and how these relate back to Jenny’s time.

The children can then follow up the visit by writing a postcard for Jenny, telling her what has changed since 1914.

Schools can download the video and trail map from the Trust’s newly revamped website, along with plenty of guidance for using Jenny’s Journey as a class visit. The materials are free and can easily be used to complement a trip to the Ouseburn Valley, taking in Seven Stories, the Victoria Tunnel, Northern Print or the Ouseburn Farm.

Jenny’s Journey for Families

The pack can also be easily adapted as a ‘walk with a purpose’ for families.

The Blakey family from Monkseaton­ were the first to try out the tour at the beginning of January.

The Blakey family with their postcards to Jenny

The Blakey family with their postcards to Jenny

Joanna and Paul, along with sons Sam (8) and Jackson (5) retraced Jenny’s steps from Crawford’s Bridge, the oldest in Newcastle, now overlooked by the 1970s Metro bridge.

Along their way they encountered the animals at Ouseburn Farm and discovered the remains of the old leadworks.

Joining onto the river footpath they marvelled at See Song Sang, Seven Stories’ magical dreamboat, and learnt about how the old Cluny whisky building has been adapted for various uses in the present day.

Their journey culminated opposite the old river slipway and pigeon lofts, where it became evident that some of the favourite pastimes of yesteryear are still very much alive today.

“I think it was really interesting that most of the buildings were still there because I would have thought they would have just fallen down,” says Sam.

Dad Paul reflects: “I thought it was very moving, very touching, very personal. It was certainly really interesting to see the old and the new, because it has changed so much and yet there is so much still the same.”

In the video Jenny points out that children used to play on the old rubbish tip which was located just up the valley from Crawford’s Bridge. Mum Joanna says: “Kids today aren’t used to playing out, or to the extreme of playing on a tip like Jenny did. They probably can’t even get their head around that idea! But going and visiting the places where she used to play makes it so much more real.”

Families can follow Jenny’s Journey themselves using the materials on the website, or can come along on guided walks scheduled to take place this February half-term. These will set off from the Ouseburn Trust, in Arch 6, Stepney Bank on Wednesday 19th February at 1.30pm, then Thursday 20th at 11am and Friday 21st at 1.30pm.

For more details or to book a guided walk, please call the Ouseburn Trust on 0191 6596 or email

The short video introducing Jenny’s Journey is available to view below.

Jenny’s Video from Ouseburn Trust on Vimeo.