Clayton, Westlands, Seabridge and Thistleberry
These four areas, each a local election ward in its own right, are residential suburbs to the immediate south of the town, stretching towards the M6 motorway, which have seen significant development in the last 50 years as Newcastle has grown.
Paul grew up on the Clayton Road, where his family moved after terraces were compulsory purchased in the town for modernisation in 1970, and then in Seabridge, on the Stockwood Road development, which was first built in the 1960s.
Clayton is another of Newcastle’s constituent villages which was mentioned in the Domesday book (‘Claitone’ – meaning exactly as it sounds) and with Seabridge used to form its own parish, until finally absorbed into Newcastle in 1932.
The grand, grade II listed Clayton Hall was taken over in the Second World War,by the Fleet Air Arm, which officially renamed it HMS Daedalus, and also built aircraft hangars along nearby Northwood Lane. A girls grammar school after the war, it is now home to Clayton Hall Business and Language College, one of the most successful secondary schools in the county.
Clayton lies to eastern boundary of the constituency and is home, at Lilleshall Road, to Newcastle Town FC and Newcastle RUFC; anachronistically, the most southerly part of the extended village, dipping down towards Trentham Gardens, slips over into a northerly, jabbing finger of Stafford Borough.
Over the Clayton Road, the Westlands grew up as a mixed housing area of council housing side-by-side with a large private estate, built in the 1920s on the site of Westlands Farm and modelled on the Quaker developments seen elsewhere. The remainder of the old farm is now home to Newcastle Golf Club.
History is still evident, however, in ecclesiastical arrangements, with the Roman Catholic church of Our Lady & St Werburgh’s (built in 1957) in Clayton parish - just opposite the fine, contemporary architecture of St James’ Church (1966) - and the further Anglican church of St Andrew’s (1962) in its own Westlands parish.
Over time, the Westlands name has been adopted by new housing areas, keen to enjoy its aspirational cachet: off Sneyd Avenue to the bottom of Keele Bank, and down to Guernsey Drive towards the M6, where streams and tadpole ponds once stood – along with the old Seabridge Hall and Farm – when Paul grew up in the area.
Seabridge itself is a 12th century hamlet, but the name has nothing to do with Newcastle’s Norman fortress – variously Sheperugge or Shea Bridge in the past, it signifies either ‘sheep ridge’ or ‘sheep bridge’. In the 1980s, Seabridge also grew further, with the building of a mix of modern housing on the Westbury Park estate (mirrored in the north in the 1990s by the Waterhayes development near Chesterton).
Thistleberry takes in much of what residents call Westlands, around Paris Avenue to the west, and stretches right down into the town to Pooldam – a name which has very much to do with the castle. The Normans built their fort on what is now John O’Gaunt’s road, damming the Ashfields brook to create a moat stretching from Pooldam to Rotterdam on the present Poolfields estate.
Paul’s maternal family came from Poolfields, which has risen to its own challenges over recent years. The building in 2005 of the brand new St Giles’ & St George’s primary school on the fields of Pooldam – for which Paul pushed strongly, with its inspirational head – was a great signal of confidence for families in the area.