CARVER AND GUILDER
Situated in the Unconsecrated/East Section of Jesmond Old Cemetery.
Thomas Tweedy was born in Manor Chare, within All Saints Parish, Newcastle upon Tyne and was baptised there on 7th April 1816.
His Father, also named Thomas Tweedy, was a sawyer born in Embleton, Northumberland, son of Joseph Tweedy, a farmer. His Mother was Isabella Hall, from Newcastle, daughter of Matthew Hall, a smith.
Thomas served an apprenticeship with William Angus of Newcastle and, because of this, he was entitled to become an honorary member of the Freemen of Newcastle. He was formally admitted on the 2nd July 1848.
By the 1850’s, using the name Thomas Hall Tweedy, he had set up his own business as a Carver and Guilder, opening a shop/workshop at the top of Grainger Street, Newcastle, where he produced all kinds of oak furniture. He also had a great interest in art and was a member of an art society where artists, including John Mole and John Brown, worked to develop their artistic talents. He also displayed and sold oil paintings in his shop.
Although he was a highly skilled carver himself, he also excelled as a businessman. He employed the very best of talented staff, with three of his best known apprentices being Gerard Robinson, Ralph Hedley and Elijah Copland. His window displays were renowned for their presentation of the workshop’s excellent carved pieces of furniture and he showed selected pieces in major exhibitions, both at home and abroad. Highly carved furniture was in fashion at that time and Thomas Hall Tweedy was credited with being the most famous wood carver in Great Britain and his reputation extended into Europe, with his work being in demand from the local aristocracy and the wealthy.
About 1870, Tweedy gave up his wood carving business and went into partnership with Alderman Thomas Pallister Barkas, who also had a business in Grainger Street, selling books. They leased the Central Exchange Building, situated at the junction of Grainger Street and Grey Street, redeveloping it as an Art Gallery and Reading Rooms. This soon became extremely popular and they had many subscribers. They later employed their own musical group and arranged concerts that were well attended.
On the 31st December, 1883, Tweedy and Barkas dissolved their partnership and Thomas and his wife, Hannah, retired to Ryton. They already had a residence there, where they brought up Hannah’s Great Niece as their own daughter. Thomas died on the 22nd June 1892 at his house in Ryton and was buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery on the 25th June 1892. Family, friends and several of his workmen attended to show their respects. Hannah died one year later. His will, after providing for his wife, left money to his many nieces and nephews, with the bulk of his assets going to Hannah’s Great Niece.
With grateful thanks to Pauline Tebbs for permission to use her research and article on Thomas Hall Tweedy.