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National Gazetteer (1868) - Newcastle upon Tyne

"NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, comprises the parishes of St. Andrew, St. John, St. Nicholas, and All Saints, county Northumberland. It is one of the most ancient and distinguished seaports in Britain, also a post and market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, and a county of itself, though locally situated in the southern division of Northumberland, of which it is the county town, 15 miles N. of Durham, 158 S.E. of Glasgow, and 275 N. of London. It has a central railway station in Neville-street for the joint use of the North-Eastern and Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Carlisle railways, also a station in the Manors for the North Shields section of the North-Eastern line of railway, and several goods stations in other parts of the town. Constant communication is likewise maintained with all the chief ports of Great Britain, and many places on the continent of Europe, America, and the British colonies, by means of powerful steam vessels and regular traders engaged in the shipping trade, which has more than quadrupled in the last half century. The port, which is formed by the Tyne, is capable of admitting seaborne vessels of 400 tons, and has North Shields and Blythnook as its subparts."
"The town of Newcastle is of great antiquity, and occupies a commanding position on the northern bank of the river Tyne, about 9 miles distant from the sea at Tynemouth, where the river discharges itself into the German Ocean. Opposite to it is Gateshead, which may be considered a subport of Newcastle, situated on the southern bank of the Tyne, and in the adjoining county of Durham. Newcastle appears to have derived its origin from Pons AElii, the second station from the eastern extremity of the Roman wall built by the Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 120. In 1810, while digging the foundations of the county court-house, numerous Roman remains were met with, consisting of foundations of walls, two altars, a well, and a large quantity of pottery. "
"By the Saxons it was called Monkeceastre, from the number and magnificence of the religious houses and monastic institutions it contained, and from the strength of its position became the capital of the Northumbrian kings, who had a palace at Pandon. As a fortified town it was a place of great strength, being surrounded by a massive stone wall 2 miles in circuit, 8 feet thick, and 12 high, with a deep fosse 66 feet broad, and lofty towers flanking the gates, several of which still remain, as also part of the wall and fosse. In 876 it was taken by the Danes under one of their fiercest chieftains, Halfden, who cruelly burnt the town with its churches and monasteries, putting to death many of the monks and nuns. "
"Two years after the Norman conquest it was taken by Edgar Atheling, and Malcolm, King of Scotland, but was retaken by William the Conqueror, whose son, Robert Curthose, built the "New Castle" in 1080 on the site of the old citadel, from which castle the town derived its present name. In the rebellion of Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, against William Rufus, this fortress was taken by the king, and in the reign of Stephen it was held for a short time by the Scots. In the succeeding reigns of Henry II. and John it was much improved, and subsequently figures frequently in Border history as the rendezvous of the English troops preparing for the invasion of the neighbouring kingdom of Scotland. Under several of the early Anglo-Norman kings it was used as a mint town. "
"In the reign of Edward I. John Baliol did homage in the "New Castle" for his crown of Scotland, and in the same reign the town was rebuilt and walled round. In 1299 it was assaulted by Wallace, and was attacked, but without success, by David Bruce. In the reign of Charles I. it was surprised by the Scottish Covenanters under General Leslie, at which period its population must have been very considerable, as no fewer than 5,000 persons are said to have died here of the plague in 1636. During the civil war between the king and the parliament it changed hands several times, but was finally stormed by the Scots under the Earl of Leven, in October, 1644, while marching to join the parliamentarians in the S. In 1646 King Charles, having surrendered to the Scottish army, was brought by them from Newark and retained here till 1647, when he was transferred by the parliamentary commissioners to London. "
"The town was visited by the plague in 1717, and corn riots took place here in 1740. In the Scottish rebellion of 1745 the royal troops, under General Wade, occupied the town previous to their advance into Scotland against the Pretender. It sustained considerable damage from the floods which inundated the banks of the Tyne in 1771 and 1815. It is a borough by prescription, having been first chartered by Henry II., but the first mayor was not chosen till 1251. Under the Municipal Reform Act of 1835 the old corporation was dissolved, and the town divided into eight instead of twenty-four wards. It is governed by a mayor, who enjoys an allowance of £2,000, 14 aldermen, and 42 town councillors, with the style of "mayor and burgesses of the town and county of Newcastle-on-Tyne." The Recorder is appointed by the crown, but the sheriff, who is also returning officer, the town clerk, treasurer, and other officers, are chosen by the town council. "
"In 1861 it contained 13,979 inhabited houses, with an acreage of 5,730, and a revenue of about £65,000. The population in 1851 was 87,784, which in 1861 had increased to 109,108. It has returned two members to parliament since the 27th of Edward III., and under the Reform Act includes, besides the old borough, the townships of Byker, Elswick, Heaton, Jesmond, and Westgate, the number of electors being about 6,000. The town is well paved and lighted with gas, and abundantly supplied with pure water from the Whittle Dean water-works. The old part of the town skirts the river bank, along which stretches an extensive and convenient quay, 1,620 feet long. This part of the town is about 2 miles in length, and was until very recently solely composed of very narrow, crooked streets of old houses, locally called "chares," which wound in curves up the precipitous slopes of the cliffs on which the upper or modern town is built, at an elevation of 200 feet above the level of the river below. "
"Within the last quarter of a century, however, it has undergone a complete change, and although still inhabited by the poorer classes of the population, many new streets have been opened, and the old ones widened, for which purpose all the gates of the old wall, with the greater part of the towers, as well as many curious old buildings, have been swept away. In the upper and more modern parts of the town are spacious streets and squares, as Clayton, Grainger, Gay, Hood, Market, Nelson, and Shakspeare streets, and Eldon and Charlotte squares, &c., with regular ranges of buildings of an order far superior to those of most provincial towns. The houses of the upper town being built of a variety of freestone, present a massive and substantial appearance, giving ample scope for architectural adornment; while in the lower town most of the houses are very ancient, and many of them in the antique gable-fronted style of the reign of Elizabeth. "
"The principal extension of the town has been on the northern side, where the corporation have built a new market-house, and where many new streets of good shops have recently sprung up, connecting the town with the modern suburb of Brandling village in Jesmond township. To the W. of the town lies the new suburb of Rye Hill, in the townships of Westgate and Elswick;, and to the E., near the river, are extensive warehouses, factories, and other works connected with the commerce and manufactures of Newcastle. At the top of Grey-street stands the statue of Earl Grey, surmounting a lofty Ionic column, erected in 1836 to commemorate the passing of the Reform Act. Few provincial towns have a greater variety of public and ecclesiastical edifices. The Moot Hall, or county court-house, is a stone building, erected in 1810 from designs by Stokoe, at a cost of £52,000. It is situated on an eminence within the castle precincts, which belong to the county, and measures 144 feet by 72, with a portico of six Doric columns 28 feet high on the S. front, and a similar portico of four columns on the N. front. The assizes and sessions for the county of Northumberland are held in the grand hall, where most of the county business is transacted, and the ground floor is used as a prison for the temporary confinement of county prisoners preparatory to their removal to the county gaol. "
"The Central Exchange in Grey-street, built by Granger, presents externally the appearance of a triangular pile of Grecian building, ornamented at each corner by a dome, and fronting respectively Grey-street, Grainger-street, and Market-street, from all of which it may be entered; but internally it is composed of two semi-circles about 150 feet by 100, lit by a glass dome, and divided by twelve Ionic columns, which support the roof. The old exchange and guildhall, situated in Sandhill, is a spacious stone edifice with a steeple, originally erected in 1658 by Trollope, at a cost of £10,000, and restored in 1809. The guildhall, where the borough sessions and county court are held, occupies the upper story, and is a magnificent court-room 92 feet long by 30 wide, with a carved oak ceiling and walls elaborately ornamented. The courtroom of the Merchants Adventurers, now the chamber of commerce, is adorned with an exquisitely carved mantelpiece and subjects from Scripture history. On the basement story are the exchange and news-rooms, and under the arcade of eight Doric columns which support the eastern front the fish market is held. In the interior of the building are a statue of Charles II., portraits of Charles II., James II., and George III., by Ramsey, and of lords Eldon, Stowell, and Collingwood, and in the mayor's room the "branks," formerly used for the punishment of scolds. The borough gaol in Carlisle-square is a building of modern erection, with a central tower, surrounded by a stone wall 25 feet high, and entered under a massive gateway. "
"The Theatre Royal, situated in Grey-street, is an edifice of stone, with a portico entrance, and pediment supported by six lofty stone pillars. The barracks, which cover a space of 11 acres, are situated in the Ponteland road, and were built in 1806. The "New Castle," once so famous in history, is still an imposing pile, with walls in some places 15 feet thick, and a tower, or keep, 62 feet by 54, and 80 feet high, lately used as the county prison. It has been recently restored, and the Norman chapel, which measures 46 feet by 20, is now used as the Museum of the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries, rich in local archæological remains, and Roman and British coins. The moot-hall and outer walls of the castle are gone, but sufficient remains to show its once impregnable character. "
"Other public buildings of note are, the corn exchange and music hall, in St. Nicholas-square; the Royal Arcade, 100 feet by 250, built by Granger; the custom-house near the quay; the Trinity House in Broad Chare; the new hall of the Literary and Philosophical Society in Westgate-street, erected in 1825, and containing a library of nearly 30,000 volumes; the literary, scientific, and mechanics' institutions, and a museum of natural history in Blackett-street; Neville Hall in Westgate street, belonging to the College of Medicine, founded in 1851; assembly rooms in Westgate street, with a ball room 95 feet long by 36 wide; two sets of public baths and washhouses; the Northern Counties' club house in Eldon-square; a branch of the Bank of England in Grey-street; the savings-bank in the arcade; besides numerous commercial banks, insurance offices, hotels, benevolent foundations, and markets, amongst which last the corn market is deserving of particular notice. "
"The grandest structure of Newcastle, however, and perhaps in the N. of England, is the high-level bridge across the Tyne, connecting Gateshead with Newcastle, constructed by Sir Robert Stephenson at the cost of near £235,000. This vast work was undertaken with the double object of connecting the railways on the opposite sides of the Tyne, and at the same time forming a roadway that should avoid the dangerous approaches to the Tyne by way of Dean-street. It is 1,375 feet in length between the triumphal arches, the water way being 512 feet, and its width 32 feet, supported by six arches of open iron work, which rest on six massive stone piers 125 feet apart, four rising from the bed of the river, and one at each side. It is in reality a double bridge, consisting of two roadways, one 25 feet above the other. The lower roadway, which is 86 feet above high water, is for foot-passengers and carriages; and the upper bridge, which is 112 feet above the river, is a railway carrying three lines of rails, and supported on a level 4 feet above the crown of the arches by strong hollow pillars of cast-iron, resting on the arched ribs, and continued down to the roadway, which is attached to them, the whole being so bound together by strong malleable tension rods as to form one inflexible mass. The cast and wrought iron employed in the construction of the bridge is said to have weighed above 5,000 tons. Its enormous mass and great height were requisite to span the deep valleys and to carry the roadway at a sufficient elevation above high-water level as not to impede the free navigation of the river. "
"A little lower down the river to the W. is the Tyne Bridge, 300 feet long, sustained by nine arches, and rebuilt in 1781 by Stokoe, at a cost of £30,000, in place of the half wooden one, which was covered with houses, and was swept away by the river in 1771. It is now falling rapidly into decay, and its entire removal would facilitate the navigation of the river and so benefit the commerce of the town, which owes its commercial prosperity chiefly to the almost inexhaustible mines of coal in the surrounding district. The export of this staple commodity commenced so early as the latter part of the 13th century, but received a check from the stringent measures of Edward I., which almost abolished the use of coal fires in London; but in the reign of Charles I. the use of coal was revived, and the coals and culm now exported from this port alone amount to above 3,000,000 tons yearly, valued at a million and a half sterling. The coals are brought down the river in broad vessels called "keels," and are here reshipped for exportation, the Tyne being thus far navigable by seaborne vessels, and under the care of the corporation of Newcastle as conservators. "
"The river side is lined with warehouses, extensive quays, chemical works, potteries, and iron and lead smelting furnaces. The lofty chimneys of these works, varying from 150 to 300 feet high, form a striking feature of the town, and are seen from a great distance. Besides these there are many other branches of manufacture which, though on a less extensive scale, are still largely carried on, as oil mills, hardware and cutlery, coarse and fine earthenware, metallic works of all kinds, painters' colours, white and red lead, mill for grinding flints used in the manufacture of glass, copperas, alkali or soda, tar, lampblack, fire bricks, canvas, cordage, refined salt, harness-making, chemical manures, retorts and crucibles, turpentine, corn and paper mills, malting establishments, hemp and wire rope making, extensive coachbuilding yards, machinery of all kinds, locomotive and marine engines, steam-engines, railway carriages, and agricultural implements of all kinds, besides yards for shipbuilding, both in wood and iron. The imports are chiefly wine, spirituous liquors, tobacco, dried fruits from the S. of Europe, corn, flour, timber, colonial produce, deals, bark, flax, hemp, seeds, tallow and hides from the Baltic. "
"By a singular coincidence the first manufactory of window or crown glass in Great Britain was established at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, within a few miles of the great monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow-on-the-Tyne, where, as we learn from Bede, ordinary window glass was first used in Great Britain for architectural purposes. In the year 1616 Admiral Sir Robert Maunsell erected glass works at the Ouse burn, Newcastle, which were carried on without interruption till nearly the middle of the present century, when they were closed. When the British Association first held their meeting in this city, there were six large crown-glass manufactories in operation on the river Tyne, producing annually upwards of 7,000,000 feet of window glass. These manufactories had all ceased to exist in 1863, owing chiefly to the introduction of sheet-glass into this country, and the comparatively low price at which plate-glass can be now had, so that in the birth-place of the art in England there is now not a foot of crown or sheet window glass manufactured. But a transfer rather than an extinction of the trade has taken place, for the manufacture of sheet-glass has of late years been largely increased, and is carried on to a great extent, in the adjoining district of the river Wear, where the quantity produced by Messrs. James Hartley & Co. alone is very nearly equal to the entire produce of the six extinct crown-glass manufactories on the river Tyne. "
"Newcastle gives name to a deanery in the archdeaconry of Northumberland and diocese of Durham, and contains nine churches, besides numerous chapels. The livings are, St. Nicholas, a vicarage,* value £474, in the diocese of Durham, and gift of the bishop; St. Andrew's, St. John the Baptist's, All Saints', St. Peter's, St. Ann's, all perpetual curacies in the diocese of Durham, varying in value from £300 to £150, in the presentation of the Vicar of Newcastle; also St. Paul's and the new church at Byker, in the patronage of the crown and bishop alternately; St. Thomas's, and St. Mary the Virgin's, in the corporation of Newcastle. "
"St. Nicholas's church stands on an eminence facing the approach to the high-level bridge, and near where the Roman wall passed. The original structure was built in 1091 by Bishop Osmund, and given to Carlisle Priory, but was burnt in 1216. The present one is a cruciform structure, rebuilt in 1359. It is 245 feet long by 73 feet wide, with a pinnacled tower surmounted by a spired lantern on springers of the time of Henry VI., 194 feet high from the base of the tower, which contains an illuminated clock and a peal of eight bells. Attached to the church were formerly ten oratories, and it still contains a carved choir and stalls, an antique font, a canopied brass of R. Thornton, bearing date 1429, also a monument to Moises by Flaxman, with an epitaph by Lord Stowell, and several interesting old tombs of the Percys. The E. window represents Christ bearing the Cross, and the altar-piece is by Tintoretto; here also is an illuminated Bible more than 600 years old. On the S. side of, and adjoining the church of St. Nicholas, is the building presented to the parish by Sir Walter Blackett in 1736, containing the libraries of Cousins and Tomlinson, comprising many curious and valuable theological works. "
"St. Andrew's church stands on the W. side of Newgate-street, in the north-western quarter of the town, and is said to be the oldest in Newcastle, having been built before 1219, but it has undergone repeated alterations and repairs. It has a large low square tower, and contains the tomb of Sir A. Athol, bearing date 1383, and several other old monuments, and an altar-piece by Giordiani. "
"St. John the Baptist's church is a spacious cruciform structure of stone, standing on the N. side of Westgate-street. It is believed to have been built about 1287, and has an embattled tower crowned with four ornamented pinnacles, and containing a clock and six bells. The church, which had formerly three chantries attached, contains a stained-glass window, an ancient font, and many old monuments, also the tomb of John Cunningham, the poet, who lies buried in the churchyard. "
"All Saints' church, at the bottom of Pilgrim-street, near the centre of the town, is a Grecian structure, rebuilt by Stephenson in 1789 at a cost of £27,000. It has a lofty tower surmounted by a steeple 202 feet high from the base of the tower, and is entered under a portico, supported by five columns of the Doric order. The interior is in form of an ellipse 86 by 72 feet, and the crypt is part of the old church built in 1286. The register commences in 1600, and contains the names of William Lord Stowell and the Lord Chancellor Eldon. "
"St. Peter's church, in Oxford-street, is a Gothic edifice with a tower, erected in 1843 as a chapel-of-ease to St. Andrew's. St. Ann's church stands on the N. side of the New-road, near the Ouse burn, and is a stone structure, rebuilt in 1768 on the site of an ancient chapel of the same name. It has a square embattled tower surmounted by a light steeple. St. Paul's church, situated in High Elswick, and the new church at Byke, are stone edifices of recent erection. The church of St. Thomas-a-Becket is a stone edifice, erected in 1830. It stands in the Magdalene Meadows, near Barras Bridge, and has a lofty tower. The church of St. Mary the Virgin, erected in 1858, is a stone structure, with a tower surmounted by a steeple, and situated in the Elswick-villa road. "
"The Roman Catholics have a church dedicated to St. Mary, which was erected in 1843. There are besides about 30 places of worship belonging to Dissenting congregations, including Wesleyan, Association, Primitive and New Connexion Methodists, Independents, Baptists, English, Scotch, United and Reformed Presbyterians, Scotch Kirk, Free Church, Unitarians, Glassites, Society of Friends, Swedenborgians, and Jews, providing accommodation for about 16,000 persons. "
"There are many public schools, the principal one being the Royal Free Grammar school founded in 1525 by Thomas Horsley, Mayor of Newcastle, and made a royal foundation by Queen Elizabeth. It is held in the old hall of St. Mary's Hospital, built in the reign of James I., and has an income from endowment of about £500, besides a share in Bishop Crew's 12 exhibitions at Lincoln College, Oxford, lately abolished, and several exhibitions to Cambridge. The number of scholars is about 140. Hugh Moises, and Dawes, author of "Miscellanea Critica," were once head-masters, and many celebrated men have ranked among its pupils, including W. Elstob, Bishop Ridley, Mark Akenside, the poet, Chief Justice Chambers, Brand, the antiquary and town historian, Horsley, the antiquary, and Lords Eldon, Stowell, and Collingwood. "
"There are also several other foundation schools, as the Trinity House school, founded in 1712, where mathematics and navigation are taught; the Royal Jubilee school, established in 1810; besides numerous National, British, infant, Roman Catholic, Denominational, ragged, and Sunday schools, situated in different parts of the borough, and partially endowed. "
"The charitable foundations are numerous, including the hospital for the cure of contagious fever; the Infirmary, situated in Westgate; two dispensaries, one in Nelson-street, the other in the New-road; a lying-in-hospital in New Bridge-street; the Penitentiary in Diana-street; a deaf and dumb asylum, situated in Charlotte-square; the Victoria Asylum for the blind; the eye infirmary in Saville-row; the Westgate hospital, founded in 1815 to commemorate the Peace; the Trinity House, originally founded at the close of the 15th century, for regulating pilotage, lighthouse dues, &c., and chartered by Henry VIII. for 26 brethren and sisters, with a chapel, offices, and school attached; the keelmen's hospital, or benefit society, founded in 1701 by the bargemen who carry the coal down the Tyne in "keels," or lighters, to be shipped; St. Mary Magdalene's Hospital, with an income from endowment of £1,200, but there is not now any residence for the brethren; the Holy Jesus, or Freemen's Hospital, founded in 1683, with an income of £600, for the reception of 13 poor men and 37 women, who receive £1 per month besides coals and clothing; the Hospital of St. Mary the Virgin, in connection with which new almshouses have recently been erected in the Elswick-villa road, besides numerous other benevolent and provident establishments. The annual produce of the local charities amounts to near £3,000. "
"There are several extramural cemeteries, as Jesmond Cemetery, which encloses 11 acres; Westgate Cemetery contains about 3 acres, and Ballast Green about the same. Six weekly and two daily newspapers are published in the town, viz: the Newcastle Courant and Chronicle on Friday, the Guardian, Newcastle Journal, Northern Weekly Standard, and North of England -Advertiser on Saturday, the Northern Daily Express and the Daily Chronicle. "
"There are in the town several learned societies, as the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries, the Surtees Society for publishing old MSS., a fine arts institution established in 1822, literary and law societies, also benefit societies, subscription and circulating libraries, and news-rooms supplied with all the London journals and papers. There are also a botanic and horticultural society, a farmers' club, and a natural history society, which last has a well-selected museum. Many distinguished and eminent men have been born at Newcastle; amongst the number may be mentioned Duns Scotus, who was educated at the convent of Grey Friars in this city, where also Hugh of Newcastle and Friar Martin were monks; Nicholas of Durham, the opponent of John Wycliffe; William Elstob, the divine and antiquary, and his sister, Mrs. Elstob, the Saxon scholar; Akenside, the poet; Rev. H. Bourne, the local historian; Hutton, the mathematician; Sir Robert Chambers, chief justice in India; Admiral Lord Collingwood; the late Lord Chancellor Eldon; Thomas Bewick, the famous wood engraver; Bulmer, the printer; Scott, the engraver; Dean Holdsworth; G. Walker; and Grey, author of Memoria Technica. "
"The principal antiquities include the old castle and town walls described above, the remains of the Emperor Hadrian's wall, the foundations of Roman buildings connected with the station Pons Ælii, a Roman well, &c.; the inn called the "Scotch Arms," in New Nungate, where the Scottish kings lodged; Anderson's house, built on the site of the Franciscan priory founded by Henry III., and in which Charles I. was detained prisoner; the monastery of the grey friars founded in the 13th century, where Duns Scotus was educated, and given by Henry VIII. to the Earl of Essex, but of this no traces now remain; also a Benedictine nunnery founded shortly after the Norman conquest; a Premonstratensian friary; the chapel of St. Lawrence, presented to the corporation by the Percys in 1549, besides other religious houses, all traces of which are now fast disappearing by reason of the improvements recently undertaken in the old town. "
"Newcastle is the seat of a Poor-law Union co-extensive with the borough, of a superintendent registry, and of new County Court and excise districts. Races take place annually in June on a course of 3,162 yards, called the Hotspur Round, situated on the Moor. Market days are Tuesday and Saturday for corn, but the cattle and hay markets only on Tuesday. The provision market in Grainger-street is open daily, as is also the fish market on the Sandhill. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday in each month for the sale of lean stock, on the 12th and nine following days of August, and on the 29th and nine following days of October for horses, cattle, and sheep, and on the 22nd November for pleasure; also statute fairs for hiring farm servants on the first Tuesday in May and November."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson (c)2003]

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