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MARKET TOWNS OF DURHAM (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Gateshead in 1838

GATESHEAD, an ancient borough and parish in the eastern division of Chester ward, in the county palatine of Durham, 272 miles N. by W. from London, and 13 miles N. by E. from Durham. It is situated on the southern side of the river Tyne, opposite to Newcastle, with which it communicates by a handsome stone bridge.

The parish is about 3 miles in length, its greatest width being somewhat more than two. Gateshead is supposed to have once been a fortified Roman station, which opinion is supported by the antiquities discovered here at various times, including coins of the emperor Hadrian. Prior to 1833 it was merely a borough by prescription, there being no charter extant, though it is believed to have been once incorporated. By the Reform Act it became a parliamentary borough, and now returns one member to parliament. As late as 1681 the town was governed by a bailiff appointed by the bishops of Durham, since which time the government has been vested in two stewards, who possess no municipal authority or jurisdiction, and who are elected annually by the borough-holders and freemen. There are two principal streets ; the one descending towards the bridge is so steep as to be almost impassable for carriages during winter; the other, of recent erection, is of gradual descent.

The church is an ancient and spacious edifice, built in the form of a cross, surmounted by a lofty tower. There are two livings ; the rectory of Gateshead and that of Gateshead-fell. The annual net income of the former, according to the Ecclesiastical-revenue Reports, is £636, and that of the latter £172. They are both in the archdeaconry and diocese of Durham, and in the patronage of the bishop of that see.

There are several charitable institutions, among which is an almshouse for poor women. On the east side of the main street are the ruins of an extensive monastery, founded in 1247 by Bishop Farnham, and dedicated to St. Edmund. The town is said to be thriving and increasing annually in manufacturing and commercial importance. It possesses coal-mines, extensively worked, situated within the borough, and which employ a considerable portion of the population of the town. The chief manufactories are of glass, cast and wrought iron, and whitening ; and at Gateshead-fell there is an extensive quarry for grindstones, which are exported to most parts of the kingdom. The population of Gateshead and Gateshead-fell in 1831 was 15,177.

There are several charity schools, among which is a free grammar-school founded in 1701 by the Rev. Theophilus Pickering, the rector of the parish. Besides Greek and Latin, the children are taught arithmetic and navigation. The revenue of the borough, arising from landed property, is £500, which is incumbered with a mortgage of £1,600. The annual expenditure is about £200. The amount of assessed taxes levied in 1830 was £2,036, and that of the parochial assessments in the following year £4,709.