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Newcastle 1839

NEWCASTLE, distinguished from other places of the same name as Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is locally in Castle Ward, in the county of Northumberland, of which county it is the assize-town. It is 274 miles from London, by Hatfield, Baldock, Stamford, Newark, Doncaster, Boroughbridge, Darlington, and Durham.

Newcastle appears to have derived its origin from Pons Aelii, the second station from the eastern extremity of the Roman wall. Several Roman remains furnish decisive proofs that it occupies the site of a station. Many coins were found in the piers of the old bridge thrown down by a flood in 1771, and the remains of a Roman well, two alters, fragments of walls, and large quantities of pottery, in digging the foundations of the new county court-house in 1810. Previous to the Conquest the place went by the name of Monkchester, from the number of monastic institutions. The town was also the resort of numerous pilgrims who came to visit the holy well of Jesus’ Mount, now Jesmond, a mile north-east of the town. One of the principal streets in Newcastle is still called Pilgrim Street. There are considerable remains of the Black or Dominican Friary near Low Friar Lane. Another ancient town, called Pampedon, appears to have been included in the limits of the modern Newcastle : this place was in the manor of Byker ; its name is retained, though in a somewhat altered form, in the modern Pandon Hall, Pandon Bank, Pandon Dean, &c. It was from a fortress built by Robert, eldest son of William the Conqueror (A.D. 1079 to 1082), on his return from an expedition into Scotland, to which, in contrast to some more ancient erection, the name of the New Castle was given, that the town derived its present name. In the rebellion of Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, against William Rufus, this fortress by the king (A.D. 1095). In the reign of Stephen it came into the hands of the Scots, but in the reign of Henry II (A.D. 1174), and John (A.D. 1213), it was repaired and strengthened. In the reign of Edward I, John Baliol did homage at Newcastle for his crown of Scotland. The town had been early incorporated, probably by William Rufus, but the first mayor was appointed in the reign of Henry III (A.D. 1251). Edward I gave the lands and tenements of Pampeden to the burgesses (A.D. 1299). The walls of the town, which had been erected perhaps in Rufus’ time, were rebuilt on the eastern side, and it is likely that a portion of the old Roman wall of the station Pons Aelii was incorporated with them. Several of the early Anglo-Norman kings coined money at Newcastle.

In the reign of Edward III the town was attacked, but without success, by David Bruce (A.D. 1342), in his invasion of England. At the siege of Calais (A.D. 1346) Newcastle furnished 17 ships and 314 mariners, a greater force than any other northern port except Yarmouth. In the wars with Scotland, Newcastle was a frequent place of rendezvous to the English forces, and it was the scene of several diplomatic meetings. In 1636 above 5,000 persons died of the plague at Newcastle, an indication of the extent and population of the town. In 1640 it was deserted by the king’s forces and occupied by the Scots, who had invaded England. In 1641 the Scots quitted the town, which in the ensuing civil war supported the king with great zeal. In 1644 it was besieged by the Scots, who had come to the support of the Parliamentarians, and taken by storm. In 1646 King Charles was brought hither from Newark by the Scots, to whom he had surrendered himself. In the Rebellion of 1715 the townsmen armed for the support of the government, and the place was occupied by a body of troops under General Carpenter. In 1740 a serious riot took place on account of the dearness of provisions. In the Rebellion of 1745-6 the town was occupied by the militia of the county, and by a regular military force under Marshall Wade.

The town has been more than doubled in size, and nearly so in population, during the present century. It is situated on the summit and declivities of three lofty eminences rising from the north bank of the Tyne, and ten miles from its mouth. It extends about two miles along the bank. The town of Gateshead, in the county of Durham, occupies the opposite bank, and may be regarded as a sort of suburb of Newcastle. The limits of the municipal borough formerly included the town and county of the town of Newcastle, having an area of 2,000 acres. The Boundary Act added to this, for parliamentary purposes, the townships of Elswick, Westgate, Jesmond, Heaton, and Byker ; and these townships have been since added to the municipal borough, making the total area 4,936 acres. The population, in 1831, was as follows :-

County of the town of Newcastle, 42,760 ; townships of Elswick, 787 ; Westgate, 2,996 ; Byker, 5,176 ; Heaton, 501 ; Jesmond, 1,393: total, 53,613. The population of Gateshead at the same time was 15,177 : making a total of 68,790. At present, taking into account the rapid increase of buildings the population of Newcastle and Gateshead, with the adjacent villages, comprising a dense population, chiefly of colliers, may be estimated at 100,000.

In the central part of the town, which is the oldest, the streets are inconveniently narrow, and lined with old houses. Considerable improvements have however been made, and new streets have been opened in this part. In the upper and more modern parts of the town are spacious streets and squares, with regular ranges of elegant buildings. The most splendid of these streets, superior indeed to most streets in other provincial towns, is Grey Street, so named in honour of Earl Grey. The whole is well paved, and lighted with gas ; the paving and lighting, which are described in the Municipal Commissioners Reports as indifferent, in many parts have been much improved since their visit. The principal improvements have been on the northern side of the town, where the corporation have erected a new market-house, and entire streets have been built of shops and houses of a superior description. A group of entirely new and uniform buildings, called Brandling Place or Village, has been erected in Jesmond township, north of Newcastle ; and there is another assemblage of new and respectable houses on Rye Hill, in Westgate and Elswick townships, west of the town. The additions to the town eastward, along the bank of the river, are chiefly for commercial or manufacturing purposes. The improvements effected within the last five years have been very great, and many of them, as well as of preceding improvements, owe their origin to the skill and enterprise of a single individual, Mr. Grainger, a builder of Newcastle. The town is connected with Gateshead by an elegant stone bridge of nine elliptic arches, erected (1776-1781) in place of a former bridge destroyed in 1771 by a great land-flood. It was widened in 1801. There are two streams running into the Tyne, one of which, the Pandon Burn, flows on the north side of the town, and is crossed by the high north road at Barras Bridge, and then, turning south, runs through or rather under one part of the town (for it is arched over) into the Tyne, about a quarter of a mile below the Tyne bridge ; the other, the Ouse Burn, runs on the east side of the town, dividing the township of Jesmond from those of Heaton and Byker, and is crossed in several places by bridges over which roads lead from Newcastle to the places adjacent. It joins the Tyne half a mile below the Pandon Burn. A handsome bridge of three arches, built in 1812, spans the deep and narrow valley of Pandon Dean. Newcastle is adorned by a variety of public buildings. The church of St. Nicholas, in the centre of the town, is a large and handsome cross-church, 245 feet in length : it is chiefly of decorated English character. The steeple, which is at the west end, 201 feet high, is the most beautiful feature in the building, and is of late perpendicular. At the corners of the tower are bold buttresses, crowned by octagonal turrets with crocketted pinnacles : from the base of these turrets spring four flying buttresses, crocketted and peculiarly graceful in their forms ; and on the intersection of these is placed a lantern crowned with a crocketted spire, and four crocketted pinnacles at the corners. This steeple has been imitated in those of St. Giles at Edinburgh, and St. Dunstan’s in the East in London, and in other places ; but the imitations fall far short of the original. The choir of the church, 110 feet long and 64 feet wide, is enclosed for service; the nave, 110 feet long and 74 feet wide, is without seats ; the interior is adorned by a painted east window representing Christ bearing the cross, an altar-piece of the Last Supper, and several monuments. St. Andrew’s church, on the north-west side of the town, is a very ancient structure, part of it being of Norman architecture, but it has undergone repeated alterations and repairs. St. John’s, near the west gate, is a large cross-church, chiefly of early English character, with a square embattled tower. It contains an ancient font and several ancient monuments. All Saints church, near the centre of the town, is a modern edifice of Grecian architecture, with a steeple 202 feet high. The interior is an ellipse 80 feet by 60. St. Ann’s chapel is a plain building with a light steeple, on the east side of the town, near the Ouse Burn. St. Thomas’s chapel, lately erected in the Magdalene Meadows, near Barras Bridge, on the north road, in place of a chapel near the Tyne Bridge, now pulled down, is a beautiful building in the early English style with a lofty tower. There are a number of dissenting places of worship, but none of them have any architectural claims to notice. The Guildhall, Exchange, and Merchants’ Court, or hall of the incorporated company of hoastmen, form an extensive range of buildings, erected, altered, and enlarged at various periods : they contain several portraits of historical interest. The Mansion-house, a commodious brick building, near the river Tyne, is now disused as the residence of the mayor, and let for a warehouse. The town and county gaol is a massive stone building of modern erection, large and commodious, and admitting the requisite classification. The moot-hall, or County Court-house, erected in part of the precincts of the ancient castle, is a building of elegant proportions, adorned with a fine portico of six Doric columns on the south front, and a similar portico of four columns on the north front. The architectural details are from the temple of Theseus at Athens. Much of the old castle, which was formerly used as a county prison and for holding the assizes, is yet standing; many alterations have been made in it within the last twenty or thirty years, but by no means in harmony with the original architecture of the building, which is Norman. The walls have a thickness varying from 14 to 17 feet.

The Infirmary is a commodious and handsome building in the Westgate township : the institution is well managed, and all requisite accommodations for the patients are provided. The in-door patients average about 800 ; the out-patients about 700. There are a dispensary, a small lying-in hospital, a lunatic asylum under good management and well provided with accommodations, several ranges of almshouses, and other charitable institutions : the keelmen’s hospital, for poor keelmen ; Jesus’ hospital, for decayed freemen, their widows and children ; the Trinity almshouses ; and the Westgate hospital (the last founded in commemoration of the peace of 1814), are the principal of these. The Literary and Philosophical Society, instituted A.D. 1793, occupies a handsome building of Doric architecture, comprehending a museum, a library, and other apartments. This society owes its origin chiefly to the Rev. William Turner, a dissenting minister in the town. It was established in 1793 ; and the present building was erected 1822-25. Adjoining the library of the Literary and Philosophical Society are the rooms and museums of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle, and of the Antiquarian Society of Newcastle. There are a handsome theatre, assembly-rooms, and a riding-school, formerly a circus ; public baths near the head of Northumberland Street, and a stand upon the race-course north of the town. There are extensive barracks, enclosed within a stone wall, north-west of the town. The royal arcade, an extensive pile of building, lately erected, is occupied by shops and offices. Two public cemeteries have been formed of late years near the suburbs of the town.

The commercial importance of Newcastle arises from its situation on a river navigable thus far by sea-borne vessels of 400 tons. The Tyne forms the haven, and is under the care of the corporation. The river side is lined with warehouses and extensive quays. The chief business is in the shipment of coals, the produce of the surrounding coal-pits. The coals are brought down the river in broad vessels called keels. The boatmen are called keelmen. The yearly export of coal in the ten years ending with 1832 averaged above 700,000 chaldrons sent coastwise, about half to London ; the export over sea to the different countries on the Continent rose from about 45,000 to above 70,000 chaldrons in the same period. In 1833 the quantity sent coastwise was 1,921,848 tons ; in 1834, 2,017,462 tons ; in 1835, 2,261,401 tons ; in 1836, 2,280,713 tons ; in 1837, 2,392,494 tons ; and in 1838, 2,450,778 tons ; the exports to foreign parts in the same years were 230,434, 227,444, 309,536, 415,849, 476,157, and 554,175 tons respectively. The other chief articles of export are lead, the trade in which has much increased ; cast and wrought iron ; glass and pottery ; copperas and other chemical productions ; soap, colours, grindstones, salt, and pickled salmon. The imports are wine, spirituous liquors, and fruit from the south of Europe; corn, timber, flax, tallow, and hides from the Baltic ; and tobacco and various other articles from North America. The gross receipts at the custom-house for the years ending 5th January, 1836 to 1838, were £307,274, 19 shillings and 3 pence, £413,796, 17 shillings and 6 pence, and £379,360, 19 shillings and 8 pence respectively ; the net receipts of the same years were £293,087, 7 shillings and 7 pence, £396,533, 2 shillings and 6 pence, and £361,311, 8 shillings and 8 pence. These receipts were not exceeded by those of any other ports in Great Britain, except London, Liverpool, Bristol, and Hull, in England ; and by Greenock, Leith, and Glasgow, in Scotland. The number of ships which entered the port in the years 1832-8 was as follows :-




























































Three or four vessels are sent every year to engage in the Davis’s Straits whale-fishery. The salmon-fishery on the river has much declined. A number of steam-boats ply between Newcastle and Shields.

The chief manufactures are of glass-bottles and plate and crown glass, chiefly carried on in the township of Byker ; this manufacture employed, in 1831, 350 men. The manufacture of steam-engines, mill-work, and other machinery employed from 130 to 140 men in 1831 ; and the different branches of the manufacture of leather, about 200 men. A number of persons were engaged in ship and boat building, block, mast, and sail making, flax-dressing, rope-making, coach-building, &c. There are several malt-houses, breweries, flour-mills, cooperages, printing-offices, and iron and lead-works, and chemical works. The lofty chimneys of these last, rising from 150 to 300 feet, form a striking feature of the town, and from the flatness of the surrounding country are seen at a great distance. Fire-bricks, coal-tar, and brown paper are made. Thirty years ago, the bricklayers’ and slaters’ labourers were chiefly females.

The inland trade of the town is considerable : there are two weekly markets, Tuesday and Saturday: the corn-market is a very important one; the market for wheat and rye, and that for oats, are held in different places ; there is a handsome and commodious fish-market under the merchants’ court, and large and commodious markets for butcher’s meat and vegetables have been lately erected. There are several yearly fairs for woollen cloth, hardwares, leather, horses, and cattle. There are rail-roads from Newcastle to Carlisle, to North Shields, and to South Shields and Sunderland. Parliamentary sanction has been obtained for a railway from Newcastle to York. A Chamber of Commerce has been established for many years.

By the Municipal Reform Act, the borough was directed to be divided into seven wards ; the corporation to consist of fourteen aldermen and forty-two councillors ; by the revising barristers, agreeably to the permission given in the act, the number of wards was fixed at eight, but the alteration was not approved by the king in council. The revenue of the corporation averages from £30,000 to £35,000 per annum : the principal sources are rents (about £9,000), a duty on coals and other goods exported (about £11,000 of which £7,000 is coal duty), payments for liberty to deposit ballast (£8,000), tolls (nearly £2,000), &c. The chief expenditure is for port and harbour charges (£8,000 to £9,000), repairing and cleansing the streets (£4,500 to £5,000), annuities and interest (about £8,000), and charges on hospitals, schools, clergy, &c. (about £2,500), the mayor’s salary and expenses (above £3,000), other salaries (about £3,500), general repairs and improvements (above £2,500), &c.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a town and county ; the assizes and the Epiphany quarter-sessions for the county of Northumberland are held in the Moothall, which is built on a piece of ground in the jurisdiction of Northumberland, though surrounded by the buildings of Newcastle. Assizes and quarter-sessions for the borough are held in the Guild-hall at the usual periods : the recorder presides. There are a mayor’s court and a sheriff’s court, which have jurisdiction in suits of unlimited amount : a court of conscience for small debts under 40 shillings ; and a court of conservancy for the river. There is a police force of 7 serjeants-at-mace and 80 constables, and a night-watch.

St. Nicholas is the mother-church of Newcastle : the benefice is a vicarage (united with the curacy of Gosforth) of the clear yearly value of £753 with a glebe-house ; and the vicar has the right of presentation to the perpetual curacies of All Saints (clear yearly value £330), St. Andrew (£227), St. Ann (£110), St. John, and St. James (£244).

Besides the Philosophical Society and Antiquarian Society, there are a literary, scientific, and mechanical institution, an institution for the promotion of the fine arts, a Botanic and Horticultural Society, a Law Society, a Natural History Society, and a Philharmonic and Choral Society. There are several libraries connected with various public bodies, beside subscription news-rooms.

The total number of the day-schools of all classes (including boarding-schools) in the town and county of the town, in 1833, was ninety-six ; of Sunday-schools twenty-one ; in the added townships there were twenty-seven day-schools and nine Sunday-schools : making a total of one hundred and twenty-three day-schools and thirty Sunday-schools. The free grammar-school (in which the late lords Eldon, Stowell, and Collingwood, the poet Akenside, and other eminent persons received the earlier part of their education) was founded by Thomas Horsley, who was mayor of Newcastle in 1525. The Jubilee school is a Lancasterian school, established on occasion of the Jubilee, in 1809, and supported by subscription, with a handsome school-house and a good library : the clergy Jubilee school, built to commemorate the fiftieth year of the prelacy of Dr. Shute Barrington, bishop of Durham, is a national school supported by an endowment and by subscription. There are several endowed schools and schools supported by subscription, including three infant-schools. There are a number of other benevolent societies.