Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.
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THE EASTERN SUBURBS.
Sandgate has evidently had its name from its situation on the sand by the river's side. In Speed's Plan of Newcastle, dated 1610, no buildings occur on the scite of this street; yet there are deeds of property in Sandgate as early as the years 1485 and 1487. Grey says that the suburbs of Sandgate escaped the fury of the civil wars, except some houses near the walls of the town. However, we find in Rushworth, that in January, 1644, the Marquis of Newcastle, "for the better guard of the town" against the Scots, "set the Sandgate, a street without the walls, on fire, which continued burning all Sunday and Monday."
Sandgate is a very narrow and crowded street, though recently much improved by new erections, and the opening of numerous shops for the sale of the most necessary articles of life. It is more crowded with inhabitants than any other part, either within or without the walls of Newcastle, containing many thousand inhabitants. They are mostly those who are employed in the keels or lighters, or in ships engaged in the coal-trade, and are undoubtedly as hardy and laborious a class of men as any in his majesty's dominions. This street has justly been styled the Wapping of Newcastle, which it resembles in the great number of ale-houses, the whim and extravagance of the seamen who visit them, and the volubility of tongue for which the women are distinguished. A number of lanes run from the street on the south down to the river, and on the north, by a very steep ascent, up to Sandgate New-road. (fn. 1) These lanes are in general dark, narrow, ill paved, and noisome; and if the people who inhabit them preserve their health, they owe it more to the strength of their constitution, the nature of their employment, or the regularity of their living, than to the healthiness of their dwellings.
On entering Sandgate from the Quayside, (fn. 2) there is a large area on the left, called the Milk Market, where great quantities of that necessary of life are daily sold. This market is mentioned in the common council books in 1717. On the west side, there are slaughter-houses and beef-shops, for the convenience of the shipping. The townwall adjoining was every Saturday covered with old clothes, shoes, boots, &c. exposed for sale; but this wall, which was very high and strong, is now pulled down, and butchers' shops and warehouses erected where it stood. The road has thus been rendered more commodious, and the whole has an improved appearance. The old clothes market is at present held in the street, where also great numbers of reapers are hired every Sunday during harvest.
Sandgate is divided near the middle by a runner of water, called in former times the Swirle, at present, by corruption, the Squirrel. This was anciently the bounds of Newcastle. The continuation of the street beyond this is called St. Ann's Street, from the neighbouring chapel. Proceeding eastward is a ropery upon a ballast-hill, which is said to have been the first ballast-shore without the town of Newcastle; for which purpose, and that of erecting lime-kilns upon it, it appears to have been purchased by the mayor and burgesses of the lord of the manor of Byker. The ballast was carried on women's heads out of the small vessels that came for coals. On the south side of this hill there is a pleasant walk, from which is a prospect of the river, and of great part of the town and neighbourhood.
In consequence of the rapidly increasing communication between this town and Shields, and the extreme inconvenience and hazard of driving carriages through Sandgate, a new road was, in 1776, made from the north side of the Milk Market, to pass behind the streets of Sandgate and St. Ann's; the commissioners of the turnpike road leading from Newcastle to North Shields having obtained a lease of the ground necessary for that purpose, at the yearly rent of one shilling, from the common council of Newcastle. This branch is called Sandgate New-road.
On ascending the bank, which forms the commencement of this road, there is a wide passage into the Wall Knoll, called Forster's Street. Above this, and parallel to the town-wall, a steep road leads up to Sallyport-gate. On the east side are a few houses, called Vinf's Buildings, behind which is a meeting-house, where a congregation of the Ranter's, or Primitive Methodists, now meet. East from this stands the Keelman's Hospital, a building that reflects the highest honour on that body of men. Adjoining the hospital is a small field, called the Garth-heads, where hundreds of children and youths, from the unwholesome lanes in Sandgate, may be almost constantly seen amusing themselves. It was formerly much more extensive. (fn. 3) On one side of this ground the Royal Jubilee School has been recently erected.
The airy and convenient situation of the New-road has given rise to a row of elegant houses. These buildings, which are mostly inhabited by mercantile people, are situated on a small eminence north of the road; and in front of each house is a little grass or flower plot, which gives them an agreeable appearance. During the seasons of scarcity about the beginning of this century, when such immense quantities of foreign corn were imported, large temporary granaries were erected on both sides of this road. These the people termed Egypt, in allusion to those erected by Joseph in that ancient country, which appellation was confirmed by the proprietors.
The south side of the New-road, from opposite the Keelman's Hospital to the termination of Sandgate, consists of a continued line of convenient, modern-built houses. The west end is adorned by a new Methodist chapel, and the east end by a handsome, regular-built row of houses. The good folks of Sandgate call it "Quality Row;" but it is sometimes named "Keenleyside Row," after the family that possess all the property from Ebenezer Chapel to the Ropery-pant.
At the west end of Sandgate there is a broad passage, communicating with the lane that leads to Sandgate Shore. It was made by Mr. Dykes in 1681, when he erected a water-engine at the Folly, which will be more particularly noticed hereafter. Sandgate Shore, which extends along the water-side, has, in some parts, buildings on both sides, and certainly merits the name of a street. It contains several public houses, warehouses for marine stores, smiths' and chain-makers' shops, the Tyne Brewery, and a convenient ship-building yard.
The continuation of this road to the Glasshouse-bridge is called the North Shore, and contains several dock-yards and rows of dwelling-houses, which, fronting the river, are equally healthy and pleasant. The Glasshouse-bridge, by which the rivulet of Ouseburn is crossed, consists of one arch of stone. Opposite to the east end of the bridge, the buildings of the glass-works commence, and cover a considerable extent of ground. After passing the cluster of buildings called the Middle Glasshouses, we arrive at the grounds of St. Lawrence, where is a pleasant house, fronting the river, occupied by Thomas Smith, Esq. (fn. 3)
After passing the Glasshouse-bridge, a road on the left conducts to the Ballast Hills, one part of which is enclosed, and used as a burying-ground. A regular range of buildings, usually called Quality Row, stretches from the burying-ground to near the Shields turnpike road. The opposite side is occupied by manufactories.
At the east end of St. Ann's chapel there is a pleasant row of buildings, situated on an eminence, called St. Ann's Row. From thence the turnpike road leading to North Shields proceeds down a steep hill, and crosses the Ouseburn by a tolerably wide stone bridge. As the tide flows up this burn, and consequently affords the convenience of water carriage, both its banks are covered with buildings; and a large space of ground, which, some years ago, contained only a few wretched hovels, has been converted into a considerable village. On ascending the hill that leads to Byker toll-bar, each side of which is now nearly covered with buildings, a long and pleasant row of houses stretches out upon the left, called Byker Buildings. Higher up there is another neat row, called Brough Buildings, which were erected in 1790. From below the Ouseburn-bridge up to where the tide flows, each side of the water is covered with extensive and important manufactories, consisting of corn steam-mills, foundries, potteries, a flax-mill, and other works, as will be more particularly noticed in the sequel. Between the burn and the public road, a little above the bridge, there is a lime-kiln, which is not only a great nuisance to the neighbourhood, but also dangerous to passengers riding past. It is to be hoped that the corporation will remove a work so disagreeable and dangerous.