The present state of Newcastle
The suburbs of Westgate

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Eneas Mackenzie

Year published

1827

Pages

194-196

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'The present state of Newcastle: The suburbs of Westgate', Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Including the Borough of Gateshead (1827), pp. 194-196. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43342 Date accessed: 20 August 2014.


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SUBURBS OF WESTGATE.

The suburbs beyond Westgate are almost entirely without the liberties of the town; for a small runner, which intersects the road to Carlisle a few yards westward of the House-carpenter's Hall, divides the county of Northumberland from the county of Newcastle upon Tyne. A gallows stood formerly on the Northumberland side of this runner; and a temporary one is still occasionally erected on the same scite, for the execution of criminals convicted of murder belonging to that county.

The street which ranges on each side of the Carlisle road, above the scite of the old gate, has lately been much enlarged and improved, by the erection of several very neat and commodious houses. It is called The Westgate, and may now be considered as a continuation of the street below the gate. Each side of the road that ascends to the toll-gate is now almost covered with new buildings. The houses on the north side are pretty uniform, and are ornamented with flower-plots in front, having also gardens and conveniences behind. This long range of buildings is called Cumberland Row. At regular intervals there are passages that lead to buildings be hind. Villa Place consists of a row of very neat and comfortable houses. On the south side of the road were the extensive nurseries of Mr. William Elliott, but which are now partly occupied by genteel dwelling-houses, and partly parcelled out into private gardens. At the bottom of these grounds, a row of new houses, called Summer Hill Terrace, fronts the west. A long range of large, well-built houses, extends from near this place to the summit of the hill. The first division is named Swinbum Place, the next Greenfield Place, and the uppermost High Swinburn Place. Behind part of these buildings are several houses and shops, which face the turnpike road. At the southern extremity of the nursery-ground are a few large, well-built villas, which command a pleasant and extensive prospect towards the west and south, and also a view of the neat gardens which occupy the ground on the east, and the front of the houses at Swinburn and Greenfield Places. Exactly opposite to the toll-house is Summer Hill, upon which the late Hadwin Bragg, Esq. erected a large and commodious house, now occupied by his relict, and which, from its lofty situation, is one of the most healthy and airy residences in the vicinity of the town.

On passing the new hospital, near where the old gate stood, a road branches off to the left, which conducts to the Close by the Forth and Infirmary. From its commencement to the turn leading to the Forth, it is called Thornton Street, in honour of the opulent and beneficent Roger Thornton, who first entered Newcastle by the Westgate. On both sides of this street are many new and convenient dwellinghouses. Turning to the right hand from the Westgate, another road leads to the Town Moor, &c. past the Warden's Close. At a short distance up this road, and near the town-wall, stands the Fever House; and, a little further, the Lunatic Hospital, which has been recently much enlarged and improved. These buildings are erected in a field immediately behind the house of the Black Friars, called the Warden's Close, between which and the monastry there was a direct communication through a postern in the wall. (fn. 1) On the opposite, or left hand side of the road, is the entrance to the Public Baths, near to which there is a considerable extent of ground divided into gardens, partly occupied by private individuals, and partly by Mr. Allen Moat, gardener. A cart-road bounds his garden-wall on the north-west to Westgate toll-bar. (fn. 2)

Footnotes

1 Grey and Bourne think that this field was called the Warden's Close because it belonged to the wardens of the priory of Tynemouth; but Brand imagines it is a corruption of Wardell's Close, the sirname of some former lessee, and, in corroboration of this opinion, quotes from the writings in the town's hutch, "a lease of Wardell's Close, made to Christopher Blunt," in 1565. Grey says that "the warden of Tinmouth had his house, garden, fish-pond, &c. here;" and adds, "there are still the seeming remains of fish-ponds, gardens, &c." In Madox's Formulare Anglicanum, there occurs a record, dated July 13, 1466, which mentions fishponds at that time in this place. It is a lease from John Rokesburgh, prior of the Black Friars in Newcastle, and the brethren thereof, to William Hays, of a certain great close of theirs, built round with a stone wall, for the term of his life, at the yearly rent of 25 shillings; and allowing him to fix a small leaden pipe, of a bore large enough to admit a wheaten straw, to their aqueduct, running in and through that close to their monastry, in order to supply his fish-pond with water, &c. Bourne supposes that the Shoulder of Mutton Close was anciently part of the Warden's Close, and adds, "There is in it a cistern of water, which a friend of his imagined supplied the Black Friars;" and, from information that Brand received, a pipe from this reservoir conducted the water through the town-wall to the Friars. Near the entrance to the Warden's Close are the remains of a small fort and some other inequalities of the ground, supposed to have been formed by throwing up breast-works by the Scots, at the siege of the town in 1644.
2 This road, though a great convenience to many persons, has long been suffered to remain in a most deplorable state. The Westgate township was indicted for not keeping it in repair, but effectually resisted the action, on the ground that it was originally formed for the accommodation of the inhabitants of Elswick township, and had never been repaired by any other township.