The present state of Newcastle: The eastern suburbs

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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Eneas Mackenzie, 'The present state of Newcastle: The eastern suburbs', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 182-186. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "The present state of Newcastle: The eastern suburbs", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 182-186. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "The present state of Newcastle: The eastern suburbs", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 182-186. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,


This division includes great part of the population of Newcastle, and consists of Sandgate, Sandgate New-road, North Shore, Ballast Hills, Low Glass-houses, Ouseburn, &c.

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.


  • 1. These lanes or openings are very numerous, and their names are frequently changed. There was a "Thorp's Chare," alias "Dent's Chare," in the time of the civil wars. "Errington's, alias Maughan's Chare," occurs in 1666. "Pearson's Chare" is mentioned in the reign of queen Anne; and "Foxton's Chare" occurs in 1720. The following are their number and present names. On the south side of Sandgate, beginning at the west end:—1. The Folly. 2. Folly Lane. 3. Pothouse Entry. 4. Flag Entry. 5. Petrie's Entry. 6. The Joiner's Chare. 7. Mills' Entry. 8. Malcolm's Chare. 9. Golden Anchor Entry. 10. Bell's Entry. 11. Tyne Brewery. 12. The Pinmaker's Entry. 13. Fiddle Lane (Hunter's Lane). 14. The Swirle. 15. Baird's Entry. 16. Nimmo's Entry, so called from Nimmo, an Antiburgher minister, who had property here. 17. Hoggan's Entry. 18. Benson's Entry. 19. Clarke's Entry. 20. Giles' Entry. 21. Common Chare. 22. Bruce's Entry. 23. Wide Open. 24. Ropery Stairs.—On the north side of Sandgate, from the west end:—1. Eddy's Entry. 2. Sellers' Entry (formerly the Meeting Entry). 3. The Mill Entry, so called from a steam flour-mill, which is supplied with water by carts. 4. Stiron's Entry. (Jacob's Well). 5. Cook's Entry. 6. The Sweepers' Entry. 7. Simpson's Entry. 8. Gibson's Entry. 9. Henderson's Entry. 10. Ure's Entry. 11. The Weavers' Entry. 12. Weams' Entry. 13. Cox's Lane. 14. Young's Entry. 15. Somerville's Entry, sometimes called Ebenezer Entry, also the Meeting House Entry. 16. The Wood Entry. 17. The White Bear Entry (no thoroughfare). 18. The Tinman's Entry (no thoroughfare). It would be a great convenience to the public to have the names of the numerous chares and lanes painted on the walls, or direction-boards put up, similar to those on the Quayside.
  • 2. Anciently there was a sloped bank, about 10 yards broad, called the Dog Bank, close to the outside of the wall which led from Sandgate-gate down towards the river, by which horses were brought to their daily waterings, and through which passengers descended, and turned eastward along the shore. Adjoining this passage, Mr. Dixon had (when the Scots approached to besiege the town) a freehold, 20 yards broad, and bounded on the east by the freeholds of Mr. Harrison, Mr. Reed, and Lord Lumley, whose property reached to Thorp's Chare. The Marquis of Newcastle ordered these buildings to be demolished; and Sir Arthur Haselrigg afterwards built a fort upon Dixon's property, to secure the gate and curtain up to the Carpenter's Tower. This fort, after the restoration, fell into decay; and its scite became a waste, which was called Sandgate Midding. There was another, and older, Sandgate Midding, near to where the Keelmen's Hospital stands, to which carts came and went by Pandon and the Conduit Head; for none, at that time, passed by Sandgate or its shore. In 1651, Mr. Dixon petitioned the burgesses for a remuneration for his property that had been destroyed, and was granted a leasehold close by the lime-kilns, but not at all equal in value to his freehold. In 1681, Captain Cuthbert Dykes, hostman, who was both post-master and town's surveyor, undertook to serve the lower parts of the town with water. He purchased, in pursuance of his plan, Reed's and Harrison's wastes, obtained, it is presumed, an assignment of Lord Lumley's, and an express grant from the corporation for other parts. A new and lofty quay was immediately commenced, extending from Thorp's Chare to the townwall: but the husband of Mr. Dixon's relict advanced his claim to two-thirds of the ground granted by the corporation. However, Mr. Dykes, so far from being intimidated, carried on his structure, hence called the Folly, and a law-suit at the same time. The latter, in which he was the defendant, cost him £2000, though the claims of the plaintiff were not established. However, the plaintiff's son, a navy officer, renewed his claims many years afterwards, and, using strong language respecting the magistracy, was fined 20 marks at the assizes in Newcastle. See "The Folly, a Farce," dated April, 1736.
  • 3. The Keelman's Hospital is erected on part of the town's property, called Wall Knoll Close. The remainder is let to Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart. at £2, 3s. 4d. per annum. This gentleman's lease expired in 1810; and, during the last year, 1825, the stewards of the incorporated companies called upon him to produce a copy of his title deeds, as they conceived the extent of the Wall Knoll Close was much greater than what was generally supposed. They alleged that this close, under its ancient and proper name, extended from the Keelman's Hospital up to Wilkinson's Buildings, on the west; from Wilkinson's Buildings, along Stepney Lane, to the Red Barns, on the north; from the Red Barns to Ellick's Loaning, which adjoins Shields road, on the east; and from Ellick's Loaning to the West Walls, near the Keelman's Hospital, on the south. Sir Matthew referred the applicants to his solicitors, who shewed to John Clayton, Esq. the town's clerk, a plan of the Wall Knoll Close, executed about the year 1723. Formerly, there were the remains of a battery on the hill upon which the Keelman's Hospital stands, and which crossed the Shields turnpike road. Being a lounging place on Sundays for the inhabitants of Sandgate, it was called, by that unaffected people, Lousy Hill. Several old inhabitants remember well the old grass-covered ramparts of these works. It deserves remark, that the bounder stones numbered 65 to 69 stand on the south side of Sandgate. The last is at the head of Pothouse Chare, the next at the head of Flag Entry, another at the head of Malcolm's Chare, and one in good preservation at the corner of Bruce's Buildings, head of the Wide Open. Some infer that the space between these stones and the river is in the county of Northumberland; but the fact probably is, that when these bounder stones were first erected, the river flowed up thus far.
  • 4. "The Glass-house-bridge, so called because of the glass-houses which are almost contiguous to it, was originally a wood bridge, as the bridge higher up the Bourn was, 'till within these 6 or 7 years; but in the year 1669, when Ralph Jennison, Esq. was mayor, it was made of stone by Thomas Wrangham, ship-wright, on account of lands which the town let him; The passage however over it was very difficult and uneven 'till the year 1729, when Stephen Coulson, Esq. was mayor, it was made level and commodious both for horse and foot."—Bourne, p. 155.