Trade and manufactures

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, 'Trade and manufactures', in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) pp. 715-730. British History Online [accessed 23 May 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Trade and manufactures", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 715-730. British History Online, accessed May 23, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Trade and manufactures", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 715-730. British History Online. Web. 23 May 2024,


The port of Newcastle has been the favourite seat of trade and manufactures from the Roman æra in Britain down to the present time. Having, however, treated this subject at large in the History of Northumberland, it may here be sufficient to notice only such articles of produce and manufacture as are remarkable for extent, or are peculiar to the district.

Coal is the principal source of the immense trade and revenue that enriches this district. The coal-trade has been progressively increasing during the last 500 years; and, at present, the capital employed in it is estimated at four millions sterling. In its various branches, about 75,000 persons find employment. Its produce has been calculated at £60,000 per week, and the duty coal yields to government at £600,000 annually. By a printed statement, published this year, there appears to be 862 ships, registered at the Custom-house in Newcastle, which carry 186,500 tons, and are navigated by 8710 seamen. As the whole tonnage of the United Kingdom is stated at 3,119,191, it follows that above one-sixteenth of the whole British shipping belongs to the port of Newcastle.

Exports.—Besides coal, the principal exports are glass of all kinds, silver bullion, pig-lead, red and white lead, lead shot, butter, pickled salmon, bacon, hams, copperas, grindstones, flag-stones, fire-stones, bricks and tiles, cinders and coke, cast and wrought iron and steel, ale, beer, and porter, soap, litharge, earthen ware, flour, painters' colours, Prussian blue, sal-ammoniac, soda, oil of vitriol, paper, watch glasses, leather gloves, lamp-black, whale oil, coal-tar, coal-oil, canvas, &c.

Imports.—The principal articles imported into the Tyne are wine, spirits, fruit, cotton, tobacco, staves, timber, masts, plank, tar, iron, deals, corn, sugar, hemp, flax, smalts, linen yarn, hides, rags, oil, iron-stone, &c.

Lead.—The lead produced by the rich and numerous mines near Alston Moor, in Allendale, and in Weardale, is smelted in pigs, and conveyed in carts to the Tyne at Stella or Swalwell. The average annual produce of the mines is estimated at about 12,000 tons of lead. One Newcastle fother, or 21 cwt. of pig-lead, produces from seven to twelve ounces of silver; though some ore at Alston has yielded 42 ounces per fother! The refineries are principally near the mines; but there are extensive works for this purpose at Blaydon and Bill Quay.

Lead Manufactories.—There is an extensive concern at Low Elswick, belonging to Messrs. Ward, Walker, Parker, and Co. for rolling sheet-lead, and converting piglead into ceruse and minium for pigments; also for casting shot. The other lead manufacturers are, Messrs. Hall and Co. Bill Quay; Messrs. Hind and Co. Ouseburn; and Messrs. Losh, Blackett, and Co. Gallowgate. There are also six large Colour Manufacturers on the banks of the Tyne. At Heworth Shore is a manufactory of prusiate of iron, or Prussian blue.

Iron Manufactures.—There are large smelting works and an iron foundery at Lemington. At New Greenwich and New Deptford is a very extensive foundery, belonging to Messrs. Hawkes. Anchors, chains, and almost every article of naval ironmongery, are manufactured here. The iron and steel works at Swalwell, Winlaton, Stella, and the Team, have long been in operation; and a great variety of articles are manufactured at the iron-works in the Close, Forth Street, the Forth Banks, the Ouseburn, in Gateshead, and at Walker. The latter is conducted on a large scale.

Coke, which has now in many cases become a substitute for charcoal, is prepared in large quantities at Wylam, Derwent Haugh, the South Shore, St. Anthon's, and several other places upon the Tyne.

Glass-works.—Glass-works were established on the Tyne, between Ouseburn and St. Lawrence, about two centuries ago, by Sir Robert Mansel, Knt. Vice-admiral of England. The art was introduced by the refugee families of "Hensey, Teswick, and Tyttore," who fled from Lorraine, and who long kept the arcana of the trade in their possession. The workmen in this district excel the world in the elegance and beauty of their workmanship. There is more glass manufactured on the Tyne than in all the extensive and refined kingdom of France. The quantity annually sold, a few years ago, was estimated to be worth £500,000 sterling, and the duty paid to exceed £180,000. At present, it appears that we possess about two-fifths of the whole glass manufacture of the kingdom. The cast plate-glass manufactory of Messrs. Isaac Cookson and Co. rivals every similar establishment in Europe, in the size, fineness, and brilliancy of the plates produced.

Potteries.—There are, in this neighbourhood, seven manufactories of earthen ware, wherein many excellent articles are made; besides three or four works for making common black earthen ware. Fire-bricks are extensively made at various places near the river, and large quantities are exported. There are coal-tar works at Bell's Close, Heworth Shore, and Derwent Haugh. Copperas works are numerous, and some of them extensive. Sal-ammoniac is still made here in considerable quantities. Oil of vitriol is manufactured on a large scale at Bill Quay, and also at South Shields and Walker. Aquafortis, or nitrous acid, and spirit of salt, or muriatic acid, are also made at Bill Quay, by Messrs. Doubleday and Easterby, who have a large soapery in the Close. Soap is likewise manufactured at Ouseburn, by Messrs. Clapham and Co. The salt works in this district are at present much declined. Brown paper is made by machines in several mills near Newcastle, some of which are wrought by steam-engines.

There are some extensive tan-yards and skinneries in Newcastle, where leather is manufactured in a very superior manner. The Northumberland Spinning Mill, at the Ouseburn, is an extensive manufactory for spinning linen yarn, which has lately been conducted with great spirit. There are in Newcastle and its vicinity 49 windmills, 12 water-mills, and 18 steam-mills, most of which are used in grinding corn. This is exclusive of 35 steam-engines constantly at work in different manufactories.

A great number of excellent vessels have been built in the dock-yards upon the river Tyne; but ship-building at present is in a languishing state. There are also many extensive roperies, sail-cloth manufactories, block, mast, and pump makers, boat-builders, and other establishments connected with ship-building. The produce of the salmon fisheries on the Tyne fluctuates greatly, but is now much less productive than formerly. In 1755, salmon sold in Newcastle at 1d. a pound.

Newcastle has always been celebrated for the excellence of its beer, which is the favourite beverage of the inhabitants. The breweries of beer, ale, and porter, are both numerous and extensive. In 1824, the victuallers, in consequence of a contemplated alteration in the licensing system, made certain representations to government, which included the following estimate of the

Licensed victuallers 77
Houses under brewers 85
Houses independent of brewers, but not victuallers, including the head inns and retail spirit shops 25

In the period comprised, by the last excise sitting, from 23d February to 5th April, 6 weeks, the victuallers used—

1913 qrs. of malt, which produced 3060 barr. strong, and 1818 barr. small beer.
Sittings 8 8 8
15,304 24,480 14,544
Add 4 weeks (fn. 1) 1,275 2,080 1,279
The year 16,579 26,560 15,823
Duty arising on 16,579 quarters of malt, at 2s. 6d. per bushel £16,579
26,560 barrels of beer, at 10s. per barrel 13,280
15,823 barrels of small beer, at 2s. per barrel 1,582
888 cwt. 18 lb. (6 lb. to 1 qr. malt) hops, at 18s. 8d. per cwt. 829
Total duty within the year 32,270
77 victuallers produce a duty of £32,270
100 brewers' houses and inns, say one-third of the consumption 10,756
Total duty arising from one year's consumption in Newcastle 43,026

In 1790, all old beer was drank, none tapped under 12 months old.

In 1800, it was generally used half old and half mild.

In 1824, now used as one old to three mild, except in the case of the porters carrying corn, &c. upon the Quay, who drink it all old, as they say, to preserve their wind."

The internal trade of Newcastle is very valuable and extensive, owing to the numerous and populous villages in the neighbourhood, which are chiefly supplied from this town. The great number of carts which arrive daily for goods, from the more distant parts of the country, shew the extent and importance of that branch of traffic; and the crowd and bustle which are exhibited on market-days, in many of the principal streets, often remind strangers of some of the most frequented passages in the city of London.

In 1823, which was the year before the repeal of the act for the inspection of raw hides and skins, the following was the inspector's return for Newcastle for that year: 4989 hides, 3563 calf skins, and 62,292 sheep and lamb skins; which gives for every week's consumption, 96 bullocks, 68½ calves, and about 1198 sheep and lambs. But this forms a very imperfect data for calculating the numbers killed, as a great part of the hides and skins were sent to Morpeth and elsewhere to be inspected. In 1811, it was calculated that, in Newcastle and Gateshead, the average weekly consumption was 300 oxen, &c. and 3000 sheep and lambs. Since that time, the population has increased: but the wages of the people engaged in the coal-works and in keels have been much diminished, while the number of country butchers has been rapidly increasing, so that the sales of butchers in the town cannot now be estimated so high as formerly.

The number of inns and public houses in Newcastle and Gateshead is given in the account of the beer-trade. The principal inns as posting houses are, Mr. Dodsworth's, Queen's Head, Pilgrim Street, a highly respectable establishment; Mr. Fletcher's, Turk's Head, Bigg Market, which is a very commodious, well-conducted house, and has the largest public room in town attached to it. Mr. Park's, Crown and Thistle, Groat Market, is much frequented by commercial gentlemen. Mr. Taylor's, George Inn, Pilgrim Street, is also a traveller's house, and is often used for bankrupt meetings, &c. Mr. Miller's, Half Moon Inn, Bigg Market, affords very good accommodations to travellers, and is likewise the resort of many respectable farmers on market-days. Richardson's, Three Indian Kings, Quayside, is a convenient house for gentlemen concerned with the trade and shipping of the port. Lough's, Turf Hotel, Collingwood Street, is chiefly used for the accommodation of travellers by the numerous coaches that run to and from this house, and is one of the largest and best hotels of the kind in any provincial town of the kingdom. It would be uninteresting to enumerate all the inns in the town: but Dixon's, White Hart, Old Flesh Market; Richardson's, Rose and Crown, Bigg Market; Reed's, the Sun, Nun's-gate; Wallace's, Nag's Head, Butcher Bank; and Lowes', Fox and Lamb, Pilgrim Street, are all respectable, well-frequented inns. There are no coffee-houses in Newcastle, those so called being properly news-rooms, devoted to the use of their respective subscribers, or to such strangers as they introduce. This defect in our public establishments seems almost unaccountable, when we consider the convenience of coffeehouses to the inhabitants of a populous town, and the support they would consequently ensure.

There are, it is estimated, in Newcastle and Gateshead, 100 grocers and tea-dealers, exclusive of dealers in tea, cottons, &c. who employ about 60 men to vend their commodities in the country. Also, 50 flour-dealers, 40 master shoemakers, 32 tailors, and 45 linen, and linen and woollen drapers, with other tradesmen in proportion.

The market for wheat and rye was formerly held in Pilgrim Street, but, in 1812, was removed to St. Nicholas' Square. The market for oats continues to be held in the Bigg Market. All the farmers are obliged to bring their corn in carts for sale, and to expose one sack of each kind as a sample. Delivery and payment immediately follow sale, which is a great convenience to the farmers. Taking three successive numbers of the Newcastle Chronicle for last year, at random, the sales of British corn in the Newcastle market are given thus:—

Qrs. bush. £. s. d.
1826, October 7, Wheat, 1058 4 sold for 3108 18 9
Oats, 183 6 274 19 7
October 14, Wheat, 1037 0 3014 13 9
Oats, 128 6 198 14 8
October 21, Wheat, 825 2 2456 2 9
Barley, 365 0 708 9 0
Oats, 262 0 418 13 4

Thus it appears that the average sale of these three weeks was £3393, 10s. 11d. which is exclusive of the sales of foreign corn, and of flour from Stockton and other ports.

Fairs.—King John granted to this town an annual fair, to be held on the vigil and day of St. Peter ad vincula, at present called the Lammas fair. Edward II. extended its duration from the 1st to the 28th day of August, on provision that such extension was not prejudicial to the neighbouring fairs. St. Luke's fair, October 18, was granted by Henry II. in 1490. "The tolls, booths, stallage, pickage, and courts of pie-powder, to each of these fairs, were reckoned worth, communibus annis, £12 in Oliver's time." Each of these fairs, at present, lasts for nine successive days; except the show of cattle, sheep, and horses, on the Town Moor, which seldom extends beyond the first day of the fair. At these times, there are large exhibitions of Yorkshire woollen cloth, in the Old Flesh Market; and of Staffordshire-ware, toys, and various other goods, on the Sandhill. There is also an annual fair called the Town fair, on November 22, for fat cattle, called here Marts, from the time Martinmas.

Banks.—There are three banking houses, which facilitate the extensive and important trade of this district:—1. The bank of Sir M. W. Ridley, Bigge, Gibson, and Co. east end of Mosley Street; 2. of Messrs. Chapman and Co. St. Nicholas' Square; and, 3. of Messrs. R. J. and W. H. Lambton, Fenwick, Pybus, and Anderson, Dean Street. Messrs. Backhouse and Co. have also a branch bank in Dean Street. In addition to these, arrangements are now making for opening a branch bank from the Bank of England.

Custom-house.—In 1281, the "Cockettum," or Custom-house of Newcastle, charged a duty of 6s. 8d. upon 300 woolled skins, the same sum upon a sack of wool, and 13s. 4d. upon a last of leather. Henry le Escot and Peter Graper were, in 1298, appointed keepers of the king's customs in this town; and, in 1440, Robert Rhodes was made comptrouller of the customs and subsidies of the king in the port of the Tyne. In Queen Elizabeth's reign, "the customer hee had a fee of £16, 13s. 4d. and a reward of £26, 13s. 4d. a year:—the controler; fee £4, reward £10 :—weighters four; reward among them £4." In 1604, mention occurs of a house upon the Sandhill, called the Custom-house. It stood near the east corner of the Sandhill. The present Custom-house was built in 1765. It is held on lease of the Misses Peareth, the term of which is nearly expired. Though it contains a spacious suite of apartments, yet, from the great increase of trade, the accommodations have become quite insufficient. A project is in agitation for erecting a splendid stone building on the Sandhill, near the scite of the old Custom-house, capable of containing the establishments both of the customs and the excise; the expense to be defrayed by the corporation, on condition of being paid interest for the moneys advanced. Another scheme is to extend and improve the present Custom-house, which is warmly supported by persons interested in property upon the Quayside. But the Board of Customs have not yet communicated their opinion on the subject.

In 1816, attempts were made to establish a branch Custom-house at North Shields, which excited considerable interest both at that place and Newcastle. Deputations were sent from both places, for the purpose of conferring with his majesty's ministers on the subject. After much discussion, the Lords of the Treasury finally determined that no branch of the Custom-house should be established at Shields, but that such masters of colliers as wished it would be permitted to sign the coast-bond at Shields, The late Lord Chancellor Eldon, Lord Stowell, and the members of parliament for Newcastle, were unremitted in their exertions to procure such a decision.

The revenue of the Custom-house, including the Duke of Richmond's shilling per chaldron on all coals sent coastways, amounted, in 1772, to about £56,000. But at a public dinner, given on December 1, 1824, to the late Charles Ogle, Esq. on resigning the office of collector of his majesty's customs at this port, which important office he had efficiently discharged for upwards of 34 years, Mr. Edgcome, the, present collector, declared that the merchants of this port contributed to the customs' revenue nearly half a million annually.

Chamber of Commerce.—Several gentlemen, interested in the commerce of Newcastle, met, in 1814, for the purpose of organizing a Chamber of Commerce, for redressing grievances affecting the trade of the port, facilitating measures calculated to promote the interest and prosperity of local commerce, and generally for attaining such objects, connected with commerce, as the exertions of individuals might be less adequate to accomplish. A provisional committee was appointed to draw up rules, which were sanctioned at a meeting of the merchants, manufacturers, and shipowners of the port of Newcastle, held at the Merchants' Court, on January 5, 1815.

The committee, which is elected by ballot annually on the first Thursday in January, meet on the first Thursday of every month. They are vested with the distribution of the funds, and the power to call extraordinary general meetings. Each house or individual, on becoming a member, pays a fee of three guineas, and is subject to an annual subscription of one guinea, which may, however, be commuted at any time by a subscription of ten guineas. A single establishment are entitled to no more than one vote, or to have more than one member in the committee. The officers for 1827 are,—President, Isaac Cookson, Esq. Vice-presidents, Benjamin Sorsbie, A. Easterby, and Thomas Fenwick, Esqrs. Committee, Isaac Cookson, Esq. jun. Matthew Plummer, Joseph Lamb, C. J. Bigge, Thomas Clarke, James Potts, William Armstrong, William Redhead, George Burnett, E. H. Campbell, Robert Marshall, and Thomas Hedley, Treasurer, James Potts, Secretary, Nathaniel John Winch,

Trading Vessels. —There are eighteen packets and other vessels employed in the conveyance of goods and passengers to and from London. They are all excellent vessels, and well manned; and clear from the London wharfs regularly twice a week. There is also a constant intercourse, with a number of trading vessels, to all the principal ports in the kingdom. (fn. 2)

Steam-boats.—Forty-eight steam-boats have been built upon the Tyne, ten of which are engaged at other ports, or laid aside, and the other thirty-eight ply upon the river. They usually start both from Newcastle and Shields every half hour, under the direction of a superintendant or time-keeper. The fare is only 6d. for adults, and 3d. for children. The Tyne steam-packet, which commenced its course May 19, 1814, was the first built upon the river. The largest steam-boats are much employed in towing vessels up and down the river, or to sea, when the winds are contrary. This has become a matter of great importance to those concerned in the shipping of coals and goods in the port, and also to the consumers of coals in London and elsewhere; for large fleets never remain wind-bound in the harbour, when there exists the least chance of making progress at sea. (fn. 3) The engines, which are constructed on Bolton and Watt's principle, average a ten-horse power. The Rapid, one of the largest packets, conveys passengers to and from Leith once a week; and others, during the summer months, carry parties of pleasure to various places on the adjoining coast. The Steam Navigation Company have lately directed one of their most commodious packets, the Hylton Jolliffe, to sail every Saturday from Newcastle to London with passengers and light goods, and to leave London on the Wednesday following. This speculation is said to have proved very successful.

Passage-boats.—Before steam-boats became so numerous upon the Tyne, there were several covered passage-boats, called Comfortables, which went every tide to and from South and North Shields. Some of these sailing boats still remain. There are also large, strong, open boats, called wherries, daily passing through all the navigable parts of the river, for the purpose of conveying goods and passengers. (fn. 4)

Coaches.—The Royal Mail Coach commenced running to London and Edinburgh from Newcastle in November, 1786. At present, two mail coaches run daily to the south, and one to Carlisle. There are also coaches which set out daily to London, York, Leeds, Lancaster, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Berwick, Alnwick, Morpeth, Hexham, Durham, and Sunderland, and a gig thrice a week to Blyth. Ten coaches and twenty-eight gigs are constantly employed in conveying passengers to and from Tynemouth and North Shields. The gigs run once, twice, and sometimes thrice every day. About 40 years ago, only one old crazy gig was employed upon this road. Hackney-coaches were established in Newcastle on January 23, 1824; and the stand was appointed to be in the square in front of St. Nicholas' church. The rate of fares were settled by the magistrates at the following Easter quarter-sessions, in pursuance of the local act of parliament for that purpose. The fares were again set down and ascertained at an adjourned Easter quarter-sessions held May 8, 1826. At present, eight hackney-coaches find good encouragement. Sedan-chairs have long been the favourite vehicles of conveyance for the ladies of Newcastle.

Carriers.—A waggon sets out for London from the general waggon-yard, in the Manor Chare, every day, Sunday excepted, and conveys goods to all the intermediate places on the north London road. The Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Leeds waggon, also sets out regularly every day. There are likewise carriers to Carlisle, and to all the principal towns in the neighbouring counties; and also to the larger villages in Northumberland.

Insurance.—The Newcastle Fire Office, for the assurance of houses, buildings, goods, wares, and merchandizes, from loss or damage by fire, was first opened in apartments at the Head of the Side, on February 1, 1783. (fn. 5) The business of this company has increased progressively, both as insurers from fire and as life annuitants. Last year, they paid £4700 duty to government; and a share of £100 has recently been sold for £3200. The following is a list of the proprietors:—Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bart. M. P. Blagdon; Sir Thomas John Clavering, Bart. Axwell Park; Cuthbert Ellison, Esq. M. P. Hebburn Hall; William Ord, Esq. M. P. Whitfield Hall; Miss Simpson's representatives, Bradley Hall; Nathaniel Clayton, Esq. Newcastle; William Burdon, Esq.'s representatives, Hartford; Thomas Gibson, Esq. Newcastle; the representatives of T. H. Bigge, Esq. Benton; Martin Morrison, Esq. Newcastle; Dixon Dixon, Esq. ditto; John Anderson, Esq. Jesmond House; Thomas Fenwick, Esq. Newcastle; Robert Walters, Esq. ditto; Henry Hewitson, Esq. Seaton Burn; Isaac Cookson, jun. Esq. Park House; Thomas Cookson, Esq. Newcastle; William Cuthbert, Esq. Benwell; William Clark, Esq. Benton House; George Dunn, Esq. Newcastle; Matthew Harrison, Esq. ditto; and William Woods, Esq. ditto. There is a capital invested amply sufficient to answer every demand upon the office, and the security of the public is further increased by the personal guarantee of the proprietors. The business of this office has always been conducted with a promptness and liberality that have given general satisfaction.

There are fourteen metropolitan and provincial assurance companies who have agents in Newcastle, including the Sun Office, whose agent resides in Gateshead.

A society for the insurance of ships belonging to Newcastle first met October 28, 1778. There are now many associations for this purpose. The Hope, the Liberal, the Tyne, and the General Out-fit for Cargoes and Freight, have each an office and a secretary. The Newcastle Marine Assurance Association was instituted by the grocers of this town, and is limited to the goods-trade between London or Hull and Newcastle. It commenced in February, 1823; and the amount insured and the cost per cent. are as under:—

From February, 1823, to June, 1823, £44,022 £0 3 6
From June, 1823, to June, 1824, 180,507 0 1 7
From June, 1824, to June, 1825, 201,114 0 0 10
From June, 1825, to June, 1826, 258,859 0 3 3
From June, 1826, to June, 1827, 318,644 0 0 6

Water.—The "Conduit-head," at the top of Pandon Bank, was a very ancient reservoir, from which, as Brand supposes, the palace of the Saxon kings and house of Carmelites were supplied with water. By an inquisition taken in 1264, it appears that the Black Friars had, under a royal grant, made an aqueduct from a fountain in the Warden's Close to their monastry, and from thence into the town. This is the first account of an aqueduct bringing water into the town. King Edward III. in 1342, granted to the Grey Friars the sole use of the fountain called Seven-HeadWells. Leland, in speaking of Newcastle, says, "There be three hedds of condutes for fresch water to the town." In 1647, the common council ordered a vein of water to be cut off, it having been found "hurtfull and dangerous to be used for food and dressinge of meate." Two years afterwards, this body made an agreement with Mr. William Gray, for water to be conveyed from his conduit in Pandon Bank to Sandgate. In 1654, they treated concerning some water in Gallowgate. After this, complaints occur against certain coal-owners, for diverting part of the water that supplied the pants. In 1671, the scarcity occasioned an order of common council for stopping all private cocks. Mr. Cuthbert Dikes and others, in 1693, agreed with the corporation to erect a water-engine, for supplying the town with river-water, without Sandgate. This building was afterwards called "the Folly." In 1694, Mr. William Soulsby negociated with the common council for permission to bring water from the Castle Leazes; and in 1697, Mr. William Yarnold obtained a lease from the same body, for erecting cisterns and laying pipes for conveying the "New Water" into the town from the great pond at Carr's Hill. In the 9th and 10th of William III. there was a private act for the better supplying the town with water from three springs on Great Usworth Moor. Water still continuing to be very scarce, the corporation, "on September 19, 1770, ordered a lease, under their common seal, to be granted to Mr. Ralph Lodge, and the other proprietors of the intended Water-works, to supply the town of Newcastle with good water, of a piece of ground at the foot or south end of the Town Moor, with liberty to dig and make a reservoir there, and to erect, set up, and make 100 fire-plugs, or such further number as should be wanted, in convenient and proper parts of the town, within or without the walls, at the direction of the common council, to be used for extinguishing casual fires: as also to make a proper pipe trench, and lay and keep pipes therein, for bringing water from Coxlodge grounds, through the Town Moor to the said reservoir, and from thence into the town, for the term of 227 years, from the 11th day of October following, at the annual rent of 13s. 4d. on condition also, that the mayor and burgesses should pay £50 per annum to the said proprietors for the above 100 fire-plugs, and 10s. a-piece, yearly, for any others that might be wanted." (fn. 6) In 1777, the common council expended £500 in making aqueducts from the Spring Gardens to the town.

The proprietors of the Water-works still obtain a large supply of water from the reservoirs on the Town Moor, from similar depots in the neighbourhood of Gates head, and from the Spring Gardens. They have also a steam-engine for raising water from the Tyne. The water is conveyed through wood, iron, or lead pipes, to the dwellings of the inhabitants in all the principal streets of the town; and there are at present 135 fire-plugs on the various lines of the pipes, from which an abundant supply of water is, in cases of fire, attainable. (fn. 7)

The Lamp and Watch Acts.—An attempt was made by the corporation, in 1717, to obtain a legal power for erecting lamps and regulating the watch; but it was not until the year 1763 that an act of parliament received the royal assent for lighting and watching the town within the walls, and a similar act was obtained in 1812 for that part of the town which is situated without the walls. These acts also invested the commissioners with power to enlarge and cleanse the streets, lanes, and other public places; to open new streets, markets, and passages, and to remove and prevent annoyances therein; and to establish laws for the regulation of the markets, hackneycoaches, chairmen, cartmen, porters, watermen, carriers, &c.

The town within the walls was, in 1811, lighted by about 750 oil-lamps; but on Tuesday evening, January 13, 1818, Mosley Street was lighted with gas; and these brilliant lights were soon extended to the other parts of the town. (fn. 8) At present, there are 269 gas lamps within the walls. The commissioners pay 1s. 6d. per week per lamp for 234, and 2s. per week for 35 lamps, which have taken an extraordinary quantity of pipe. There are 70 of these lamps lighted during the full-moon. The Gas Company having refused to lay down pipes in Carliol Street, Erick Street, and Stowell Street, these places are lighted by 21 oil lamps. In the town without the walls there are 122 gas lamps: 100 are lighted at 1s. 6d. per lamp per week, and 22 at 2s. per week. There are, besides, about 280 oil-lamps in the suburbs, where the season for lighting is but short. (fn. 9)

The night police within the walls consists of 26 watchmen, under the direction of a constable, usually styled "Captain of the Watch," assisted by two night constables who attend by turn, in order to assist the watchmen, and to visit them at their several stands, to observe whether they perform their duty. (fn. 10) They keep watch and ward from 10 o'clock every night until 6 o'clock in the morning, and are enjoined to go their several rounds, and call the time every half hour. Each watchman is provided with a warm watch-coat, a lanthorn, a rattle, and a stick with an iron hook at one end. They are paid half a guinea per week, and one guinea at the end of the season, if they have behaved well. Without the walls there are 30 watchmen employed, including two governors. They are paid the same as the watchmen within the walls. The governors have 15s. per week.

The expense of lighting and watching the town is paid by an assessment of sixpence per pound on the rack rental of the inhabitants, which, for the season 1825–6, produced £1374, 16s. 9d. The actual receipt without the walls, at the same time, was £1021, 8s. 3d. at 9d. per pound. From this it appears that the yearly rental within the walls is £54,993, 10s. and without the walls (exclusive of Westgate) £27,237, 13s. 4d. making a total of £82,231, 3s. 4d.

Newspapers. (fn. 11) —The Newcastle Courant was first published in 1711, by John White, a native of York. (fn. 12) It was published sometimes once and sometimes twice a week, in small quarto, with four or six leaves, and was the first newspaper published north of the Trent. No. 110 appeared on Saturday, July 28, 1722, on a sheet size. On Mr. White's demise, Thomas Saint became by purchase proprietor of this paper, which, at his death in 1788, he bequeathed to his apprentice, Mr. John Hall, who died May 16, 1795; when the business was carried on by the firm of Hall and Elliott: but, shortly after, the paper was purchased of Mr. Hall's executors by Mr. Edward Walker, the present proprietor and publisher. Though this paper was originally a supporter of the revolutionary Whigs, it has long been considered as the organ of the Tories in this district. It is conducted with amazing accuracy and address, and contains a vast mass of matter upon a double demy sheet; a very great change from the time when a small quarto sufficed for the news of the week. The Courant is now beautifully printed with one of Mr. Napier's machines, by which 1000 may easily be printed in an hour.

The Newcastle Chronicle was first published on Saturday the 24th of March, 1764, by Mr. Thomas Slack, printer and bookseller. (fn. 13) From his death on January 14, 1784, until the 21st of February following, it was carried on by his executors: when Mr. Solomon Hodgson became the publisher. Mr. Hodgson (fn. 14) died on April 10, 1800, after which the paper was published by his widow, Sarah Hodgson, until her death, September 10, 1822, since which time it has been carried on by her sons, Messrs. Thomas and James Hodgson. The Newcastle Chronicle is a cool, moderate advocate of the Whig party.

The Tyne Mercury, and Northumberland and Durham Gazette, was first published on Tuesday, June 1, 1802, by Mr. John Mitchell, Dean Street. (fn. 15) It is at present published by his son and successor, Mr. William Andrew Mitchell. This paper is not distinguished by any particular set of principles, but advocates the cause of reform generally, and treats of local abuses, improvements, the fine arts, &c. with spirit and discrimination.

Here it may be proper to observe, that the first book catalogue was published by Joseph Hall, bookseller, on Tyne Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, and was "A Catalogue of excellent Books to be sold on Tyne Bridge, April 4, 1693." (fn. 16) Many spirited and ably conducted Magazines have appeared at different times in Newcastle, (fn. 17) which was also amongst the very first provincial towns in which books were published in periodical numbers; (fn. 18) and perhaps there is no place in England, except the metropo lis, where printing is more accurately and tastefully executed. The various editions of Bewick's works printed here prove the truth of this observation. (fn. 19)


  • 1. The sittings are 6 and 7 weeks alternately: the 8 sittings are 6 weeks ones, consequently these 4 must be added.
  • 2. In the History of Northumberland, the quantity of coals (in Newcastle chaldrons) shipped from the port of Newcastle, is given to 1821. The following is a synopsis of this important trade during the following years;                Newcastle.                          Hartley & Blyth.                Total.                Sunderland.                Grand Total.            Coastwise.      Foreign.      Coastwise.      Foreign.                               Coastwise.      Foreign. 1822      647,393           54,100           50,961           1,356           753,810                393,999           30,642           1,178,451 1823      748,181           45,805           55,641           710              850,337                478,455           29,707           1,358,499 1824      699,598           49,044           53,449           920              803,011                491,187           30,256           1,324,454 1825      691,621           51,444           50,537           758              794,360                521,796           15,539           1,331,695 1826      800,437           62,620           51,533           1,395           915,985                545,656           14,110           1,475,751 The following shews the number of ships (British and foreign) that have been cleared at the Custom-house, in every year, from the 1st of January, 1822, to the 31st of December, 1826:—           Coastwise.     Foreign.     Total. 1822     9,225           1,084         10,309 1823     11,271           931          12,202 1824     10,937           1,218        12,155 1825     11,292           1,348        12,640 1826     11,625           1,299        12,924 It appears, from the evidence recently adduced in the House of Commons, in reference to the Reciprocity Act, which has long been a subject of complaint amongst the ship-owners of this country, that the following are the numbers of British and foreign vessels that have entered in and cleared out of the port of Tyne, to and from foreign countries, from the 5th of January to the 31st of March, 1827:—                     INWARD.                                             OUTWARD. 24 British vessels, equal to     3,314 tons.     156 British vessels, equal to      30,234 tons. 3 foreign vessels, equal to         122 tons.     13 foreign vessels, equal to         1,802 tons. The amount of the customs received at this port, from 1821 to 1826 inclusive, is as follows:—                          £.       s.       d.                                     £.        s.        d. In 1821,     146,575     12     2     In 1824,               165,079     16     10     1822,     139,529     12     6   1825,  355,752   14     9     1823,     146,362     4     2½                     1826,   367,411    16     11 Mr. Nicholas Armstrong, managing deputy to the Bill of Entry Customs, Newcastle, published, on May 21, 1825, a specimen of a weekly "Commercial Intelligencer;" but the scheme, not being sufficiently patronized, was abandoned.
  • 3. This year, the excise duty on spirits, &c. was transferred to the customs.
  • 4. One of the first and most spirited proprietors of steam-vessels was presented with a large silver tankard, on which was the following inscription:—"Presented to Mr. Joseph Price, by the shippers, and manufacturers of lead, and the wharfingers of the goods trade between Newcastle and London, as a mark of their approbation for his zeal and spirited exertions in the towing of vessels upon the river Tyne, 1818."
  • 5. There are many long, slender, light boats upon the river, called gigs, in which the young and hardy seamen and watermen of the port try their skill and prowess in rowing. In 1821, many of these boats were destroyed by an injudicious and ill-natured order emanating from the Custom-house. But rowing is now encouraged by some enlightened patriots, who know that prime seamen are not to be nurtured amidst inactivity and melancholy restraints.
  • 6. The corporation and Trinity-house of Newcastle purchased, in London, two fire-engines, which were first tried on the Sandhill, January 28, 1751. At present, the Newcastle Fire Company keep three powerful fire-engines at the station in the Manors. They are constructed on the improved travelling principle; and there is a travelling tank attached, with buckets, pipes, various implements, and an active body of firemen, who have been well organized by William Woods, Esq. who is secretary for the office. The North British Company keep an engine in Bell's Court; the Royal Exchange one in Prince's Street; and the Sun one in Hillgate. There is also an excellent fire-engine kept at the military depot; one by Messrs. Doubleday and Easterby, at their soapery in the Close; one by Messrs. Cookson and Co. at the Bottle-house; also one by Messrs. Glynn and Co. at their foundry, Ouseburn; one by Messrs. Crowther and Morris, at the same place; and one by Messrs. Hawkes and Co. New Greenwich.
  • 7. The committee that conducted this business very properly began their labours by publishing an advertisement, inviting those skilled in chemical analysis to examine the qualities of the respective waters in the vicinity of Newcastle. This drew forth the talents of Drs. Rotheram, Wilson, Hall, and Mr. Tytler, an eminent chemist in Gateshead, and occasioned rather a warm dispute. But as Dr. Black, professor of chemistry at Edinburgh, and Dr. Saunders, lecturer on chemistry at London, gave the preference to Coxlodge water, their opinion determined the choice of the magistrates.
  • 8. The word pant is supposed to be a corruption of the word "pond or reservoir," and Brand conjectures the etymon of Pandon to be "the hill of the pand or pond." Situation of the Pants.—1, Darn Crook; 2, Black Horse, Newgate; 3, the Bigg Market; 4, Old Flesh Market; 5, Head of the Side; 6, Vicar's Pump, Westgate Street; 7, High Friar Chare; 8, Manor Chare; 9, Opposite All Saints' church; 10, New Green Market; 11, Milk Market; 12, Ropery; 13, Parade Ground Pump; 14, Gallowgate. No. 1 stood formerly near the Gaol, and was, in 1704, supplied from the Castle Leazes. No. 6—in 1706 there stood a pant adjoining the West Gate. No. 7 stood a little above Sir Walter Blackett's gate (now Anderson Place). No. 8 was removed from below the head of the Manor Chare. No. 9 stood at the foot of Pilgrim Street. No. 11 originally stood near the gate at the east end of the Quay, and is mentioned in 1647. No. 12 appears to have been set up about the year 1675. No. 14 was " adorned" by the corporation in 1677. Nos. 4, 10, and 13, are modern erections: the last one, a pump, is of little use. There were formerly two pants in the Close, two upon the Sandhill, one in Cowgate, one near Denton Chare in Westgate Street, one at the Cale Cross, one at the Foot of the Side, and one opposite the Queen's Head, Pilgrim Street. In the books of the Folly Water-works Company, in the possession of Mr. John Bell, land-surveyor, is the following entry:—"Robt. Attkinson cutt himselfe off hauving Sunck a well in his back Side, at Michas. 1717 wch. Supply's hime."
  • 9. The original Coal Gas-works were erected in Forth Street, and the lights were first exhibited on Saturday, Jan. 10, 1818. These works are now abandoned, others having been erected in Manor Place, where are two gasometers, capable of containing 34,000 cubic feet. The consumers are supplied either by a meter, at the rate of 10s. per 1000 cubic feet, or by a scale of charges. Much dissatisfaction exists at the high price charged for gas, the frequent alterations and advances in the charges, and the want of liberality in the dealings of the company. But though Newcastle possesses many valuable local advantages for the production of coal gas, yet these may have been, in a great measure, counterbalanced by the injudicious situations chosen for the works; and the increase of the rates is said to have become necessary from original miscalculations. If, however, the Newcastle Gas Company do not derive a very liberal profit from their sales, then their works must either be miserably mismanaged, or the principal writers on the cost of gas are strangely mistaken. The proprietors of this concern are understood to be the same gentlemen that belong to the Water-works and the Newcastle Assurance firm, and are therefore incapable of taking advantage of a virtual monopoly, or of knowingly harassing the public with vexatious or unreasonable demands.
  • 10. Fourteen gas lamps, lighted in the township of Westgate at 2s. 6d. per lamp per week, are paid for by the voluntary contributions of the inhabitants.
  • 11. The night police is wretchedly conducted, and outrages have been frequently committed that have strongly excited the public indignation. At the assizes held August 2, 1823, Mr. Watson, a clerk, brought an action against Mr. Thomas Carr, "Captain of the Watch," for an assault and false imprisonment. Mr. Justice Bayley, who presided, said, "You have no right to carry a man before a constable; he has no right to hear and determine; he has no right even to hear a case. You may take a man before a magistrate, but this is the first time I ever heard the doctrine that you may take a man before a constable. The defendant says the plaintiff was legally taken before him. I say it was illegally. He further says that the plaintiff was carried before him for an affray. Where was the affray? To constitute an affray, it is not necessary only that there should be a noise in the street for a short time; it should be permanent, and amount to a disturbance of the peace, to warrant such an interference of the watchmen. I doubt very much whether a watchman in such cases could apprehend at all a person who is well known in the town. I think he is not warranted in so doing, for he may go the next day and lodge a complaint before a magistrate. He states that the plaintiff interrupted him in the discharge of his duty, in an office in which I think he had no right to be employed. In my opinion, no one of the justifications in this case has been made out."The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff—damages 40s. with costs. But Carr immediately went into prison as an insolvent debtor, while the commissioners under the Lamp and Watch Act permitted a substitute to act until his liberation; and this "Dogberry of the night," under their sanction, continues, contrary to law, to enter into judicial investigations, and to consign persons to a dungeon who are neither night-walkers, malefactors, nor suspicious individuals. The magistrates have often, but ineffectually, opposed the commissioners; and though the mayor for the time being, Robert Bell, Esq. dismissed Carr from his office as constable for the above offence, yet the commissioners resolutely supported him. But Mr. Carr and the other watchmen, who receive one shilling for every person they lay hold of in the streets, are not so much to blame. It is the system that is bad. The commissioners, when chosen, are compelled to serve for life, if they continue to reside in the parish, and are under no responsibility to their constituents.
  • 12. A newspaper, in pot quarto, was printed by Robert Barker, at Newcastle, in 1639. Barker was the king's printer, and travelled with the chief division of the army. He published several tracts relative to the progress of the army in the north, and afterwards settled in London as government printer. Proposals for printing the Newcastle Mercury were dated July 10, 1722; and the first number appeared on the following Saturday. It was published by Mr. Akenhead, bookseller, on the Bridge, and at the printing-office at the Bird in the Bush, in the Close. The Newcastle Gazetteer was printed in 1751, by William Cuthbert, Cutter's Entry, Close. The Newcastle Journal was begun April 7, 1739, by Messrs. Thompson, Tysack, and Co. A second title of General Advertiser was afterwards added to it. At the death of Isaac Thompson, Esq. it became the property of T. Robson and Co. who printed it from the year 1778 to 1788, when it was published by George Temple and Co. The Newcastle Advertiser was begun on Saturday, October 18, 1788, by Mr. Matthew Brown, and, on September 12, 1803, after his death, was purchased by John Thompson and Charles Hutchinson, and afterwards by John Thompson, a native of the West Indies, and who married Miss Dickenson of Hexham. On his leaving the country, it was sold, on October 3, 1811, to Edward Humble, bookseller, who tried different days of publication, under the new title of the Freeman's Weekly Post, and for some time with a second title of the General Hue and Cry. On June 25,1812, it was altered from Friday evening, the usual time of publication, to Thursday. On the 21st December, 1813, it appeared on Monday evening, and in the following year was published on the Tuesdays. At last this paper dropped, and the Durham County Advertiser begun from it on September 10, 1814, by Francis Humble and Co. It has always been the warm supporter of Ultra-toryism.
  • 13. Mr. White came to Newcastle in 1708. Being a citizen of York, he was elected one of the sheriffs for that city in 1734, and executed the office with as great punctuality as the distance would admit. He died at his house in Pilgrim Street, January 26, 1769, in the 81st year of his age, being then the oldest printer in England.—In 1688, his father printed, at York, the Prince of Orange's manifesto, it having been refused by all the printers in England; and for which he was sent a prisoner to Hull Castle, where he was confined till the place surrendered. He was afterwards rewarded by King William's appointing him his majesty's sole printer for the city of York and the five northern counties. In 1725, Mr. Ged, a man of great ingenuity, honesty, and simplicity, began to invent plate or stereotype printing; but was greatly opposed by a base combination amongst the workmen he employed. After a long series of ill usage, he sent a set of stereotype plates to Newcastle, from which Mr. White printed, "The Life of God in the Soul of Man," on a writing post 18mo. It bears the following imprint:—"Newcastle, printed and sold by John White, from plates made by William Ged, goldsmith in Edinburgh, 1742."
  • 14. Mr. Slack was the author of the British Negociator, Banker's Guide, and other useful books of calculation, published in the name of S. Thomas. His wife, Ann Slack, who died April 25, 1778, was endowed with considerable literary abilities. She wrote Fisher's Grammar and Tutor, the Pleasing Instructor, and other valuable school-books.
  • 15. Mr. Hodgson, who married Miss Slack, was a native of Cumberland. He was distinguished for simplicity of manners and intrepidity of mind. He was extremely generous and charitable; and his social disposition made him fond of conviviality. As editor of the Chronicle, "he uniformly advanced the genuine sentiments of his mind, uninfluenced by party or interest of any kind, and unconnected with any political club or society whatever. Firmly attached to the principles of constitutional liberty, to recal the attention of his readers to those principles was an object to which he devoted his chief exertions. He feelingly lamented the miseries of war; and, so long as he could do it consistently with personal safety, he exercised the privilege of declaring his conscientious sentiments with boldness and freedom, but always without descending to licentiousness or personality." He died in the 40th year of his age (see page 351). His wife, Sarah Hodgson, who died in her 63d year, was eminent for her integrity, benevolence, and intelligence.
  • 16. Mr. Mitchell died on April 24, 1819, aged 47 years. He was a native of the town of Ayr, and a schoolfellow of Dr. M'Whirter of Newcastle. The printer and bookseller to whom he was apprenticed published the first productions of Robert Burns, from which circumstance Mr. Mitchell became intimate with the celebrated bard. He afterwards commenced business in Carlisle, where he married; and shortly after removed to Newcastle. His first printing-office was in Pilgrim Street, where he published the History of Egypt, the Satellite, &c. In establishing the Tyne Mercury, he struggled against opposition and difficulties almost inconceivable; but nothing could shake his resolution, or depress his buoyant spirits. Though endowed with the greatest kind-heartedness, yet the severest expressions dropped from his pen. His remains, agreeably to his own request, were deposited near the foot of his garden at Chimney Mills, on the Leazes; the funeral service being performed by the Rev. W. Turner, of Hanover Square Chapel. "He was fortunate," as is remarked in the Monthly Magazine, "in leaving a son able and willing to tread in his steps; and we trust, therefore, that the Tyne Mercury will for many years continue to be distinguished as one of the most undaunted champions of liberty in the enlightened and populous counties of the north."To this may be added, that it was singularly fortunate that each of the late Mr. Mitchell's three sons should be qualified to assist in conducting the business.
  • 17. William Charnley, bookseller, was much admired for his bibliomaniacal attainments. He knew the intrinsic value and marketable price of a prodigious number of works in every department of literature. He was also highly and justly respected "for his strict integrity and social worth. His view of human nature was enlarged and liberal, and the native dignity of his mind was tempered with the purest urbanity." He served his time with Martin Bryson, bookseller, at the Tyne Bridge-end, and was entered into the Stationers and Tin-plate Workers' Company on January 25, 1749. He died August 9, 1803, aged 76 years.
  • 18. "The Newcastle General Magazine, or Monthly Repository of useful and curious Intelligence," was printed in 4to. in 1747, by John Gooding, at his printing-office in the Side. In 1748, it was published by Isaac Thompson and Co. "The Newcastle Literary Register" was printed in 1773, for the benefit of the subscribers to the Journal. "The Freeman's Magazine," a political publication, appeared in 1774. "The Newcastle Weekly Magazine" was printed in 1776 by T. Robson and Co. and advocated the American cause. "The Newcastle Magazine, or Monthly Journal," was published in 1785 and 1786. "The Œconomist, or Englishman's Magazine," price three-halfpence, was printed by M. Angus in 1798 and 1799. "The Monthly Visitor," published by Hutton Watson in 1817, was followed, in 1818 and 1819, by "The Northumberland and Newcastle Monthly Magazine," printed by Joseph Clark. "The Newcastle Magazine," printed, published, and edited by W. A. Mitchell, commenced in 1820, and continues to be published regularly. "The Northern Reformer's Monthly Magazine" was printed and published in 1823 and 1824 by John Marshall. One number of "The Newcastle Literary Magazine," published by J. Sykes, appeared on January 1, 1824. "The Newcastle Repository," printed by E. Walker, for James Bradley, the editor, was abandoned on the publication of the 2d number. "The Selector," a weekly publication, printed by W. Boag, is now publishing. Other papers, in imitation of the Spectator, &c. have occasionally been published in Newcastle.
  • 19. Ostervald's Bible, in folio, seems to have been one of the first books printed in periodical numbers at Newcastle. On the death of Mr. Lawson, the printer, it was continued by Mr. Dynsdale, who married his widow. After this, Mr. M. Brown carried on the number business with great spirit, in which he was emulated by Mr. Angus, and, during many years, by his widow. Mr. K. Anderson followed in the same line. The printers of this work are, at present, the most extensive publishers in the north of England. The unfounded prejudice that existed against the publishing of books in numbers, or in parts, is now wearing away; and many of the most eminent booksellers in the kingdom are adopting this mode of publication. Expensive works can evidently be got up with less capital and risk when circulated in parts than when sold in complete sets; and useful standard works are now perpetually brought under the notice of the poor, and offered on such terms as are suitable to their circumstances. By these means, much moral good has been effected, and a gradual change is operating in the character of British society. The printing and publishing of books in numbers also claim notice as an important branch of trade, which, by a return made in 1817, in Scotland alone, gave employment to 414 men, and produced annually £44,160. The Scotch publishers had then sold 400,000 folio Family Bibles!
  • 20. Mr. William Bulmer, who has produced typographical workmanship that defies superiority, is a native of Newcastle. He commenced his brilliant career under Alderman Boydell and Mr. Nicol, for whom he undertook to print the imperial 4to. Shakspeare, the first number of which appeared in January, 1791, and conferred a lasting celebrity upon the Shakspeare Press. The works of the immortal Milton followed, in three grand folio tomes, and which equal the most successful efforts of Bodoni, Didot, or any other continental master of the typographical art. Indeed, his late majesty, who was a good judge of the subject, once pronounced a specimen of Bulmer's printing to be the work of the Parma typographer. But the reader must be well acquainted with many of the beautiful and tasteful productions of Mr. Bulmer's press. In September, 1821, Mr. B. made a valuable present of books, printed at his own press, to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle.