THE PRESENT STATE OF THE TOWN AND COUNTY OF NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE.
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE is sometimes emphatically
styled the Metropolis of the North. It is situated on the
north banks of the river Tyne, and is distant 8 miles west
from the sea, 273 miles north-north-west from London, 56
miles east from Carlisle, and 117 miles south-east from Edinburgh. Dr. Hutton, in his Plan of Newcastle, places it in 55
degrees north latitude, and in 1 degree 17 minutes west longitude. But Mr. John Bruce, an able teacher, of this town,
found this statement of the latitude was incorrect. This was
also ascertained to be the case by that eminent mathematician,
Mr. Henry Atkinson, who likewise corrected the longitude,
from repeated observations made on the passage of the moon
over the meridian and on the satellites of Jupiter. Since then, the true position of
Newcastle has been ascertained with the utmost accuracy, by Mr. Edward Riddle, of
Greenwich, while master of the Trinity School here. He drew the meridian line in
the tower of St. Nicholas' church; and, by excellent instruments, found it to be in
54 degrees, 58 minutes, 30 seconds, north latitude; and in 1 degree, 37 minutes, 30
seconds, west longitude. This agrees exactly with the Trigonometrical Survey of
The situation of Newcastle, however well chosen it may once have been for the
purposes of security, is but ill adapted to answer those of neatness and convenience.
The lower parts of the town seem to have been embanked from the river; and the
higher parts stand upon three steep and lofty eminences. The western ridge terminates exactly in front of the bridge, on which the Romans, Saxons, and Normans,
have successively erected their chief fortress, the first probably in imitation of the
ancient Britons, who evinced great skill in the selection of their military positions.
This mount was separated by a deep ravine, lately converted into an elegant street,
from the middle ridge, which, stretching northward, is bounded by another deep
ravine formed by a brook, or burn, that nearly separates the whole of Newcastle,
properly so called, from its extensive eastern suburbs.
The town is usually reckoned to extend along the banks of the river (from the
Skinner-burn to St. Peter's Quay) at least two miles from west to east: about one
half of this may be taken for the base of a triangle, the northernmost point of which
is near a mile from the bridge; within which, though with several irregularities and
vacant spaces, the great body of the town may be conceived to be comprehended.
The boundaries of Newcastle by land were undoubtedly fixed when it was first
made a county of itself, and are described as follow:—From a small brook, or course
of water, called the Swerle, on the east side of the town, along the shores of the
Tyne into Elswick fields; thence into the fields of Fenham, Kenton, Coxlodge, Jesmond, to Barras Bridge; then down a lane to Sandiver Bridge, and through Shieldfield into a lane leading to the Tyne. But in the 2d and 3d of Edward VI. all that
ground from the Swerle in Sandgate, by the river Tyne, to St. Laurence Quay, and
sweeping away on the north side, from thence to Stoney-ford, and through Great
and Little St. Ann's Closes, Durham Close, Baxter's Close, and Lumley Close, till it
again join the Swerle, running towards Sandgate, was added to the town and county
From the common council books, it appears that a set of march or bounder stones
were set up in the year 1648; and in 1751, an order in the town's council was passed,
that, in future, "the bounders of the corporation be rode every three years," in order
to preserve the rights and property of the corporation. (fn. 1) This order has been punctually observed.
The boundaries of the jurisdiction and of the property of the town of Newcastle
are two distinct considerations. It is observable that round the moor the boundary
stones are placed a little within the hedge that separates the grounds of other proprietors from those of the town of Newcastle.